Michael Harris and Vaughn Grissom – the 21-year-old kids who jumped from Double A to the big leagues this season – are the perfect example of this. And in the victory, they keyed a game-winning rally that brought them back to their rookie-ball days three years ago.
“We’ve done this before,” Grissom said, “but not on this level.”
Grissom led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a double. Harris followed that with a two-run homer on a laser that hit off the signage in front of the second deck in right field.
“I blacked out when I hit it,” Harris said.
“It was cool,” Grissom said. “I can just get on and he can just do his job and do what he does. I mean, he’s great. We needed a run right there and he got us two.”
2. Hours before the game, manager Brian Snitker, asked about playing the lowly Marlins before a stretch of seven games against contenders, made this much clear: Winning major-league baseball games is difficult. Nothing is a given.
In the coming hours, his statements proved correct when the Braves had to grind out a game.
“We really did,” Snitker said.
With the tying run on second base and the winning run on first in the bottom of the ninth, Kenley Jansen recorded the final out of the game. In the eighth inning, after Kirby Yates gave up a run on consecutive doubles, A.J. Minter stranded the tying run on second by getting consecutive outs.
Before those relievers pitched, Collin McHugh tossed two scoreless frames and Tyler Matzek hurled another. The bullpen covered a big chunk of the game after Jake Odorizzi’s short start.
“They’ve been good all year,” Harris said of the bullpen. “It’s just easy playing out there behind them, because they’re going to find ways to get outs, even if they’re up there for a minute.”
3. On one hand, Odorizzi limited the damage as he allowed only two runs on eight hits, with one walk. On the other, the Marlins hit him hard.
In the start, Odorizzi gave up a 112-mph home run, a 105.7-mph single, a 105-mph single, a 103.7-mph double and a 101.4-mph single.
“I don’t feel like that far off,” Odorizzi said. “Not how I would’ve really liked to start off, but at the same time, keeping the team in the game, that sort of thing, that’s positive. But things will get better once I can clean my mechanics a little bit and get deeper into games.”
4. The Braves have shuffled their rotation.
Ian Anderson and Spencer Strider were Atlanta’s starters for Saturday’s doubleheader. Instead, the Braves will bring up Kyle Muller from Triple A for Game 1, while Anderson will pitch the second game. The Braves’ starter for Sunday is to be determined.
The Braves are covering themselves by pushing back Strider and Morton because Kyle Wright is experiencing arm fatigue.
“Big-league innings are different than Triple-A innings, I’ve learned,” Wright said. “Body just kind of not recovering as well, so just a little bit of a (breather) to help me finish strong.”
Wright said he felt some tightness and soreness in his right arm, but worked it on Friday and said it feels better. He expects to pitch next week. This was simply about being cautious during a long season.
“That’s kind of what I told myself: I don’t need to be a hero right now,” Wright said. “If it’s a couple days right now that can give me that break I need to be able to finish strong, that’s what I want to do.”
Muller struggled in his lone big-league start this season, but has a 3.27 ERA over 17 starts in Gwinnett.
5. In the eighth inning, Harris’ home run left the bat at 111.2 mph. Two innings before that, his double had a 111.4-mph exit velocity.
Harris gave the Braves the win, but Matt Olson helped with a 411-foot solo homer – his 22nd of the year – in the top of the fourth to get Atlanta on the board.
Stat to know
4 - Four of Harris’ 11 homers have come in the eighth inning or later.
“He’s got kind of a slow heartbeat. He doesn’t get caught up in the situations. He handles the situations, I think, very, very well for a kid his age. He slows the game down really well.” - Snitker on Harris
The Braves and Marlins will play a split doubleheader on Saturday, with the games at 1:10 p.m. and 7:10 p.m.