On Wednesday at Coors Field, Darius could feel Randi’s energy as he earned his first major-league win in a 7-3 victory over the Rockies.
Five observations from the special night:
1. One day last October, Darius was in Gwinnett, where he worked out with the Braves’ postseason taxi squad, when he received a call from his sister.
She delivered the terrible news: Randi had died in his sleep.
“I loved my dad – of course,” Darius said. “He was my hero.”
Vines added: “He would always tell me, ‘This is our thing. Trust me: When you get there, you’re gonna do well.’”
And Darius exceeded expectations in his debut: He held the Rockies to two runs over six innings.
He became the first visitor in Coors Field history to throw at least six innings while giving up two or fewer runs in his MLB debut. He became the sixth debuting pitcher to do this – the other five are Rockies.
“It feels surreal, honestly,” Vines said. “I don’t even know what to say.”
Vines estimates that, before Wednesday, his family members hadn’t seen him pitch since high school or college. They work, and they don’t live near any of the Braves’ minor-league affiliates.
Thus, Wednesday was extra special.
“And I just kind of felt their energy out there,” Vines said. “I wanted to give them a reason to come out here, and I felt like I did just that.”
2. Recently, one of Vines’ buddies posted something on social media about how we never really lose loved ones who have passed. Their energy is everywhere – in the air, in laughter, in music, in thoughts and memories.
“Just being out there and knowing that he’s watching, it just felt amazing,” Vines said. “I felt him for sure.”
Vines allowed one run in the third and the other in the sixth. He gave up four hits, issued one walk and hit one batter.
There were times when he could’ve unraveled.
Instead, he continued pitching.
“It was good,” manager Brian Snitker said. “I thought he pitched with a lot of confidence, handled himself well. You know what, he gave me the impression that he was ready for this. Good for him. It’s a big day in his life.”
Vines wished his father could’ve been there. But in a way, he was with Darius all along.
Randi is missed every day.
“He was a great dude,” Darius said. “Everybody knew him around the city. He was funny. He would definitely get you going.”
3. The Braves on Wednesday set the franchise record for home runs in a single season.
“Oh, we did that today?” catcher Travis Travis d’Arnaud asked.
Yes, they did – and on Aug. 30, no less.
Orlando Arcia’s sixth-inning, two-run homer gave the Braves 250 home runs, which pushed them past the 2019 team (249).
What if someone told d’Arnaud that the team would set this record before September?
“I wouldn’t have thought that, that’s for sure,” he said. “It’s pretty special. Everybody’s so good at their approach and staying within themselves. Fortunately, we’re rewarded with home runs. Yeah, it’s fun to be a part of.”
4. In the third inning, Kevin Pillar homered as he once again made the most of a start. In the fifth, Marcell Ozuna blasted his 31st home run of the season.
Around those, the Braves gave Vines plenty of run support. They have won six straight series since splitting a four-game set in Pittsburgh earlier this month.
Atlanta swept the season series with the Rockies. Over seven games, the Braves outscored Colorado, 64-20.
5. By starting Vines on Wednesday, the Braves gave Spencer Strider and Max Fried extra rest. The move also allowed them to line up their top four pitchers for the big upcoming series against the Dodgers.
The Braves will start Strider on Thursday, Fried on Friday, Bryce Elder on Saturday and Charlie Morton on Sunday.
The series could have ramifications for home-field advantage in the postseason, which is determined by record. The Braves, who have baseball’s best record at 87-45, are four games ahead of Los Angeles.
Stat to know
8 - Vines was the eighth player to debut for the Braves this season, and the third to do so with a start.
“I think he did a tremendous job, especially knowing that he was here three days ago and knowing that today was coming for that many days. To be able to stay calm in every inning. Any time he got in trouble, he still stayed calm and executed his pitches.” - d’Arnaud on Vines
The Braves will face Dodgers right-hander Lance Lynn in Thursday’s series opener, which begins at 10:10 p.m. ET.