In what could only be deemed an appropriate ending to an anomalous arc, Nick Markakis’ first night back in the starting lineup concluded with a walk-off homer.

Knotted at 3-3, Markakis slapped a solo homer to right field, sending the Braves to a 4-3 win over the Blue Jays at Truist Park on Thursday. It clinched the series and capped a 7-2 homestand.

“In those situations, you have to slow everything down,” said Markakis, who homered on a Wilmer Font curveball. “Everybody as a hitter wants to be in those situations. The biggest thing is to go up there with a calm approach, not trying to do too much, and when you do that, usually good things happen.”

The poetic home run was the second walk-off shot of Markakis’ 15-year career. His other came on opening day 2018 against the Phillies. This one, though, might be even more memorable.

Days after camp began in early July, Markakis decided against playing this season, citing concerns around protocols affecting his preparation and disinterest in playing at empty stadiums.

Yet two weeks after that choice, Markakis announced a change of heart. He rejoined the Braves, working out at the team’s alternate training site until Wednesday, when he was reinstated from the restricted list and pinch-hit late in that evening’s game.

“You could pull him off the couch at 50 years old and he’s going to hit,” manager Brian Snitker said, echoing previous comments. “What a great way to come back. Huge. It’s great we had somebody to tap into when (Matt Adams) went down (with a hamstring strain). I’m happy for (Markakis). He smoked a couple balls tonight, so that’s really nice.”

Markakis had just picked up a bat again last week. As his manager constantly predicted, he didn’t need much time to be ready.

“I kept myself (in shape),” Markakis said. “I was working out, training hard. I have three boys now who can play catch with me. I can fire the ball to them whenever I want. I just stayed loose. Stayed flexible. You never know what’s going to happen. There’s always opportunities. Things can change. As you see, it did.”

His winning homer came one month to the day that he informed reporters of his decision. Markakis met with the media July 6 to explain why he wasn’t going to play. On August 6, he emphatically announced his return.

In a sign of the times, Markakis’ trek around the bases finished with teammates spacing out around him at home plate. The socially distanced celebration, which aligned with the uncomfortable changes that Markakis once said sapped the fun out of baseball, wound up putting a smile on his face.

“It was a little weird,” Markakis said. “That’s the situation we’re in. We’re still out here playing the game, playing for everybody, playing for the fans. Whatever it is, whatever it takes, we’re going to do it. The biggest thing is we got the win tonight.”

Braves pitcher Touki Toussaint delivers against the Toronto Blue Jays.    Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

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Credit: Curtis Compton

Notes from Thursday:

- If not for Markakis’ heroics, starter Touki Toussaint would’ve been the story of Thursday’s game. In perhaps the best start of his career, Toussaint went 6-2/3 innings with a career-high nine strikeouts and no walks.

Toussaint was in total command. Five of his first six innings were perfect. His curveball was in peak form: He threw it 26 times, generating a whiff or called strike on 13 pitches. His four-seamer was located well at 94 mph.

“It was one of those starts where everything was working,” Toussaint said, concurring it was his best outing in the majors. “I was getting ahead of guys and putting guys away. No walks is the biggest thing for me. I made them put it in play and kept my team in the game.”

He retired the first nine Blue Jays before Bo Bichette hit a solo home run to start the fourth. Toussaint responded by retiring nine of the next 10 hitters. The Braves led 3-1 after six innings.

While only throwing 66 pitches across those frames, Toussaint ran out of gas in the seventh. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. singled and Rowdy Tellez doubled to start the inning. Toussaint then induced a pair of grounders, one of which scored a run, and departed at 83 pitches.

“We talk about him repeating his delivery, getting in his rhythm,” Snitker said. “He had it all tonight. Pace was good. Stuff starting out, he came out of the gates locating his fastball with a great breaking ball. I loved the tempo of his delivery too. It was really, really good. He stayed locked in. … That was very impressive.”

Lefty Tyler Matzek inherited Toussaint’s last baserunner at second with two outs. Teoscar Hernandez singled to tie the game. Toussaint was left with a no decision and was charged three runs in the outing, which was far more dominant than it will read in the box score.

The Braves’ rotation has been depleted since camp reopened. It suffered its biggest blow when it lost Mike Soroka for the season earlier this week. Even before that, there hasn’t been any consistency beyond Max Fried. Toussaint’s outing was the first time a Braves starter other than Soroka or Fried pitched beyond the fifth inning.

“(Toussaint) was the first person I was looking for when I came into the clubhouse,” Markakis said. “He threw as good as I’ve seen him throw. He was throwing strikes, getting ahead of guys, mixing things up. Those last couple innings he was around 60-something pitches. When you’re out there throwing 10 or so pitches an inning, that’s pretty good.

“He’s come a long way. He’s pitching now, learning a lot. I think he has one of the best curveballs in the game, as you saw tonight. He kept guys off balance all night. It was good to see.”

Maybe the Braves’ rotation shouldn’t be written off just yet. Sean Newcomb gave plenty of reason for encouragement Wednesday before Toussaint’s showing. The Braves haven’t panicked, instead staying patient with their unproven starters. The improvement in Newcomb and Toussaint was evident; the key is stringing solid starts together.

- First baseman Freddie Freeman hit a two-run homer off Toronto rookie Nate Pearson in the first inning to put the Braves ahead. It was part of a two-hit night for Freeman, who’s trying to emerge from a mostly season-long slump.

- The Braves embark on their second road trip, beginning with a game in Philadelphia on Friday night. They’ll play four against the Phillies and two against the Yankees before enjoying their first off day of the season. The trip ends with three games in Miami.