Ten days in Miami, Los Angeles and Phoenix can feel like an entire separate season. The Braves had a roller coaster of a trip, with the highest highs (sweeping) and the lowest lows (being swept), yet they completed it with a 6-4 record.
After dropping the series opener, the Braves won the final three games in Arizona. They capped their trip with a 5-3 victory in the finale, pushing them back above .500 (21-20). The teams combined for 26 hits Sunday.
“A long road trip, especially on the West Coast, to come out with a winning record is pretty good,” outfielder Nick Markakis said. “We started out hot, went cold and got hot again. We finished up like we wanted to finish up.”
The Braves’ latest gritty win was helped by the Diamondbacks leaving 26 men on base. They’ve won three of four in Arizona back-to-back seasons.
Sunday also concluded a 20-game stretch in 20 days for the Braves. They went 10-10, an acceptable result given the slate and 6-4 finish.
“I’m very pleased,” manager Brian Snitker said. “We come here in losing three in a row, and the way we lost that extra-inning game (Thursday) and bounced back. Win three close games against a really good club. Our guys have been resilient. It’s good to see the way they play today’s game and don’t worry about yesterday or tomorrow.”
Ender Inciarte's base knock opened the hit fest, his second consecutive day with an RBI. Johan Camargo, starting in place of Josh Donaldson, had a two-RBI single in the third. It came a day after his first pinch-hit homer.
Arizona scored three off Max Fried in the fourth, highlighted by Adam Jones’ monstrous two-run shot. The Diamondbacks threatened again in the seventh, when they loaded the bases with one out. Sean Newcomb struck out Braves slayer Christian Walker before passing the baton to Dan Winkler.
Wilmer Flores hit a liner to right that was saved by a stupendous diving grab from Markakis. It saved at least two runs and protected the Braves’ 4-3 lead.
“Right before that play, Ender told me anything in the gap right there, go ahead and go for it,” Markakis said. “He’s got my back. That was the key right there. I knew he was behind me. It was one of those do-or-die plays. I just went to a spot the ball was going to be, dove and came up with it.”
Among stranger happenings, Markakis and Flowers each had a triple — and just a day after Freddie Freeman collected a three-bagger of his own. Freeman was a late scratch from Sunday's lineup due to a head cold he's battled the last few days. Charlie Culberson had three hits in his absence.
Flowers’ triple, in particular, was noteworthy. He’s tripled twice in his last 43 plate appearances after doing so just twice over his first 2,424 appearances. He was aware of the number, given he has the balls from his first two triples displayed on a mantle.
Luke Jackson finished the game for his first two-inning save. He’s converted in four of his five save chances, including two of his three in Phoenix.
Jacob Webb, Sean Newcomb and Dan Winkler bridged the path to Jackson. It was the third-straight night the bullpen did enough to protect a lead.
“I’ve seen it (come together) in spurts,” Snitker said. “Everybody got a chance. It’s good to see them picking each other up. I like the way some of these guys we haven’t seen are coming out. The mound presence, how they’re handling themselves, the heartbeat looks really good in a lot of these guys. They should feel good about themselves.”
After winning three in Miami, the Braves were crushed in Los Angeles. Rather than carry those feelings into Arizona, the Braves produced one of their trademark rebounds.
“We had a little rough stretch in the middle, but we finished strong,” Fried said. “I know we’re feeling good about it, especially after coming back after L.A. We really just wanted to bear down, play our kind of baseball. It’s really nice coming out with these wins.”
The Braves begin their toughest homestand yet Tuesday, hosting the Cardinals and Brewers. They head back to the West Coast (San Francisco) a week from Sunday.
“Everyone is still pretty good, it’s just transition to the other-side-of-the-world time zone,” Flowers said. “The off day is pretty nice in that regard. ... We could use a little bit (of rest). Guys get a little bit of extra rest in.”