MIAMI – Freddie Freeman extended his hitting and on-base streaks and reached another milestone, Matt Wisler pitched six strong innings, and birthday boy Matt Kemp and Braves interim manager Brian Snitker got thrown out.
It was an eventful Friday night at Marlins Park, and ultimately the streaking Braves did what they’ve done a lot of late: Came back from a multi-run deficit to win in the late innings. This time they waited until down to their final out.
Adonis Garcia’s two-out single in the ninth inning broke a tie and lifted the Braves to a 3-2 win against the Marlins, pushing their winning streak to a season-high seven games and giving the Braves a .500 record in their past 90 games including 19 wins in their past 31. Oh, and it also assured they won’t lose 100 games.
“Good passion, good team camaraderie,” said Braves catcher Tyler Flowers, whose two-out double in the sixth inning drove in Freddie Freeman with the tying run. “Wins like this, games like this with that kind of emotion, can really bring a group together. Or it could take them apart. But I think definitely for us, it’s brought us together. It has been for a while now. We’re having a lot of fun playing.”
Mallex Smith, who had replaced the ejected Kemp, made a diving catch on Justin Bour’s line drive to left field to end the game, the second dramatic game-ending catch for the Braves in three days after Ender Inciarte’s spectacular home-run-robbing catch Thursday against the Mets.
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Freeman extended his on-base streak to 43 games with a third-inning intentional walk and his hitting streak to 27 games with a leadoff double in the sixth inning.
“The guys fought back, as they do,” Snitker said after the Braves’ fourth consecutive come-from-behind win. “These guys — I’m redundant, every night I talk about how these guys keep battling, grinding, laying it out there. Like I say, we’re playing like we’re trying to get into a playoff spot, and it’s a really good feeling and it’s fun…. Can’t be more appreciative of the way they go out there and they’re fighting for each other.
Former Brave Jeff Francoeur drew a one-out pinch walk in the ninth and was replaced by rookie Yefri Perez, whose blazing speed is the sole reason he was called up this month. Perez was promptly thrown out trying to steal second base by Flowers, who had previously thrown out just one of 58 base-stealers this season.
“I was waiting for the fastest guy,” Flowers joked.
Snitker and Kemp were ejected by home-plate umpire Adam Hamari in the third inning, Kemp ending his 32nd birthday on a bitter note after letting Hamari know from the dugout that he’d made a poor call on a crucial pitch to Nick Markakis with bases loaded and two out in the inning. Hamari didn’t take the criticism well.
“It’s always great to see the manager fight for his players and really have our backs,” Garcia said through an interpreter. “It definitely helped.”
After a 9-28 start under fired manager Fredi Gonzalez, the Braves are 54-63 under Snitker, including 26-23 since trading for Kemp.
“We didn’t want to lose as many as we have,” Snitker said. “But I don’t focus on that big picture as much as I do just what we’re doing right now, and where we’ve come from and what we’re going (going forward). It’s more important to me than our record. That’s the biggest thing about this team, what I admire most about them and the thing I respect most about them, is that they don’t get caught up in the big picture of what our record is.
“I don’t even know what the hell (the record is). We’re playing like somebody to be reckoned with right now. I guarantee you teams don’t want to play us. We’re a pretty good baseball team right now.”
When Snitker and Kemp got run from the game, the Braves trailed 2-1 after failing to score with bases loaded and one out in the third. They got the tying run in the sixth after Freeman’s leadoff double – he went to third on Giancarlo Stanton’s error — and Flowers’ double.
Wisler walked Derek Dietrich to start the first inning, then gave up a single and a two-run double to Martin Prado before recording an out. Then, as if flipping a switch, Wisler moved into outstanding mode, retiring the next six batters and 18 of the last 20 that he faced, giving up only a pair of walks in the third inning.
He pitched six innings and allowed two hits, two runs and three walks with five strikeouts.
“He dialed himself in and was really good,” Snitker said. “His stuff was live. I had a vantage point that I haven’t had in a long time to watch him pitch (on TV in manager’s office) and appreciate it more.”
Both of Freeman’s streaks are career-bests and the second-longest in the majors this season. The hitting streak is the fifth-longest in Atlanta Braves history, six games behind Dan Uggla’s Atlanta franchise-best 33-gamer in 2011, and the on-base streak is the third-longest, nine behind Gary Sheffield’s Atlanta-record 52-game streak in 2002.
Freeman’s double also made him just the second Atlanta Brave to have at least 80 extra-base hits in a season. He joined Chipper Jones, who had 87 in his 1999 National League MVP season.