The Braves hit their lowest point Saturday night. It was only in character they’d rebound a day later.
Behind their offense and a bullpen that didn’t relinquish the lead, the Braves beat the Marlins, 5-4, to split a four-game series in Miami. It concluded a 4-3 road trip in which the team also took two of three at Minnesota.
“This team does a very good job forgetting what happened the last day,” outfielder Ender Inciarte said. “Every time we’ve had a rough day, you can see us coming back the next day. It says a lot about the character of this team. It’s good going back home with a win and hopefully we’ll win some games there, too.”
Less than 24 hours after an inexplicable bullpen meltdown, it protected a one-run advantage. Chris Martin, Sean Newcomb, Anthony Swarzak and Luke Jackson combined to shut the door, a much needed result for the unit.
Martin allowed one baserunner in an otherwise clean seventh. Newcomb recorded two outs but walked a pair, forcing Swarzak to finish the eighth.
Jackson, who lost his closer role upon the team’s active deadline, came on with Shane Greene and Mark Melancon shelved.
Isan Diaz had a bloop single to begin the inning, but a heads-up play by Ronald Acuna in right spared Jackson. Diaz drifted too far past first base, and Acuna fired to Freddie Freeman and got him out.
Garrett Cooper and Starlin Castro had singled, giving Harold Ramirez, who scored the game-winner Saturday, a chance to end it.
Jackson coaxed a shallow fly, which Inciarte tracked down to end the game. It was a relief for the Braves, who got more than they bargained for from the last-place Marlins.
“We had to fight like hell to get a split,” manager Brian Snitker said. “And I’ll take that. This place was haunted for us these last four days.”
Snitker is partly referencing Saturday’s events, when Newcomb kicked over a trash can out of frustration after the team squandered a 6-2 ninth-inning lead.. The trash can hit a fire extinguisher, setting it off. The dust spread throughout the basement level of Marlins Park.
In the end, maybe it wasn’t the worst thing that could’ve happened.
“I think it was a good thing that happened yesterday,” Inciarte said. “We lost the game, a rough game, and then that happened. Everybody was thinking about the fire extinguisher. We were not thinking about what happened in the game.”
On Sunday, Mike Foltynewicz was pedestrian in his second start since returning from a stint in the minors. He allowed three runs in the first inning before pitching four scoreless frames. Foltynewicz gutted through the sixth, allowing one more run, before exiting.
The line: 6 innings, 8 hits, four earned runs, two walks and seven strikeouts. Foltynewicz wasn’t efficient but settling in after the first frame — when a few calls didn’t go his way — was an encouraging sign. Earlier in the season, such would make him ripe for an implosion.
“The first inning, I left a couple pitches up and they found them in the gaps,” Foltynewicz said. “I just wish I could have a few pitches back. It was a battle the whole game.”
Foltynewicz used his entire five-pitch arsenal, mostly relying on the two-seamer and slider. The latter wasn’t as effective as it was in Minnesota, only producing four swinging strikes in 39 throws.
Acuna blasted his 33rd homer of the season, continuing his pursuit of the fifth 40-40 season in MLB history. He’s currently at 28 steals with 42 games remaining.
Inciarte plastered a three-run homer off Marlins starter Hector Noesi in the fourth. It marked the 14th time in his last 15 starts that Inciarte reached base.
The Braves are off Monday before beginning their most pivotal homestand of the season. The Mets, riding one of the hottest streaks in franchise history that’s vaulted them back into the playoff mix, come to SunTrust Park for three beginning Tuesday. The Dodgers come to Atlanta next weekend before the homestand wraps up with three against the Marlins.
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