Marlins’ Koehler too much as Braves struggle offensively

On April 16th, the Braves had Miami pitcher Tom Koehler’s number.

The team scored six runs (five earned) and had nine hits against him. They chased him after 3 2/3 innings and outfielder Nick Markakis led the way with three RBIs. Koehler took the loss as the Braves won 6-4.

A month and a half later, things have changed.

Koehler was a different pitcher and helped the Marlins to a 7-3 victory on Sunday afternoon. He went seven innings and allowed three runs (two earned). The Braves could only scatter three hits and struck out twice against him. As a result, many players were left confused at the plate.

“I feel like he was nibbling a little bit, but he was making good pitches where people aren’t taking them and risking ball or strike,” Braves infielder Gordon Beckham said. “We were trying to go after him but he was just on the edge of the plate. We got to give him credit. He made his pitches and got us out.”

Beckham went 0-for-3 and left two men on base.

He wasn’t alone. The Braves’ top players, Freddie Freeman and Markakis, combined to go 1-for-7 with a two strikeouts and five runners left on base.

Coming into the game, both players had crushed Koehler. Markakis was 9-for-14 against him. Freeman was 7-for-30 with a home run.

The team also had success. Koehler had a 2-5 record and a 4.30 ERA in 10 starts against the Braves. However, those numbers didn’t impact his performance on Sunday. This was due to an elevated game according to Braves interim manager Brian Snitker.

“He was pretty good today,” Snitker said. “He was on the mark and attacking. I saw him a couple years ago when I was here, but he looked really good. I felt like everything was a grade above today.”

Koehler brought his best pitches and the Braves just couldn’t answer. Snitker said they hit some balls hard but none would fall. This included a near home run from Freeman.

“We hit a couple balls hard but we couldn’t get anything to drop,” Snitker said. “I thought the one Free (Freeman) hit was one I’ve seen go out before. It’s just one of things.”

Now at 14-35, the Braves move on to face a tough San Francisco Giants team. Beckham says it won’t be easy, but the plan is to keep going.

“We didn’t score a lot of runs, but I think Koehler was good today,” Beckham said. “We’ve got a tough test with the Giants coming up and we’ve got to keep going and keep grinding.”