The Braves have had to improvise to keep winning amid their recent barrage of injuries, and Wednesday night’s game provided a prime example of that.
The big hits were a triple by Tyler Flowers, just the fifth three-bagger in the catcher’s 11-year big-league career, and a long two-run homer by Adeiny Hechavarria, signed by the Braves five days ago as a good-field, light-hit shortstop.
Those improbable blasts came on consecutive at-bats in the second inning, Flowers’ two-out triple to deep right-center scoring the game’s first run and Hechavarria following with a 422-foot homer to left field. The Braves coasted from there to a 5-0 victory over the Miami Marlins at SunTrust Park.
Hechavarria punctuated his home run with a serious flip of the bat that had his new teammates talking.
“I’ve got to be honest: I think it was the best bat flip I’ve ever seen,” Ronald Acuna said through a translator.
“I was telling him that I almost caught his bat,” Julio Teheran said. “I was standing on deck. That is how high he threw it. He said he doesn’t do it on purpose. It’s just, whenever he feels that he hits the ball good, it’s kind of natural. But it’s fun.”
The Braves’ final two runs in the game came from an expected source: One night after being drilled in the side by the Marlins’ first pitch of the night, Acuna drilled a two-run, 415-foot home run to center field in the fifth inning. It was his 36th home run of the season -- and his ninth homer this season and 16th in his career against the Marlins.
The Braves had just three hits in the game, none of them singles or doubles. But that was enough to account for five runs because Flowers’ triple and Acuna’s homer scored baserunners who reached via walks.
“We were efficient with our hits,” manager Brian Snitker said. “That’s for sure.”
In fact, the game marked just the eighth time in the past 112 seasons that an MLB team scored as many as five runs in a game without either a single or a double.
The win was the Braves’ sixth in eight games on the current homestand despite having five key position players – shortstop Dansby Swanson, right fielder Nick Markakis, center fielder Ender Inciarte, infielder/outfielder Austin Riley and now catcher Brian McCann – on the injured list.
Amid the barrage of injuries, enter the likes of Hechavarria (signed last week after the Mets released him), Rafael Ortega (who hit a grand slam against the Dodgers on Sunday after spending most of the season at Triple-A Gwinnett) and others.
“It’s been fun to watch them come here and help the team,” Teheran said. “We don’t like the injuries, but it feels good when you’ve got a guy coming in (who) can do the job, too.”
“It has been really good the way these guys have all stepped up and gotten opportunity and done their part and nobody has panicked and no woe-is-me or no feeling sorry,” Snitker said earlier Wednesday. “Everybody has stepped up and embraced the opportunity and helped keep the thing rolling.”
The Braves maintain a six-game lead over the second-place Washington Nationals in the NL East.
Teheran (8-8) made his fifth start of the season against the Marlins and once again dominated them, pitching seven scoreless innings, allowing five hits and striking out a season-high nine. Oddly, two of the hits against him (and the only extra-base hits against him) were doubles by the opposing pitcher, Caleb Smith. Teheran has a mind-boggling 0.28 ERA (one earned run in 32 innings) vs. the Marlins this season.
“He’s had some kind of year against them this year, I’ll tell you that,” Snitker said.
In the Braves’ Atlanta era, dating to 1966, just three other starting pitchers have worked at least 25 innings against one opponent in a season and surrendered one run or less: Pat Jarvis (one run in 31-1/3 innings vs. Houston in 1971, Ron Reed (one run in 26 innings vs. San Diego in 1974) and Pete Smith (25 scoreless innings vs. the Cubs in 1988).
“Confidence, that’s what I had coming into this game,” Teheran said. “In past games against them, I just went out there and executed the plan. When I execute the plan and you’ve got everything working, I feel like you’re going to get success.”
The Braves complete the homestand with a Thursday night game against the Marlins – the final meeting this season between the first- and last-place teams in the NL East. The pitching matchup is the Braves’ Mike Soroka (10-2, 2.41) vs. Miami’s Sandy Alcantara (4-11, 4.35). The Braves are 14-4 against the Marlins this season after going 14-5 against them last year.
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