The Atlanta Braves made it back into the win column tonight after they slipped past the Miami Marlins, and they did so with a huge effort from Todd Cunningham. The rookie made his first career start tonight, and he made it count: He went 3-4, stole a base, and collected an RBI. That RBI ended up being the winner, as the Braves beat the Marlins 5-3.
This game had plenty of action in the first four innings, as each team traded runs in those innings. The Marlins drew first blood, though, and they did so in the first inning thanks to a bloop single from Marcel Ozuna that brought in Dee Gordon to make it 1-0 Miami. The Braves would strike back in the next inning, and the big blow was dealt by an unlikely source.
Julio Teheran came up to the plate with the bases loaded and two out. Normally, seeing the pitcher in this situation is cause for depression, but Julio turned it into a moment of joy when he completed a nine-pitch at-bat by slapping a fastball from David Phelps right up the middle for a base hit. Two runs scored, and the Braves were in the lead for the moment.
I say a "moment" because the Marlins tied it up in the bottom of the third inning. While the Braves' first two runs may have come from a surprising figure, the Marlins' next run came from the most obvious candidate on the field: Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton has been hitting some moon shots lately, and he delivered another one in the bottom of the third when he destroyed a slider from Julio and sent it above the Clevelander. If this was the old "Rock 'N Jock Baseball" show from MTV, it'd count for a bajillion runs, but this is regular baseball so it only counted for one, so the game was tied at that point.
The Braves bounced back in the next inning, as Todd Cunningham kicked off the fourth inning by hitting a double. Immediately afterwards, Cameron Maybin hit a double of his own to bring home Cunningham and put the Braves back in the lead. Atlanta couldn't add to their lead in that inning, so the game stayed 3-2 for the time being.
By the time the seventh inning rolled along, both teams were into their bullpen, so you know that this meant that things were probably going to start changing. Cody Martin entered the game at this point, and the first batter he faced was Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton gave him just about the rudest welcome you can give a new pitcher: He hit the ball into the center field camera well. Giancarlo Stanton made the cavernous Marlins Park look extremely small tonight with the massive bombs he launched, but both of them were solo homers so I suppose that the damage was somewhat mitigated in that regard.
It's a good thing that none of Stanton's homers were of the multi-run variety, because that contributed to keeping the Braves in the game during the late stages of the contest. The eighth inning ended up being the moment of truth of our boys, and Nick Markakis started the rally by hitting a double with one out. The Marlins tried to quell the rally with a pitching change, but it didn't help; Andrelton Simmons hit a single to keep the rally going. That set the stage for Todd Cunningham, and the kid delivered: He hit a sharp grounder up the middle, which allowed Markakis to easily score and put the Braves out in front once again. As if getting his first career RBI wasn't exciting enough, Cunningham also picked up his first career stolen base soon afterwards, and it came in a double steal. No, I'm not lying to you: The Braves executed a double steal. This is a magical world that we're currently living in, you guys. Anyways, the double steal ended up working in the Braves favor, because Simba would end up scoring from third on a wild pitch.
The top of the eighth ended 5-3 in favor of the Braves, and thanks to the efforts of Jim Johnson and Jason Grilli, that's how the game would end as well. Both relievers pitched clean innings, and the Braves' two-run lead ended up holding firm.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Grilli halts his recent woes with a scoreless ninth. The <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Braves?src=hash">#Braves</a> are 4-0 at Marlins Park and 4-11 in their other 15 road games this year.</p>— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) <a href="https://twitter.com/mlbbowman/status/599400042307391489">May 16, 2015</a></blockquote>
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The stat in the tweet above is both perplexing and pleasant to me. I don't know what it is about Miami and the current incarnation of the Braves, but they seem to like hitting in this particular ballpark. Here's hoping that it carries on through the rest of the weekend. Also, shout out to Todd Cunningham! They finally freed him from his stint in suburbia, and he definitely delivered. Here's to more of that happening, as well.
<iframe src="http://www.fangraphs.com/graphframe.aspx?config=0&static=1063953&type=livewins&num=0&h=450&w=450&date=2015-05-15&team=Marlins&dh=0" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" height="450" width = "450" style="border:1px solid black;"></iframe><br /><span style="font-size:9pt;">Source: <a href="http://www.fangraphs.com/livewins.aspx?date=2015-05-15&team=Marlins&dh=0&season=2015">FanGraphs</a></span>