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Braves have reason to reJoyce as they sweep Marlins with 12-inning, 7-6 comeback surge

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It took a four-run ninth and two separate extra-inning rallies, but the Braves swept away the Fish on Sunday afternoon.

Atlanta Braves v Miami Marlins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

For the second time in three Sundays, the Braves rallied to tie the game in the ninth and took the lead on a bases-loaded walk. Their 7-6 win was delayed a bit even after those two late-game boons as Luke Jackson allowed a game-tying run to score, but another rally, capped by Matt Joyce’s third hit of the day, finally gave the Braves a lead that would hold and deliver unto them a sweep.

Max Fried, whose starting gig in this game feels like ages ago, had somewhat of a bounceback effort after getting knocked around by the Nationals and Pirates in his two prior outings. Fried allowed a leadoff homer to Austin Dean but then buckled down, facing just one batter over the minimum for the remainder of his next four innings. Things got much dicier for Fried in the fifth, as he allowed two additional runs via a single, walk, double, strikeout, single sequence. The walk was his only free pass of the game, and the double really stung because it came on an 11 percent hit probability, sub-90 mph exit velocity looper by backup catcher Bryan Holaday. Left fielder Austin Riley was shaded way over towards left center and had no chance to catch up with the ball, which bounced in the left-field corner and allowed the go-ahead run to score. The Marlins’ second RBI hit of the game came on a soft looper into left field in front of Riley. Fried struck out Garrett Cooper for the second out in the inning, and then got bailed out by a phenomenal rangy scoop and backhand throw by Ozzie Albies on a grounder up the middle that would have scored Miami’s fourth run had the throw been even an iota slower. Fried’s final line encompassed six innings of three-hit, three-run ball with a 7/1 K/BB ratio and the one homer yielded. It was arguably his best start in four tries, and his pitching triple-slash now stands at an even-more-similar 3.75 / 3.85 / 3.48. (It was 3.68 / 3.89 / 3.62 prior to this game.)

Meanwhile, the Braves had to endure one of Pablo Lopez’ good outings for a second time this season. Lopez hurled six frames of one-run ball, scattering four hits and a walk while striking out seven and keeping the ball in the park. The Braves tied the game in the third thanks to back-to-back doubles by Matt Joyce (who advanced to third on a balk) and Max Fried (yes, Max Fried). The Braves had a chance to take the lead against Lopez in that inning when Fried move to third on a fly out, but he was thrown out at the plate when he hesitated to break for home on a Dansby Swanson grounder to second.

Despite the good outing, the Marlins yanked Lopez in favor of Tayron Guerrero for the seventh, which set up a frustrating frame for the Braves. Joyce hit his second double of the game with two outs, and Nick Markakis drew a four-pitch walk to put the tying runs on base. The Marlins sent Austin Brice out there on Guerrero’s stead, and he issued a four-pitch walk of his own to load the bases. Swanson then lined Brice’s 2-2 curveball up the middle, but it was snagged out of the air by a diving Starlin Castro behind the second-base bag to end the frame.

Things only got (temporarily) worse from there. Touki Toussaint came in and allowed four singles and a hit-by-pitch that scored the fourth and fifth Miami runs. In Toussaint’s defense, the hit probabilities for the singles he allowed were 22 percent, 52 percent, 51 percent, and six percent, but it was what it was, and the Braves were down 5-1. They went down 1-2-3 against Nick Anderson in the eighth, and Jacob Webb kept Miami from extending their lead despite a double and a walk. Luckily for Webb, the double turned into an out when Castro tried to stretch it into a triple and was gunned down by strong throws from Joyce in right field and Ozzie Albies on the relay.

The Marlins elected to use their nominal closer, Sergio Romo, despite the four-run lead, and the Braves furiously surged against the veteran slider machine. With one out, Tyler Flowers doubled into the left-field corner. A wild pitch and a walk to Joyce put runners on the corners, and then the game’s second balk advanced both runners. Pinch-hitter Johan Camargo then dumped a ball into left field to bring up the tying run in the form of Ronald Acuña Jr., and the tying run he was, indeed. Behold:

Romo: ruined. Fish: fried.

The Braves got nothing else in the ninth, and Anthony Swarzak held the Marlins scoreless to send the game into extras. It didn’t take long for them to break through again. New Miami reliever Tyler Kinley completely fell apart with two outs in the tenth. He issued a four-pitch walk to Albies. He issued a six-pitch walk to Flowers. He issued a five-pitch walk to Joyce. Pinch-hitter Charlie Culberson stepped to the plate in the pitcher’s spot, and six pitches later, he too had drawn a walk, this time scoring a run and granting the Braves their first lead of the game. That was it for Kinley; Miami skipper Don Mattingly summoned a lefty, Jarlin Garcia, to face Acuña with the bases loaded. Acuña watched two balls and then smashed a pitch to right, barreling it at 102 mph and with a 70 percent hit probability, but it was caught and the Braves turned the ball over to Luke Jackson to protect a one-run advantage.

Protect it, Luke Jackson did not. He struck out the side, mind, but yet another weak roller against him resulted in a one-out single by Harold Ramirez, and then Martin Prado bashed a knee-high fastball into left-center to tie the game. Jackson was able to keep the game tied with two consecutive strikeouts, but on the game wended. Garcia stayed in and struck out the heart of Atlanta’s order in the 11th. A combination of Jerry Blevins (in true LOOGY fashion, retiring Curtis Granderson and nothing else) and Dan Winkler worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the 11th for the Braves.

The Marlins then deployed another lefty, Adam Conley, for the top of the 12th. It didn’t go well for them. Ozzie Albies crushed a pitch into deep, deep left center, ending up with a triple. After the Marlins gave an intentional pass to Flowers, up came Joyce, without the platoon advantage This time, he didn’t need it, as his third hit of the game went past the third baseman, scoring the Braves’ seventh run and giving them yet another lead. Unfortunately, neither Culberson (groundout) nor Acuña (fly out) could extend it any further.

So, it was left up to Josh Tomlin to nail down the sweep in the bottom of the 12th. Not-so-spoiler alert: he succeeded. The first batter, Brian Anderson, hit a ball very hard to left, but right at Culberson, who came in to replace Riley after his pinch-hit appearance. Another hard-hit ball by Castro resulted in a one-out single, but Tomlin struck out Ramirez to put the Braves within one out of their eighth straight win over the Marlins. Former Brave Martin Prado stood in his way... but Tomlin struck him out, sending the Braves home with a 4-2 road trip and a well-earned sweep of the Fish.

This game was Matt Joyce’s offensively, as he went 3-for-4 with two doubles and two walks. He raised his wRC+ from 125 to 149 in the contest and finished the day with .381 WPA, his highest single-game total since August 2017 (three-run double in the bottom of the eighth, two out, when down by two runs).

The Braves now return home to start a four-game set with the Pirates, to whom they lost two of three in Pittsburgh earlier on this road trip.