Worry not, Braves fans. With today's 4-0 victory in Miami, the Braves still haven't lost a series to the Marlins since the end of the 2017 season. This one, though, came about in a way that would have been difficult to predict: after oodles of pitching woes, the Braves got a bunch of scoreless innings from Robbie Erlin en route to a five-pitcher shutout.
Erlin allowed just a single in four innings, but really labored while doing so. He threw over 20 pitches in the first despite going 1-2-3; his quickest inning was his last, with 13 pitches thrown. Still, he struck out five of the 13 batters he faced in an admirable effort to give the team some quality innings.
After Erlin departed, the bullpen took over and gave the Marlins very little quarter. Darren O'Day threw a perfect fifth and departed after a single and a strikeout in the sixth. A.J. Minter came on to face Jonathan Villar and ended up with a one-pitch outing, as he immediately got a scalded double play ball to second to end the inning. Shane Greene threw two scoreless, giving up the team's only walk but then immediately erasing it on a double play. Tyler Matzek finished the game with a two-strikeout ninth.
Hitting-wise, the Braves could not quite solve the relatively soft-tossing Elieser Hernandez. After Marcella Ozuna's two-out single in the first, Hernandez struck out five Braves in a row, and finished with nine total punchouts in five innings. He scattered just three singles. The Braves looked somewhat cooked.
But, after Hernandez departed in favor of Nick Vincent, the Braves went from cooked to cooking. Dansby Swanson started the sixth with a leadoff "double" that resulted from Lewis Brinson getting a terrible break on a ball hit to him in left. After Freddie Freeman grounded out, moving Swanson to third, Vincent walked Ozuna, bringing up Nick Markakis. He fell behind 0-2 at first, but then managed to bloop a donut hole single behind the second baseman, scoring the game's first run. Adam Duvall nearly crushed a three-run homer afterwards, but it was just a loud flyout and the Braves had to settle for a lone run.
That would have been enough, but they got some more in the seventh, anyway. Ender Inciarte and Swanson collected two-out hits off new reliever Justin Shafer, and Freeman drew a walk against sidewinding lefty Brian Moran to load the bases for Ozuna. After falling behind 1-2, Ozuna took three straight balls to force in the second Atlanta run. Markakis then jumped all over Moran's first offering to him and smashed it into right for a two-run double.
The Braves were otherwise bamboozled by the switch-pitching shenanigans of Pat Venditte in the eighth and ninth, but no matter, as the relief corps slammed the door for the team's 13th victory and a share of first place in the division.