Runs were a tough commodity for both teams on Thursday, as both Ian Anderson and Pablo Lopez pitched brilliant games for the Braves and Marlins, respectively. Atlanta entered play having already clinched the division, but Anderson was due for one final tune-up prior to the postseason. The young right-hander was outstanding, but the Marlins bested the Braves bats in a rain-delayed, soaking wet mess at Truist Park that ended with a 4-2 Miami victory.
Anderson and Lopez traded zeroes for the first five innings of the game, allowing just six total hits in that span. The dam finally broke in the sixth inning for Miami, who plated three runs (all unearned) to take the lead and eventually chase Anderson from the game. Despite the disappointing final inning, Anderson did nothing to damage his case as the clear number two starter on a team that will be playing in the postseason next week. The right-hander worked 52⁄3 innings, allowing three unearned runs with no walks and six strikeouts.
As for the Atlanta bats, pickings were slim until the eighth inning. The Braves loaded the bases with no outs, scoring two runs on a one-out Dansby Swanson single, but the rally fell short. The ninth inning saw Atlanta bring the tying run to the plate following a one-out Freddie Freeman walk, but back-to-back strikeouts slammed the door and allowed Miami to leave town with an important victory in their quest for postseason play.
As evidenced by the three unearned runs charged to Anderson, the Braves played some sloppy defense on Thursday. Naturally, with a wet ball and wet grass some issues are to be expected, but unfortunately these issues allowed the Marlins to score the decisive runs and go on to win.
Regardless of the outcome, this start only serves to solidify the belief that Ian Anderson is ready for the rigors of playoff baseball. He was great, but he also faced some tough situations, due in large part to the four Atlanta errors. Three of those errors came against batters leading off innings, which put Anderson in trouble immediately. Having the fortitude to work around these potentially stressful innings is encouraging for a rookie, and only continues what has been an impressive rookie season.
The Braves will now face the Red Sox in the final regular season series, then begin play at home on Wednesday to begin the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Their opponent has yet to be determined, but this version of Ian Anderson along with Max Fried and a potent Braves offense will be tough for any opposition.