Bullpen woes and untimely hitting ended up dooming the Braves in their season series-opener against the Marlins. Despite never trailing during the first nine innings, the Braves ended up falling 5-3 to Miami after ten innings.
At this point in his career, it’s not really shocking to see Ronald Acuña Jr. getting off to a very quick start to any game in particular. It’s especially unsurprising at the moment, given the tear that he is currently on here in the early stages of this season. This time, instead of taking a round trip due to sending a pitch soaring through the night sky, he did it the old-fashioned way. He took a walk on four pitches, stole his third base of the season and then made it home on a two-out single from Marcell Ozuna to put the Braves ahead early.
Acuña continued to wreak havoc later on in the game. When he came up to bat to lead off the third inning, the Marlins had tied the game at one run apiece following Adam Duvall marking his return to Atlanta with a solo homer. Acuña wasted no time, as he smacked the first pitch he saw down the right field line and began streaking across the basepaths — all the way to third base for a triple and yet another extra base hit.
As exciting as that triple was, Acuña managed to top that by scoring on a sacrifice fly to very shallow center field. Ozzie Albies hit a pop up that Jazz Chisholm had trouble finding. Once he did, he had to expend a lot of energy and motion to make the catch. As soon as the ball hit Chisholm’s mitt, Acuña dashed down the baseline and slid home to take back the lead for the Braves. You talk about excitement, well there’s a piping-hot mug of excitement for you.
The one-run lead stuck for the most part and this was thanks to Huascar Ynoa having what was quite easily the best start of his career. Ynoa has been making small-but-noticeable improvements with each extended outing that he’s made over the years and this was the first time where it looked like he was really putting everything together. Ynoa had everything going for him as he held the Marlins to just one run over six innings.
The eighth pitch of the game for Huascar Ynoa clocked in at 100 miles-per-hour on the nose, and that basically set the tone for what Ynoa was going to do for the rest of the time that he was on the mound. He spent most of the night in the high-90s, and was tossing out some absolutely filthy stuff that was resulting in a bunch of swing-and-misses for the Marlins. Ynoa ended up with 14 whiffs on the night, which contributed to the career-high 10 strikeouts that he picked up on the evening. If Ynoa continues to pitch like this, then there’s really no question that Ynoa is going to be in the rotation to stay and his starts won’t be a sign that a bullpen day is looming.
Huascar Ynoa, Disgusting Sliders (5th, 6th and 7th Ks) pic.twitter.com/VemVIFhO1I— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 13, 2021
Speaking of the bullpen, this was not their finest night. After Luke Jackson had his usual “loud, scary, but harmless” outing, the ball was passed to A.J. Minter to help get the Braves through the eighth inning. Minter just didn’t have it tonight, as he walked three batters and only escaped a bases-loaded situation after Alex Jackson caught Jon Berti stealing — a pretty impressive feat considering Berti’s speed. With two runners on and just the one out, Nate Jones was given a chance to clean up the mess. Jones proceeded to give up a game-tying double to Garrett Cooper and then gave up two straight two-out walks. Jones ran up a 3-2 count on Miguel Rojas and was extremely fortunate when Rojas flied out to end the inning. It’s honestly miraculous that the Braves were not trailing by the time the top of the eighth was over, but it was still incredibly frustrating to see the bullpen struggle like that.
While the Braves didn’t mount an immediate rally in response, it only took until the ninth inning for Atlanta to get a stew going. This is when Adam Cimber’s first two pitches hit Austin Riley and Alex Jackson back-to-back. After Ender Inciarte bunted out and Ehire Adrianza popped out in foul territory, the top of the lineup came up and it was up to them to make something happen. Acuña took his second walk of the night on a really good at-bat, and the game was on Ozzie’s bat with the bases loaded and two outs. Unfortunately, Ozzie grounded out to end the inning and it was time for the Runner-on-Second portion of the game to begin.
That portion of the game did not go well at all for the Braves. Jacob Webb was called upon to throw the 10th inning and gave up two singles and a double before getting the first out of the inning. The second single and the double brought home two runs for the Marlins, which gave them the first lead that they had all night.
GARRETT COOPER DELIVERS!— Bally Sports Florida: Marlins (@BallyMarlins) April 13, 2021
Coop's RBI single gives the Marlins the lead in the 10th!!!!!
Watch the @Marlins live on:
Bally Sports Florida
Stream: https://t.co/2eJi97edUc#JuntosMiami #MLB #MIAvsATL pic.twitter.com/bAy53hm5oo
The score stayed 5-3 going into the bottom half of the 10th inning, and the Braves were unable to muster up much of anything against Yimi Garcia. Garcia proceeded finish off the Braves and handed them their sixth loss of the season. Had things gone just a little bit differently over these past two games for Atlanta, they would be going into the second game of this series on a six-game winning streak. Instead, the Braves will be facing Miami tomorrow night while looking to break a two-game losing streak.