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BBBBBBBBullpen cracks in eighth, Braves walk their way to 10-5 win over Marlins

Another productive night for Miami’s offense, but that wasn’t enough to overcome their unforced mistakes.

Atlanta Braves v Miami Marlins
Freddie Freeman continued his domination of the series with two home runs on Saturday.
Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

After the Marlins rallied back from two separate deficits, Drew Steckenrider and Junichi Tazawa each walked in a run—and issued four total walks in the eighth inning—to put the Braves ahead for good in Miami’s 10-5 loss on Saturday night. Shaky outfield defense and questionable bullpen usage let a close game get away.

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

Freddie Freeman continued to torment Marlins pitching with a monstrous solo home run against Jarlin García in the opening inning. Freeman went deep again in the fifth and scored as the go-ahead run during the Steckenrider/Tazawa walk-a-thon. In this series, the star first baseman has gone 8-for-12 with three home runs and zero strikeouts.

Although economic with his pitches (84 over six innings), García was not sharp. He only began half of the Braves batters with first-pitch strikes. Entering Saturday with a pristine 0.50 earned run average at Marlins Park this season, the Dominican right-hander was charged with four earned runs (allowed five total). Most of the damage was done directly on long balls by Freeman and José Bautista.

Fortunately, Bautista’s fielding error in the fifth inning made things interesting. When Brian Anderson hit a soft grounder in his direction, the veteran who’s still reacclimating to life as an infielder rushed the play to fuel a two-out rally. That error made the score 4-2 and brought up Derek Dietrich with the bases loaded, who drove a ball off the center-field wall to put the Fish ahead.

Anderson also smacked a RBI double in the first. At 110.5 miles per hour, it had the highest exit velocity of any Marlins batted ball in this game.

Now remember, Don Mattingly was away from the team on Thursday (death in the family), so he didn’t witness Steckenrider’s meltdown first hand. But apparently, the coaching staff reassured him not to be concerned. Mattingly called upon his trusted setup man in a very high-leverage spot: top eighth, tied 5-5, heart of Atlanta’s lineup coming to the plate.

By the time Mattingly took the ball away from him, Steckenrider had thrown 36 pitches—second-highest total of his career—with only one out to show for it. It’s been a tale of two seasons. Tazawa eventually escaped the inning with the score at 7-5.

Finally, Dietrich’s misplay offset the three runs that he had driven in earlier. Getting a poor read on a line drive directly at him in the ninth, he couldn’t recover on this ball for the final out. Instead, it scored an insurance run and brought up Ender Inciarte, who homered against Tyler Cloyd to stretch the lead even further.

Fish Stripes original GIF

Not to be completely overshadowed by the score, the Marlins recorded 10-plus hits in back-to-back games for the first time since March. In addition, Justin Bour made some obscure history, becoming the franchise’s only player ever with a five-game streak of drawing multiple walks. He has raised his on-base percentage from .333 to .371 in the process.

The 1:10pm series finale on Sunday features probable starters Sean Newcomb and José Ureña.

Win Probability chart courtesy of FanGraphs

Kingfish: Freeman (.377 WPA)

Flounder: Steckenrider (-.339)

Play of the game: Ultimately went to waste, but the clutch Dietrich double (.379)

Attendance: 12,383

Please leave any Icthy picks in the comments below. Remember, we just introduced a new grand prize for the contest this season!

Today's Lineups

Ozzie Albies - 2B J.T. Realmuto - C
Ronald Acuna - LF Martin Prado - 3B
Freddie Freeman - 1B Starlin Castro - 2B
Nick Markakis - RF Justin Bour - 1B
Jose Bautista - 3B Brian Anderson - RF
Ender Inciarte - CF Derek Dietrich - LF
Tyler Flowers - C Miguel Rojas - SS
Johan Camargo - SS Lewis Brinson - CF
Mike Soroka - RHP Jarlin Garcia - LHP

5/12/18 Pitching Matchup

Name Team IP ERA FIP K/9 fWAR
Name Team IP ERA FIP K/9 fWAR
Jarlin García Marlins 37.0 2.68 4.72 6.32 0.0
Mike Soroka Braves 10.0 4.50 3.76 7.20 0.1
Courtesy of FanGraphs

Matchup Summary

Dan Straily picked up his first win of 2018 on Friday night and ought to be thanking J.T. Realmuto for it. The soon-to-be NL All-Star ignited the Marlins offense—season-high 14 hits as a team—and navigated the bullpen through four innings of scoreless work. Even Junichi Tazawa had success! Truly, something to celebrate.

On Saturday night, the young starting pitchers on both sides need to bounce back from rough outings. Since debuting in the majors in 2017, Jarlin García has been especially sharp at Marlins Park. This season, he’s allowed only one run in Miami (0.50 ERA).

Keep a close eye on 20-year-old Mike Soroka and how he responds to adversity (4.0 IP, 7 H, 4 ER in his last start). Soroka excelled across every minor league level to break through into the Braves rotation a couple weeks ago.

Should be a fun atmosphere in the ballpark for Star Wars night! Let’s do the same here, folks.

Thread Question: Realmuto fell short of hitting for the cycle, just like everybody else has. Which player in the Marlins organization would you pick to get the first cycle in franchise history?