MIAMI— To the delight of roughly 30,000 fans in attendance at Marlins Park, the Braves and the Marlins put forth an absolute show, leaving the stadium buzzing with commotion and the fans overcome with emotion. Helpless at the plate for much of the game, the resilient Fish erased a four-run deficit in the bottom of the ninth and completed the comeback in the 10th on Martin Prado’s walk-off sacrifice fly, winning 7-6 on Saturday night.
The pitching matchup in itself was an intriguing one. Mike Soroka of the Atlanta Braves—a thriving young arm and a legitimate candidate for both the Rookie of the Year and Cy Young awards—was set to battle Sandy Alcantara, who has experienced a continuous string of poor starts since being the sole Marlin represented at the 2019 MLB All-Star Game.
In several aspects, the contest seemed to favor Soroka, and the Braves for that matter. Soroka’s 2.45 ERA entering the night was the third best in the National League, only trailing those of two accomplished veterans: Hyun-Jin Ryu and Max Scherzer. Not to mention, Marlins Park is by no means unfamiliar territory for Soroka, and in two starts versus the Fish at Marlins Park, Soroka is 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA. On the Marlins’ end, Alcantara owns a mediocre 7.09 ERA in five starts since the All-Star Break.
Fortunately for the Marlins, Alcantara’s A-game was on display versus the Braves’ formidable lineup, reviving confidence in his potential. However, Soroka reasserted his status as one of the National League’s best starting pitchers with an outing just as stellar.
The two young arms would clash with each other throughout seven full innings of work, scattering zeroes all over the scoreboard. While neither pitcher was dominant per se, they were both efficient, consistent, and their command was on point. Their respective strikeout totals never neared double digits, but they maintained their walks at a minimum and allowed only eight combined hits.
Going into the top half of the eighth inning, Soroka’s outing had been completed with just 82 pitches, but Alcántara remained in the game. Despite inducing two outs, Alcantara gave up a single to Charlie Culberson and intentionally walked Ronald Acuña Jr., putting Ozzie Albies in a tremendous position to dent the round numbers on the scoreboard with two outs and a man in scoring position. Stroking a line drive double that deflected off of Alcántara and easily found its way to left field, Albies and the Braves broke through and gained a 1-0 lead over the Marlins.
Alcantara was then pulled from the game after 106 pitches and would be replaced by Jarlin García. The first and only hitter he would face in Freddie Freeman padded the lead with a single up the middle, driving in a pair of insurance runs—both charged to the starter—and giving the Braves a comfortable 3-0 lead. García, who owned a perfect 100% strand rate during the first half of the season, has now allowed four inherited runners to score against him in recent weeks.
Once the play was over, manager Don Mattingly issued a double switch, sending Jon Berti to center field and Tyler Kinley to the mound to close out the inning.
In the bottom half of the eighth, reliever Anthony Swarzak came in relief for Soroka. It is fair to say the Marlins appreciated the change on the mound. Two batters into the inning, Curtis Granderson hit his second pinch-hit home run of the year—his first came on April 7—into the home run porch in right field, narrowing the deficit to two runs in favor of Atlanta.
Immediately afterwards, Berti singled on a sharp ground ball to center field and Isan Díaz drew a walk behind him, setting the stage for further damage to be done with only one away. Brian Anderson (as usual) answered the call, further narrowing the margin by driving in Berti on a single to right field.
Going into the top of the ninth, a series of critical defensive arrangements were made, and they greatly impacted the eventual outcome of the game; Harold Ramírez moved from left field to center field, Curtis Granderson remained in the game in left field, Jon Berti moved from center field to shortstop, and Ryne Stanek - a recent trade acquisition from the Tampa Bay Rays- replaced Tyler Kinley on the mound.
With an ERA hovering near the 3.50 mark, Stanek is generally considered to be a reliable option out of the bullpen, but this outing resulted in a particularly different narrative. In the inning, Stanek would record two strikeouts, but allowed four runners to reach base via the walk and surrendered a three-run pinch-hit homer to Johan Camargo, significantly nullifying hopes of victory.
Boasting a commanding lead of four runs in the bottom of the ninth, the Braves were well-prepared to hand the Marlins their second consecutive loss in the series. Despite Harold Ramírez punching out to commence the inning, the Fish would play station-to-station baseball and tally five consecutive singles by Martín Prado, Bryan Holaday, Granderson, Jon Berti, and Isan Díaz. With Berti and Díaz’s hits driving in a pair of runs, the Fish halved the deficit and now trailed 6-4.
Then, deviating away from the trend of the inning, Starlin Castro drilled a two-run double down the left field line to tie the game with Isan Díaz - the winning run - just barely being tagged out at home plate in what was a valiant effort by the rookie to score from first base.
Failing to score another run afterwards, the heated battle between division rivals continued into extra innings, and Jeff Brigham came to toss the tenth. In a crowd-pleasing 1-2-3 fashion, Brigham swiftly retired all three hitters he faced.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Marlins’ resilience was demonstrated once again by a leadoff single from Harold Ramírez. Once aboard, Ramírez was able to reach third base on a failed pickoff attempt by Braves pitcher Sean Newcomb and ultimately scored on the sac fly from Prado.
Starting Pitcher Stat Line
Mike Soroka: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO
Sandy Alcantara: 7.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 SO
Notable Offensive Performances
Ozzie Albies: 2-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB
Freddie Freeman: 2-5, 2 RBI
Johan Camargo: 1-1, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI
Isan Díaz: 2-4, 1 RBI, 1 BB
Starlin Castro: 1-5, 2 RBI
Curtis Granderson: 2-2, 1 HR, 2 R, 1 RBI
Jon Berti: 2-2, 2 R, 1 RBI
Martin Prado: 1-1, 1 R, 1 RBI
Braves vs Marlins Box Score (Baseball Theater)
Fill in the blank: That was a top _ game in the history of Marlins Park— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) August 11, 2019
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