Atlanta Braves outfielder Marcell Ozuna may have missed loanDepot Park just a bit. The cavernous park that has neutralized many home run hitters over the years looked like a modest college field when Ozuna came to the plate this week, not unlike the five seasons he played as a member of the Miami Marlins.
His solo home run against starting pitcher Jesús Luzardo in the fourth inning on Thursday was the deciding run in Miami’s 4-3 loss. It was his fifth home run of the season—three of those came during this week’s series against the team that traded him to the St. Louis Cardinals after the 2017 season. One of those home runs was a grand slam against starting pitcher Braxton Garrett in a 14-6 victory over the Marlins.
“There’s no breaks in that lineup,” Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said. “Really good rotation…You gotta play pretty clean baseball to beat that team.”
It could probably have been worse for Luzardo, who gave up four runs (three earned) in 5 2⁄3 innings. He allowed multiple baserunners in three of the six innings he pitched in, and allowed the leadoff hitter to reach three times (although one of those was a botched fly ball by first baseman Yuli Gurriel in the first inning).
In total, Luzardo gave up seven hits and three walks. The Marlins have only had one pitcher go at least six innings over the last 14 games (that was Luzardo in his previous outing).
Although Luzardo had 92 pitches through five innings, he got the chance to start the sixth inning. He recorded two outs and allowed a single to Ozzie Albies before being relieved by Huascar Brazoban.
“I just know the bullpen has been taxed,” Luzardo said. “And I mean, I’d be lying if I said I don’t want to go as long as I can every game. And I felt like I had enough in me to go another inning. Obviously, I’m thankful that they gave me an opportunity to do that.”
The scoring opened in the first inning when Sean Murphy drove home Ronald Acuña Jr. on a double off the top of the right field wall. The Braves got two more on a Kevin Pillar sacrifice fly to right field and an Acuña single that drove home Eddie Rosario. The Braves tacked on another two insurance runs with a Matt Olson solo home run to right field and a Vaughn Grissom sacrifice fly, both in the ninth inning.
Ozuna was not the only slugger sticking it to his former team. Jorge Soler, who won World Series MVP with Atlanta in 2021, accounted for all three Marlins runs Thursday. The first two runs came from a first-inning home run that briefly gave the Marlins a 2-1 lead.
The third run game in the fifth on a double down the left field line to bring them within one run at 4-3. Soler went 3-for-5 Thursday with a double and a home run. Coming into the game, he had gone 1-for-21 with 10 strikeouts against the Braves this year.
But the Marlins certainly could have gotten more out of that fifth inning. With Soler at second base and Berti at third with no outs, Luis Arraez flew out to left fielder Eddie Rosario. Berti initially took a few hard steps towards home to potentially score the tying run before retreating back to third.
The Marlins wound up recording two more outs—with a Jean Segura intentional walk in the middle to load the bases—and didn’t plate any more runs.
Schumaker said the fact that Rosario was running in on the ball with forward momentum meant it would’ve been easier to throw out Berti on a tag-up attempt.
“Berti’s fast,” Schumaker said. “But Rosario has got a good arm. He’s played right field in his career. It’s not like he’s got a below-average arm…With one out, you probably take a chance. But with no outs, it doesn’t make much sense with your four and five hitters behind him. We just couldn’t get the job done.”
Schumaker’s Postgame Press Conference
"Tough series, especially after coming off a really good series against the Cubs...you have to play pretty clean baseball to beat that team."— Bally Sports Florida: Marlins (@BallyMarlins) May 4, 2023
Skip Schumaker speaks after the Marlins loss to then Braves, completing the ATL sweep@Marlins | #MakeItMiami pic.twitter.com/H7MGnugV7Z