The Marlins sent Pablo Lopez to the mound looking to complete the sweep while Atlanta countered with birthday boy Drew Smyly as the Braves tried to salvage the final game of what has been a brutal road trip.
What a difference a week has made for the Atlanta Braves.
Last Sunday the Braves were coming off of a series win over the Los Angeles Dodgers and seemed to have a surge of momentum as they prepared to head out on a road trip against two teams below them in the NL East standings.
After winning the first game of the trip the Braves suffered back-to-back walk-off losses in Philadelphia and then dropped the first two games of this series with the Marlins and entered Sunday trying to avoid dropping their fifth straight game.
As they have done so often this season, the Braves were able to put up runs in the first inning Sunday, batting around and scoring three times, two of which came courtesy of an Austin Riley single.
On top of the huge early runs, the Braves were also able to drive up Pablo Lopez’s pitch count to 39 after one inning.
Austin Riley continued his big offensive day by hitting a solo home run the other way in the top of the third, extending the Braves lead to 4-0.
Drew Smyly would run into some trouble in the bottom half of the inning, surrendering an infield single and a walk to lead off the inning. But Smyly would battle back to strike out Jazz Chisholm, Starling Marte, and Jesus Aguilar in order to shut down the rally.
The Marlins would get to Smyly for a couple of runs in the 5th, which would be the last inning that Drew would complete on this day.
While it would have been nice to see Smyly complete six or more innings, he did what he needed to do after being given a lead. He challenged hitters and kept the ball in the park, giving the Braves a chance to win this game.
AJ Minter entered the game to start the 7th. After recording a strikeout Minter gave up a bunt single and a double to the next two hitters and was lifted in favor of Luke Jackson.
Jackson came on and gave up a two-RBI single to Marte, cutting the Braves lead to 6-4. But he restored order from that point on by striking out Jesus Aguilar and getting Magneurius Sierra to ground out to second base to end the threat.
Will Smith came on in the ninth attempting to preserve a two-run lead and get the Braves in the win column. Smith would have no problem bouncing back from his first blown save of the year, retiring the Marlins in order.
The Atlanta Braves beat the Miami Marlins 6-4 on Sunday.
It was nice to end the road trip with a victory. But in all honesty, this was a hugely disappointing road trip for the Braves.
While there is no shame in going 2-4 on a road trip, the way the Braves lost the two games in Philadelphia just felt like multiple punches to the gut.
With both Will Smith and Chris Martin blowing save opportunities in Philadelphia and watching the Phillies move past the Braves into second place with consecutive walk-off wins absolutely hurt.
Those two losses turned what could have been a very good road trip into one to forget for Atlanta.
Couple that with the fact that Ronald Acuna, Jr. was pulled from today’s game in the fifth inning with a tight pectoral muscle and it has been a bit of a miserable week for the Braves and their fans.
The Braves head home now and after an off day on Monday, they will begin a two-game set with the Boston Red Sox.
Aside from a 4-spot with the Cardinals, the Braves’ next 16 games are against teams with current records at or above .500.
We can only continue to say “it is early” for so long. We are now 63 games into the 2021 season and have another 99 to play. The Braves are only 5 games out of first at this point. But as this team is currently constructed, the hard truth is nothing about the Atlanta Braves feels like a playoff team right now.