On Thursday evening, the Braves turned the ball over to Aaron Harang in an effort to even the series against the Marlins ahead of next week’s significant West Coast road trip. Despite their inconsistent play since the All-Star Break, the Braves entered the contest only one game back of Washington (two in the loss column) for the lead in the NL East.
Winless against the Marlins since 2011, Harang was sharp early. For the Fish, Henderson Alvarez entered play with a sparkling 2.63 ERA, but was tagged for two runs in the second off Chris Johnson’s eighth home run of the year. (Spoiler: Hibernation Mode).
Harang escaped trouble in the fourth, but the tightrope act fell apart in the fifth as the Marlins tied the game at 2-2 on a RBI single by Adeiny Hechavarria and a RBI fielder’s choice by Christian Yelich.
Aaron Harang would go seven innings and give up two earned runs, with five strikeouts against two walks to cap a terrific July. Jordan Walden chipped in a scoreless eighth inning. The contest remained 2-2 until the ninth, when Craig Kimbrel took the mound.
Things got weird. After striking out Garrett Jones for the first out of the inning, Kimbrel notched another strike out against Marcell Ozuna. The strikeout resulted in a wild pitch, and Ozuna took first. With Jarrod Saltalamacchia batting, Kimbrel threw another wild pitch to allow Ozuna to take second. Salty followed up with a single that scored Ozuna, and the ballgame ended 3-2 Marlins. That’s a terrible way to lose a baseball game.
Following Johnson’s homer in the second, the offense went full Hibernation Mode and never again reached home plate. The Braves ended the game with six hits, including three by Justin Upton.
With the Nationals idle, the Braves sit 1.5 games back in the East. Next, it’s a four game wrap-around series with the Padres (the Island of Misfit Braves) before the trip out West. Let’s win a few.