Julio Teheran’s first-inning pitch to Giancarlo Stanton landed in the shrubbery in dead center, smacking the black batter’s eye before plopping down in the greenery.
The clout was calculated at 450 feet, and it brought an emphatic end to Teheran’s streak of 15 scoreless innings. In the end, though, Stanton’s latest tape-measure blast turned out to be nothing more severe than a minor scratch for the Braves’ ace, who brushed it aside and shut down the Marlins the rest of the way.
The Marlins did little else after that, and the Braves rallied for three runs late off Tom Koehler to keep their hold on first place in the National League East.
Had the outcome turned out differently, the Marlins would have ended the first third of their season in first, a position in the standings they have held only four times previously at this late of a juncture.
Teheran and the Braves made sure they didn’t get there a fifth time. Not on Friday, anyhow.
“Right now, I’m frustrated with myself for letting that one slip away,” Koehler said. “But we’re playing good baseball. We have a chance against a team who’s in front of us, to play two more games and try to win this series. Obviously, you want to get the first one because that sets the tone. Didn’t happen tonight.”
After the long poke by Stanton, the Marlins mustered only three more hits — all singles — the rest of the way off Teheran, who was taken out with one out in the eighth. The Braves bullpen finished the Marlins off.
“He’s throwing four or five different pitches, commanding them all,” said Ed Lucas, who had one of the Marlins’ five hits. “And he does a really, really good job of changing speeds, especially for someone as young as he is. With that many pitches and changing up speeds on you, it almost becomes 10 different pitches. So he kept everybody off balance.”
The Braves didn’t land in Miami until the early morning hours Friday, reeling from four consecutive losses to the Boston Red Sox. Because of their late arrival, they did not take batting practice, and they didn’t do a lot of hitting off Koehler.
But they squeezed out barely enough runs to get past the Marlins, who had swept them in Miami at the end of April.
Koehler and the Marlins were clinging to a 2-0 lead in the sixth when Chris Johnson cut the deficit in half with an RBI single.
Koehler ran into more trouble in the seventh when Teheran slapped a double past the bag at first for his second hit of the game, and Jason Heyward hit a ball into the gap in left-center, easily scoring the pitcher. Heyward ended up at third with a triple and scored the go-ahead run one batter later on B.J. Upton’s sacrifice fly.
It was all the Braves needed.
Koehler was kicking himself for giving up three, two-out walks during his outing.
“Two-out walks will kill you,” Koehler said. “They turn the lineup over and force you to grind a little bit extra, and [Friday night] there’s three of those. It’s tough to win ballgames win you’re giving the other team extra opportunities.”
Other than Stanton’s home run, the Marlins were no match for Teheran, who has never lost to them. He is now 4-0 in six career starts against the Marlins.
Stanton’s 16th home run came with a man on and put him in the Marlins’ record books as the fastest player to reach 50 RBI. Stanton, who collected his 50th and 51st RBI with the swat, reached the mark in 54 games.
The previous record was held by Mike Lowell, who needed only 57 games in 2001 to get to 50 RBI.