Just when it looks like the balance of power between the Marlins and Atlanta Braves might be shifting ever-so-slightly, that the breezes in the National League East might possibly be blowing Miami’s way for once, the Braves wag their collective fingers and say no.
When Atlanta rolled into South Florida for a weekend series, the Marlins were tied with them atop the standings, the Braves were riding a four-game losing streak and the season series had Miami holding a slight 4-3 edge.
But in two games’ time, the Braves have quickly regained control.
With Saturday’s 9-5 victory, the Braves shoved the Marlins two games behind them in the division standings and proved once again which team is the master in their long rivalry.
The Marlins looked more like last year’s 100-loss version than this year’s new-and-improved model, with their pitchers walking nine men and their fielders committing three errors.
“We walked way too many guys, and then you cap that off with sloppy defense,” manager Mike Redmond said. “We’re going up against the best teams in baseball, and if you expect us to go out there and compete with them, we’ve got to play better baseball.”
The Braves punished Marlins pitching — and Jacob Turner, in particular — with some big, two-out hitting Saturday before putting the game out of reach with a three-run ninth against A.J. Ramos.
All-time, the Braves are now 204-144 against the Marlins and have taken nine of the past 10 season series between the teams. The Marlins’ .413 winning percentage against the Braves is their worst by far against any division opponent.
On Saturday, the Marlins were guilty of a multitude of baseball wrongdoings, from the lack of pitching control to the fielding blunders, on down to bench coach Rob Leary being ejected for arguing balls and strikes.
“We shot ourselves in the foot a few too many times,” said Casey McGehee, who drove in two runs and came up in the ninth with the bases loaded and two outs before grounding out to end the game.
The Braves jumped out to an early 5-0 lead, scoring all five of their runs with two out. Turner walked four batters, including three in the Braves’ two-run fourth inning.
“I just lost a little bit of feel there with a couple of guys,” Turner said.
Turner wasn’t the only Marlins pitcher unable to throw strikes. After the Marlins had pulled to within 6-5 with a pair of runs in the eighth, Ramos came in and couldn’t keep his team within striking distance.
Ramos gave up a check-swing infield hit to Andrelton Simmons before walking Ryan Doumit. Gerald Laird drove in a run with a single, and after Ramos intentionally walked Jason Heyward to load the bases he walked B.J. Upton to force in a run.
“I just didn’t pound the zone, plain and simple,” Ramos said. “Whenever I missed, it was too big a miss, and whenever I was going for a strikeout pitch, it was too close to the plate, and they were able to make contact with it. It was just the opposite of what I needed to do.”
Along the way, Adeiny Hechavarria, Garrett Jones and Jarrod Saltalamacchia were charged with errors. The Marlins began the day with the second-worst fielding percentage in the league.
“It wasn’t a good day for us at all,” Redmond said.