Atlanta Braves Feel at Home in Miami

 For the Atlanta Braves, the first month of the 2017 season has been anything but pristine. While the organization relished in the opportunity to open their brand new ballpark, realists were not easily distracted by the opulence of SunTrust Park by focusing on the fact that the inexperienced roster would be fortunate to be .500 by the end of the year.

            The Braves did disappoint following early season success in a series against the San Diego Padres. Atlanta night after night seemingly vexed the public by presenting a team that did not differ too much from their minor league affiliate Gwinnett Braves. The only way fans knew that they were not duped with the names on the backs of the players’ jerseys.

            Despite their struggles, the Braves performed well with a win over the Miami Marlins on the road Friday. Atlanta was hopeful that momentum would continue on Saturday for consecutive victories. The Marlins had a picturesque evening for a game where the retractable roof was opened on consecutive contests, but the crowd was sparse during First Pitch and did not honor the proclaimed Cuban-American Night in proper fashion until the tardy began to arrive.

            In the Top of the 4th, Freddie Freeman hit what many considered a routine fly ball to mid-left field until the Marlins’ Marcell Ozuna could not track the baseball in the crepuscular sky that resulted in a double with no outs. RF Nick Markakis came to bat after Matt Kemp’s grounder for the first out; he managed to hit a line drive RBI double to center field that brought Freeman home for the game’s first run.

            This was the point in the contest when Miami’s Pitcher Edinson Volquez lost some composure. Following the Freeman run, Volquez threw a wild pitch that seemed to be headed towards Key West instead of home plate, which allowed Markakis to advance to third base. The scene was set for the struggling SS Dansby Swanson to hit a single into shallow left center to bring Markakis home for a 2-0 Braves’ advantage.

            Atlanta Braves Pitcher Julio Teheran maintained effective control of the ballgame through the fourth inning using a series of fastballs and changeups. Miami was able to make contact with the ball a few times but was thwarted by sensational fielding by Markakis and teammates.  

            In the 7th Inning, Eric O’Flaherty took the mound for Atlanta and faced an inauspicious beginning as his first pitch was hit for an upper deck homerun to right field by the Miami’s Justin Bour tightening the score 2-1. Nevertheless, O’Flaherty was able to regain control after the initial setback.

            When the Braves retired the side, Freeman hit another double to center field. Matt Kemp secured a hit along the third base line that forced a throwing error by 3B Derek Dietrich to drive in the crucial insurance run as Freeman crossed home. Atlanta played well enough to win another game for some much-needed momentum for the young club.