Braves 9, Marlins 5
The Atlanta Braves slugged three homers and scored nine runs in their victory against the Miami Marlins in Game One of the NLDS. These divisional foes entered the best-of-five series with plenty of experience against each other. In the regular season, they faced off ten times, with the Braves winning six of those games.
Acuña, Rojas Get Things Started
Braves center fielder Ronald Acuña Jr. got things started for Atlanta’s lineup in the bottom of the first inning. On just the second pitch of the game from Marlins starter Sandy Alcantara, Acuña walloped a 96 mph fastball 428 feet to right-center. With this home run, the 22-year-old became the youngest player in postseason history with a leadoff homer.
RONALD ACUNA JR! Leadoff HR!
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 6, 2020
But the early fireworks didn’t stop there. Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas led off the second inning with a mammoth blast against Braves ace Max Fried to tie the game at 1-1. The ball traveled 418 feet to left-field, all the way to the train tracks in Minute Maid Park.
TRACK ATHLETE. pic.twitter.com/MoVMArNy1J
— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) October 6, 2020
Miami’s Big Third Inning
The Marlins ambushed Fried in the third inning with three runs on four hits. Speedy center fielder Magneuris Sierra started the frame with a single to left, which was followed by an opposite-field single from second baseman Jon Berti. With one out and runners on the corners, first baseman Garrett Cooper smoked a 2-1 curveball past third baseman Austin Riley, giving Miami a 3-1 advantage. Next, third baseman Brian Anderson got a fastball down the heart of the plate, which he lined to center field to make the lead 4-1.
Things Get Heated
In the bottom of the third, Acuña came to the plate for the first time since his leadoff homer. That’s when things got interesting. On a 0-1 pitch, Alcantara drilled Acuña on his backside with a 98 mph sinker. Acuña was obviously not happy about it as he chirped with the Marlins dugout before going to first base. Normally, considering the situation, it would make little sense to hit someone intentionally in a playoff game with the meat of the order coming up. But considering the Marlins history with Acuña, it’s hard to give them the benefit of the doubt. As a result, the umpires issued warnings to both teams. This marks the fifth time that Acuña has been plunked by the Marlins in his career.
“I looked over to their bench and said ‘Hey, it’s been five times,” Acuña said after the game. “I guess I can say I’ve gotten used to it at this point. I’m going to keep myself focused on this game and what we have coming up.
Atlanta’s Offense Wakes Up
Whether the HBP was intentional or not, it appeared to wake up the Braves offense. With Acuña on first with two outs, designated hitter Marcell Ozuna came up with a clutch knock to left field that made the score 4-2. Catcher Travis d’Arnuad followed Ozuna with a double to deep left, which trimmed Miami’s lead to 4-3.
“I think it woke us up,” d’Arnaud said when asked about the HBP. “We all know what happened earlier and in years prior. That definitely woke us up.”
Braves Get Hot in the Seventh
Atlanta entered the bottom of the seventh down 4-3 with Alcantara still on the bump. However, two quick singles from Riley and Acuña forced Marlins skipper Don Mattingly to go to his bullpen. First out of the chute was Yimi Garcia. Garcia retired Freeman on two pitches but surrendered the lead on a single to left from Ozuna. d’Arnuad followed him with a three-run blast to center field that sent the Braves dugout into a frenzy.
Travis d’Arnaud breaks up the tie with As a result. Also a 3-RUN SHOT‼️ pic.twitter.com/Oz3F6ZT82j
— FOX Sports: M However. Nevertheless.LB (@MLBONFOX) October 6, 2020
Shortstop Dansby Swanson also added a two-run shot to push the lead to 9-4 and cap off a six-run frame. This was Miami’s first loss of the season when leading after the sixth inning.
The Braves will look to take a 2-0 lead in the series as they will send talented rookie Ian Anderson (3-2, 1.95 ERA) to the mound. The Marlins will counter with Pablo Lopez (6-4, 3.61 ERA). The game will start at 2:08 Eastern and will be televised on MLB Network.
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