The Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins met for the final time in the 2021 season on Sunday in the rubber game of a three-game set.
The Atlanta Braves completed their first homestand of the 2021 season in April by dropping three of four games to the Miami Marlins.
That surprisingly frustrating series loss was really a microcosm of the first half of their 2021 season, as the Braves just couldn’t seem to get all facets of their very talented team clicking.
But even as the Braves made some key acquisitions in July to provide some much-needed depth in their outfield and bullpen, the Marlins would continue to provide the Braves a much stiffer challenge than they had in seasons past.
And while the Braves ultimately won the season series with the Marlins, 11-8, this fact was very evident in this recently concluded series.
The Braves fell behind early in all three games of this final series with the Marlins. But they were able to battle back on Sunday behind the long ball and another solid start by Max Fried to win both the game and the series.
The Atlanta Braves beat the Miami Marlins 5-3 on Sunday.
After falling behind 1-0 early, the Braves battled back to take the lead in the bottom of the fourth inning on a two-run Eddie Rosario home run off of Miami starter, Edward Cabrera.
The Braves looked to add to that lead when Jorge Soler doubled to lead off the bottom of the fifth inning, but both Freddie Freeman and Austin Riley would ground out, failing to bring Soler in.
But Travis d’Arnaud would make sure that the Braves would get that insurance run, as he provided a clutch two-out single to left that scored Soler and extended the Braves lead to 3-1.
After only allowing two of the first seventeen hitters he faced to reach on Sunday, Fried would run into trouble in the top of the sixth, but mostly from his own defensive miscues.
After the Marlins led off the inning with a triple and a single, Fried would mishandle a bunt attempt, and later in the inning, he failed to touch first on a ground ball that should have been a double play, giving the Marlins some extra outs to try to tie the game.
And the Marlins would take advantage of that, as Jesus Sanchez would single in the tying run with a soft line drive to center field with one out in the sixth.
Fried recovered after surrendering the Sanchez single by retiring Lewis Brinson and Joe Panik, stranding runners on first and second, and keeping the game tied at three.
The Braves would waste little time in recapturing the lead, as both Ozzie Albies and birthday boy, Freddie Freeman would hit solo homers off of Miami relief pitcher, Anthony Bass and the Braves would grab a 5-3 lead.
Will Smith came in to pitch the ninth inning. And in true Will Smith style, he would make things much more interesting than Braves fans would like, but was able to bear down and pick up his 32nd save of the season.
The Atlanta Braves hold a four and a half-game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies with 20 games left to play.
As we head down the home stretch the Braves have built a nice lead over the Phillies.
The remaining schedule will play a big role in the season’s final weeks and the Phillies should have a definite advantage there.
After an off-day on Monday, the Braves will finish off this homestand with three games against the Rockies.
From there the Braves will head west for an eleven-game road trip (including making up the suspended game versus the Padres), with stops in San Francisco, Arizona, and San Diego.
The Phillies will spend the majority of the next two weeks at home, with series against the Cubs, Orioles, and Pirates, and a trip to New York to play the Mets sandwiched in the middle.
That takes us to the last week of the season where the Braves and Phillies will square off for three games in Atlanta, before finishing off their regular-season schedules with the Mets and Marlins, respectively.
As much of an advantage as the remaining schedule should be for the Phillies, the Braves have the unquestioned advantage of sitting four and a half games ahead of Philadelphia as of now.
This means that even if the Braves play just .500 baseball the rest of the way and finish the season 86-76, the Phillies would have to go 14-5 to tie the Braves win-loss record.
Barring a collapse, the Braves have set themselves up nicely to win a fourth straight NL East pennant and earn a series in the 2021 postseason.
And with the recent contract extensions for Travis d’Arnaud and Charlie Morton, the hopeful contract extension of Freddie Freeman, and the returns from injury next season of both Ronald Acuna and Mike Soroka added to the core group in place on this club, the Braves should be set up with a very good chance to rule the NL East in 2022 and beyond.