On a relatively desolate Tuesday night, not much went right for the Braves. As the ninth inning came to the close, the Braves had achieved very little towards their purposes as a team, but a positive note would soon be discovered (despite a relatively grim two and a half hours). That positive note came off the bat of Chipper Jones, who recorded his 1500th RBI on a deep home run to center field in the ninth.
From the outset, things did not go swimmingly (or even treading-ly) for the Braves. Despite a strong start to his season (2-0, 1.84 ERA, 0.82 WHIP), Tim Hudson (who started for the Braves) earned his first loss. He had great difficulty in locating his pitches as the first inning began, especially in the case of his change-up and off-speed pitches. After Chris Coghlan reached base (as he did several times throughout the game), Hanley Ramirez singled and Coghlan scored. Unfortunately for the Braves, the single run scored in the first inning would just be the beginning of the Marlins’ offensive success.
In the second inning, Hudson’s location woes and Coghlan’s offensive proclivity continued. After the Josh Johnson drove in a Marlins’ run early in the inning, Coghlan singled the other way to left field early in the inning, and the Marlins were able to tack on three runs to their 1-0 lead.
Though he was graced with good run support from his offense on Tuesday night, sizable offensive production was simply a luxury for Josh Johnson, who started the game for the Marlins. In contrast to Hudson, Johnson’s stuff was outstanding. His slider seemed to be nearly un-hittable for the Braves’ hitters, and he cruised through Braves hitters with relative ease in the early innings. Not only were Johnson’s pitches outstanding in quality, they were also ideally placed in the strike zone. Johnson managed to keep the majority of his pitches on the lower half of the plate, making solid contact seem like a fever dream for Braves’ hitters. (Of note: According to my estimates, the Braves broke the record for lazy flyballs and weak ground-outs in a game.)
In the third inning, Tim Hudson threw a low change-up to Logan Morrison, and Morrison responded by blasting Hudson’s pitch over the fence, for the Marlins fifth and final run of the game. The Braves continued their strong defense to open the season, recording no errors in the game. A moment of interest (crazy, right?) for the Braves did occur in the seventh inning, when Chris Coghlan hit a blooper that dropped in front of Martin Prado in left field. Prado, frequently documented as of last as being new to playing left field, promptly fielded the baseball and made a quick throw to catch Coghlan, attempting to turn a single into a double, at second base for an out.
Going into the bottom of the eighth inning, Josh Johnson was pitching a no-hitter against a struggling Braves’ lineup. Thankfully, Freddie Freeman managed to end Johnson’s no-hitter with a bloop double to right field.
Other than Freeman’s double, one other bright moment stood out for the Braves. Needing just one RBI to reach 1500 for his career, Chipper Jones stepped up to the plate with one out in the ninth inning and the Braves trailing 5-0. He proceeded to connect perfectly with relief pitcher Randy Choate’s pitch, and the immediate result was a deep home run to center field. Along with recording his 1500th career RBI, Chipper Jones also recorded his first home run and 9th RBI on the season.
The Braves will finish their series with the Marlins tomorrow at 7:10 ET. Brandon Beachy will start for the Braves and face Ricky Nolasco, who will begin the game pitching for the Marlins.
Let us all collectively hope that the Braves can solve some of their hitting woes from tonight’s game.