Familiarity can breed contempt. It can also produce compelling playoff baseball.
With that, we present Game 1 of the National League Division Series between the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins.
The two NL East rivals lifted the lid on what should be a fun and compelling playoff series Tuesday at Houston’s Minute Maid Park, with the Braves erasing a three-run deficit and ultimately blitzing the Marlins with a six-run seventh inning to register a 9-5 victory.
They can take a commanding series lead in Wednesday’s Game 2 behind rookie Ian Anderson, who has struck out 50 batters in 38 ⅓ innings across six starts.
Yet it was offensive firepower that lifted the Braves in this best-of-five opener. Here are three takeaways from the game:
Nothing better than years-old beefs rearing their head in a playoff setting. It was August 2018 when Marlins starter Jose Ureña drilled Ronald Acuña Jr. in the elbow with a pitch leading off the game, a night after Acuña boisterously celebrated a home run. The benches cleared twice.
The beef has continued even into this season, when Ureña drilled Acuña just a month ago; alas, the right-hander is out for the playoffs after he was drilled by a comebacker in the season’s final weeks.
Not to worry. Sandy Alcantara took up for him.
Acuña led off Game 1 with a home run and then, two innings later, Alcantara drilled him in the backside with a pitch. Acuña chirped at the Marlins dugout. Manager Brian Snitker complained to the umpires.
Acuña eventually took his base. But another chapter in this low-key feud was written.
Later, Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas went in a little high at second base on the Braves’ Ozzie Albies and said a few words for emphasis.
If this series goes five games, we may need a Camp David summit.
Braves players celebrate Travis d'Arnaud's three-run homer in the seventh. (Photo: Thomas Shea, USA TODAY Sports)
Marlins closer Brandon Kintzler bemoaned how his club had to face the Braves in the cozy confines of Houston’s Minute Maid Park, which delivers its share of cheap home runs to the Crawford Boxes in left field.
Well, the Braves used the longball to win Game – but there wasn’t a cheapie in the bunch.
Acuña’s first-inning blast traveled 428 feet to the opposite field. Travis d’Arnaud’s go-ahead, three-run shot in the seventh was a 421-foot blast to dead center field. Dansby Swanson piled on with a 407-foot, two-run shot.
Yeah, this lineup rolls nine deep. Keep the ball down, boys.
They were in a 1-0 hole mere pitches into the game – and roared back with four runs in the second and third innings. They were buried in a 9-4 hole after d’Arnaud’s blast – and nearly brought the tying run to the plate in the eighth.
Yeah, the never-say-die Marlins rep isn’t just a narrative.
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