ATLANTA -- While it might be easy to say that it was only a matter of time, it certainly wasn't easy for the Braves to endure the first 35 innings of this homestand as they put on a clinic on how to strand a plethora of runners and repeatedly squander
ATLANTA -- While it might be easy to say that it was only a matter of time, it certainly wasn't easy for the Braves to endure the first 35 innings of this homestand as they put on a clinic on how to strand a plethora of runners and repeatedly squander scoring opportunities in maddening fashion.
Eventually, the law of averages had to take effect and provide some good fortune for the Braves, who certainly received plenty of it as they took advantage of a defensive blunder, benefited from a game-changing replay review and recorded a couple of big hits during the decisive two-run eighth inning in Friday night's 4-2 win over the Marlins.
"I'm not one to make excuses, but it was about time we got some breaks tonight," said Jeff Francoeur, who recorded a career-high four hits, including a single during a two-run fifth inning that halted Atlanta's frustrations with runners in scoring position.
While the fifth might have turned the tide, the eighth unfolded in an unfamiliar manner for the Braves, who had won just two of their previous 22 home games. Kelly Johnson began the decisive frame with a bloop double that landed between Adeiny Hechavarria and Cole Gillespie in shallow left field. Atlanta gained more good fortune when a replay review reversed the initial ruling that Tyler Flowers had hit into an inning-ending 1-2-3 double play.
All of this set the stage for Nick Markakis, who had entered the night hitless in his past 16 at-bats and with a .119 batting average over his past 16 games. Markakis capped his two-hit night by lacing the game-winning two-run single that skipped out of third baseman Martin Prado's glove and landed in left field.
"When that ball went off that glove, it was just like, 'Wow, it can happen,'" manager Brian Snitker said. "We were wondering."
Snitker certainly had plenty of reason to wonder. The Braves stranded eight runners and went hitless in nine at-bats with runners in scoring position through the first four innings. It was just an extension of the misery that was experienced earlier this week, when the Braves went 1-for-23 with runners in scoring position while getting swept by the Brewers.
Through Friday's fourth, the Braves had stranded 36 runners through this homestand's first 35 innings. But this ugly trend was halted during the fifth. After Freddie Freeman scored from first base on Tyler Flowers' double, Flowers advanced to third base on a Markakis single and scored when Francoeur followed with a single of his own.
During those consecutive plate appearances recorded by Markakis and Francoeur, the Braves recorded more hits with runners in scoring position than they had through their previous 32 at-bats compiled in these situations during the homestand.
Freeman got into the act in the eighth inning when his single loaded the bases for Flowers. It also served as just the second hit he has had over 27 at-bats with runners in scoring position dating back to April 24.
"You guys have done a good job of keeping us afloat of what our runners in scoring position numbers are," Francoeur said. "The first four innings, there it was four times. But you've got to believe if you keep getting guys on like that, eventually something was going to click, and eventually it did."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.