Catching up to the fastball was not a problem for Tyler Flowers on Friday night, as the 31-year-old catcher crushed a two-run homer and added a two-run single off heaters in the Braves’ 8-4 victory over Miami at Marlins Park, which snapped a six-game losing streak for Atlanta.
Flowers’ first homer of the season was a drive to left off Jose Urena’s 96.2-mph fastball, and in a six-run seventh inning, Atlanta’s catcher ripped Brian Ellington’s 97.6-mph fastball into right field for a two-run single.
“I was just trying to be ready because that guy throws hard,” Flowers said of his home run. “It was either going to be a heater or a slider. I was banking on the heater. I wasn’t sure how I hit it. I’m still not, honestly. I wasn’t sure if it had backspin, topspin or what. I knew I hit it hard. I was running hard to make sure I got [a double].”
The Braves provided plenty of support for Mike Foltynewicz to collect his first victory in seven outings (six starts). Foltynewicz gave up one run on six hits with four strikeouts over six innings.
“I knew the team needed a win,” Foltynewicz said. “We’re way better than what we are. I was just going to go out there and battle my butt off and try the best I could to get this win and get this thing turned around.”
Justin Bour, J.T. Realmuto and Derek Dietrich each homered for the Marlins, but the game slipped away in the seventh. Miami has now dropped 13 of its last 16. Per Statcast™, Bour’s blast projected at 384 feet with an exit velocity of 108.8 mph. The launch angle of 39 degrees elevated the drive into the second deck.
“It’s a part of growing up,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “It’s a tough time, but it’s really a time where you find out who you are. Are we going to keep playing, or are we going to cave in? To me, I like our club. I like our character, and in my mind, we’re not going to quit.”
Flowers was at the center of the Braves’ big innings, with his homer off Urena having an exit velocity of 109.2 mph, per Statcast™. And in the seventh, he led off and was hit by a Brad Ziegler pitch. Atlanta sent 11 to the plate in the inning, with Flowers capping the scoring on his two-run single.
“It’s really frustrating,” Ziegler said. “It’s probably one of the toughest sequences of my career. … Not that the whole two weeks has been great pitch after great pitch, but I feel like I’ve made some really good pitches in that stretch and don’t have anything to show for it.”
The fourth inning could have potentially gotten away from Foltynewicz, who entered the frame with a two-run lead. But Bour’s big blast cut that margin in half, and with one out, Urena singled. After allowing a hit to the opposing pitcher, the crowd was getting riled up. But Foltynewicz quieted the threat by getting Dee Gordon to bounce into a 3-6-3 double play.
“It was just really good to see him fight through some adversity and have to make pitches in tough situations,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “Everything was positive for me.”
Wild seventh breaks things open: A one-run Braves lead ballooned to a seven-run cushion in a wild seventh inning. The Braves capitalized on a hit batter and three walks. It started with Ziegler hitting Flowers with a pitch. Kyle Barraclough walked two, and Atlanta cashed in on a Barraclough balk and an error at third by Dietrich. Brandon Phillips knocked a two-run single, as did Flowers.
“It doesn’t seem like Zig can get a ground ball to somebody,” Mattingly said. “Just out of the reach of Dee and the one up the middle. So that’s going to change. That inning hurt us.”
Flowers’ two-run shot off Urena’s 96.2-mph fastball was the third-hardest pitch hit for a home run by a Braves player and the third-hardest pitch given up for a home run by a Marlins pitcher (each of the three surrendered by Urena) this year. The 109.2-mph exit velocity matched Freddie Freeman for the second-highest produced by a Brave on a home run this season. Matt Kemp produced a 111.4-mph exit velo on a home run hit off Matt Harvey on April 6.
With his pinch-hit opportunity in the eighth inning, Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki appeared in his 2,528th Major League game, tying Ernie Banks for 49th all-time.
Julio Teheran will attempt to get back on track when Atlanta and Miami meet again at 6:10 p.m. CT on Saturday. Teheran has posted an 8.02 ERA over his past four starts, but most of his struggles have come at SunTrust Park. He has a 0.93 ERA in three road starts this season.