Evan Gattis walk-off homer seals Braves’ win over Marlins
ATLANTA — It’s one of the rarest in-game redemption stories a player can experience, exacting revenge after a catcher’s interference call.
But there stood Evan Gattis on Monday night, still seething from a defensive miscue (the catcher’s interference) that helped the Miami Marlins deadlock the game in the ninth inning, but focused enough to clinch the Braves’ 4-2 home victory with a two-run home run in the 10th inning.
Gattis’s walk-off blast, the first of his MLB career, didn’t come soon enough to prevent the Braves from partaking in extra-inning affairs on back-to-back days (in different cities — New York and Atlanta), but it was an ideal capper on a "crazy" game that included 22 combined strikeouts and 22 runners left on base.
"(Just trying) to be as loose as I can, I’m trying to get a hit," the Braves’ catcher said of the big moment, while also hearkening back to his last walk-off homer, which occurred in High-A ball when the precocious slugger was "on a hot streak."
With the count at 1-0 and second baseman Dan Uggla on first base, Gattis connected on Marlins reliever Arquimedes Caminero’s fastball, grooving a high-velocity, low-liner over the left-field wall. It was a mistake on Caminero’s part to give Gattis such a meaty offering — an error in judgment that was first committed with Uggla on the previous at-bat.
"(Those guys) don’t usually miss fastballs," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said during the postgame media scrum. "Make mistakes with the ball over the plate, and that’s what they do."
Regarding the catcher’s interference call, an excitable Gattis was equal parts humorous and philosophically chagrined about how things went down on Adeiny Hechavarria’s at-bat in the ninth.
"Yeah, I was mad. I don’t know, I just don’t like the rule. I understand, but I really think if the batter’s really that late (on his swing) … if they’re going to put in play, it should be a foul tip," said Gattis, who tallied one run, two hits and two RBI for the night. "But whatever, I made the adjustment."
Gattis’s late-inning heroics overshadowed two previous occurrences: the stealth outing of Braves starter Julio Teheran (one earned run, eight strikeouts over seven strong inning) and the emergence of closer Craig Kimbrel after yielding the game-tying hit in the ninth (a double from pinch-hitter Derek Dietrich).
With Miami having the go-ahead runs on second and third base (after Dietrich’s hit), Kimbrel quickly rummaged through a gritty portion of the Marlins lineup — fanning Jeff Baker, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna on consecutive at-bats.
"Those last two or three hitters (in the 9th) was the old Craig Kimbrel. He’s fine," beamed Gonzalez about his elite-level closer.
With the victory, the Braves improved to 13-6 overall, the best record in the National League East, while also upping their divisional mark to 11-5. On the flip side, the Marlins (9-11) are still winless on the road (0-7).
For Tuesday night, Atlanta will face Miami’s 21-year-old marvel Jose Fernandez, who has a 2.66 ERA and 33/6 K-BB rate for the season.