ATLANTA – Charlie Morton has been in the majors for 16 seasons and he has never seen anything like this Atlanta Braves offense.
“Nothing much surprises me, but this is ridiculous,” Morton said. “I don’t think they realize how good they are, which is awesome.”
Ronald Acuña and Ozzie Albies homered as part of a six-run first inning and the Braves beat the Miami Marlins 7-0 on Saturday as major league batting leader Luis Arraez saw his average dip to .388.
Morton (8-6) struck out five in 5 2/3 innings and scattered four hits and one walk in winning his third consecutive start.
“His stuff was really good,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. " Any time he can get into the sixth inning, that’s great for us.”
Kirby Yates, Nick Anderson, Ben Heller, and Joe Jiménez completed the shutout for the Braves out of the bullpen.
Matt Olson went 2 for 4 with a run scored, and Austin Riley was 2 for 4 with two runs scored for the Braves, who have outscored the Marlins 23-4 in the first two games of the series.
“They are just really humble for how good they are,” the 39-year-old Morton said of the Braves’ offense, which leads the National League in runs, home runs, batting average and on-base percentage. “I feel fortunate. This is really special for me.”
The Braves have won 23 of their last 27 games and lead the second-place Marlins by eight games in the NL East.
Marlins rookie Eury Pérez (5-4), who entered the game with an MLB-best 21-inning scoreless streak and a 1.34 ERA, lasted just a third of an inning, giving up six runs and seven hits. He threw 35 pitches.
“He missed where he wanted to throw it,” Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said. “Sometimes good pitchers get hit hard. Tough start today, but we are not concerned. He just just threw it where he didn’t want to throw it.”
Arraez went 1 for 4. He is 3 for 16 over last four games and his .388 average is his lowest since June 17.
The Braves’ first-inning frenzy started with back-to-back home runs from Acuña and Albies. Riley and Olson followed with singles. Sean Murphy knocked in Riley with a double, then Marcell Ozuna drove in Olson and Murphy with a two-run single. After Pérez recorded his only out, Orlando Arcia closed the scoring with an RBI double that knocked Pérez out of the game.
“It is definitely nice to pitch with a lead, but you can also get complacent,” Morton said. “You have to be mindful of that. It is a balancing act.”
The outburst gave the Braves 87 first-inning runs in their first 82 games, including 11 in the first two games of this series.
The Marlins’ bullpen slowed the Braves after the first inning, not allowing another hit until the eighth.
Marlins rookie George Soriano, who was promoted from Triple-A Jacksonville and flew into Atlanta earlier in the day, came on in relief of Pérez in the first inning and did not allow a hit in 3 2/3 innings.
The Marlins announced they designated pitcher Archie Bradley for assignment prior to the game. In a corresponding move, the Marlins recalled Soriano. The 30-year-old Bradley appeared in four games for the Marlins this season and was 0-0 with a 12.27 ERA. He pitched 2 2/3 innings in Friday’s 16-4 loss to the Braves and gave up seven runs on seven hits, including two home runs. The Marlins would remain responsible for the remainder of his $1 million salary if they were to release him.
Marlins: Catcher Jacob Stallings, who left Friday’s game with a shin injury, is day to day. He was available in “an emergency situation” on Saturday, according to Schumaker.
Acuña’s leadoff home run was the 30th of his career. ... The Braves’ back-to-back home runs to start the game was the ninth time they have hit back-to-back home runs this season. ... Marlins hitting coach Brant Brown was ejected in the sixth inning after Yuli Gurriel was called out on strkes with the bases loaded. ... The Braves are 8-1 against the Marlins, outscoring Miami 77-26 and hitting 27 home runs in the nine games. ... The Braves clinched the season series with the Marlins on Friday for the ninth consecutive season. ... The Braves’ 61 home runs in June were the most by any National League team in any month in MLB history.
Braves RHP Spencer Strider (9-2, 3.73 ERA) will face RHP Sandy Alcantara (3-6, 4.82), the National League’s reigning Cy Young Award winner, in the finale of the teams’ three-game series.