The Blue Jays were said to be a very good team this year, and the Braves got to witness that first hand in their two series’ against them, in which they were swept both times. Pitching has still proven to be an issue for this Braves team. The starting rotation has improved and now that Max Fried is back they are starting to stabilize it, but the bullpen has continued to be the problem. However, now that Chris Martin is back on the active roster and the Braves re-signed Shane Greene to a one year deal, the Braves’ bullpen will hopefully gain some stability soon.
Game One: Bryse Wilson vs. Robbie Ray, Braves lost 5-3
It’s games like this one (and the rest of the games in this series) that are tough to swallow. The Braves started the game off great. Bryse Wilson struck out the side to start off the game. He pitched very well for the Braves in his last-minute outing. He pitched six inning, with six hits and he only gave up two runs. He had five strikeouts and no walks… NO WALKS. That is huge! Walks will always come back to haunt a pitcher, and Wilson had such good control over the baseball he didn’t walk a single batter.
The Braves scored first and early against Jays pitcher Robbie Ray. Ronald Acuña Jr. lead off the game with a first pitch single, Freeman walked, and then after a strikeout of Marcell Ozuna, Ozzie Albies (my man) had a RBI single to give the Braves a 1-0 lead. They scored again on a solo home run by Acuña in the bottom of the third.
Things looked good for the Braves until Toronto made a game of it in the top of the sixth inning on a gigantic two-run homer by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. That home run tied the game, 2-2 and took a win opportunity away from Wilson. However, in the bottom of the sixth inning, Marcell Ozuna hit an absolute BOMB to left center field to give the Braves the lead again.
Okay, now here’s where things got frustrating. Top of the eighth inning, the Braves still had the lead. A.J. Minter was on to pitch for the Braves. He gave up a lead off double to Johnathan Davis, the first batter he saw and then it went downhill from there. Next batter: Minter gets Marcus Semien to get a ball on the ground. Minter fielded the ball but he didn’t throw it to first… or second, right away at least. He looked at the runner back at second, like you should do, and started to throw it to first and then didn’t, so he threw it to second. By that time it was too late to get either player out, even after review. After that, he saw Bo Bichette and he got a single off of Minter. The Blue Jays didn’t score but played their base runners base to base. Keep in mind that A.J. Minter doesn’t have an out yet. Then, on the first pitch he saw, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit a single to tie the game at 3 a piece and for the Blue Jays to still have bases loaded, with no one out. After that disappointing outing out of Minter, the Braves brought Jacob Webb on to pitch. Webb gets Toescar Hernandez to hit a soft tapper to Freddie Freeman who was playing in a shift. That SHOULD have been an easy out except one problem… Webb didn’t go cover first base. What was he thinking?!? Instead of running to go cover first base and get an out without another Toronto run scoring, he squatted down at the side of the mound. No one else could’ve covered first and Freddie couldn’t run to the first base bag in time, so Hernandez was safe and another run scored making it 4-3 Blue Jays. They also still had the bases loaded, with no one out. Webb struck out the next batter he saw, and then gave up a bases loaded walk to Cavan Biggio to make it a 5-3 game. The walk that Jacob Webb gave up, on four straight pitches, was the ONLY walk that the Braves pitching staff gave up that game. The only one!
The Braves made a little bit of a threat in the bottom of the ninth inning, but it wasn’t enough to allow them to score, or win.
Game Two: Max Fried vs. Hyun Jin Ryu, Braves lost 4-1
This was definitely an old-fashioned pitchers’ duel through the first five innings for both teams starters. Max Fried was excellent for the Braves in this outing. He went six innings with two hits, he allowed one run, had three walks, and four strikeouts. Yes, his walks and strikeouts are close in number, but he had very good command and was able to get lots of groundouts.
In a pitchers duel, one team is bound to score and the Braves scored first. In the bottom of the fifth inning, William Contreras hit an absolute missile into the seats in left center field to give the Braves a 1-0 lead. He crushed that baseball. It sound loud, it looked loud, and it went far. His home run went a total of 463 feet. 463 feet, that’s a ton! However, it didn’t take the Blue Jays long to tie the game.
Now it was up to the Braves’ bullpen to keep the game tied at one and allow the Braves’ offense to score. That did not happen. Luke Jackson came on to pitch the seventh inning, and the first pitch he threw, Teoscar Hernandez hit way out to center field. That made it a 2-1 game, Blue Jays on top. Jackson did not give up another run and he left the game within reach for the Braves, but in the top of the ninth inning, Josh Tomlin blew that chance. On the first pitch he threw he gave up a single to Bo Bichette, and then after a line out of Guerrero Jr., Tomlin gave up the final blow. A two-run homer to Teoscar Hernandez that gave the Blue Jays a 4-1 lead. That was the final score of the game, and it hurt.
Game Three: Charlie Morton vs. Ross Stripling, Braves lost 8-4
Once again the Braves started this game out great. Offense was good, so was their starting pitching. But the bullpen blew it again. Charlie Morton pitched much better than his previous outing before this one. He went 4.2 innings, he gave up seven hits, three runs, and only two walks. He also had four strikeouts.
The Braves started their game offensively with a huge bang. On the FIRST PITCH he saw, Ronald Acuña Jr. hit a bomb to the Hank Aaron Terrace in left field at Truist Park. It was a no-doubter as soon as it hit the bat. After his home run, Freddie Freeman singled, Marcell Ozuna lined out, and then Ozzie Albies had a bloop single that advanced Freeman to third. Ehire Adrianza, who started the day at third for the Braves, had a RBI single to score Freddie. That, with the Acuña homer, gave the Braves a 2-0 lead going into the second.
The Blue Jays scored one in the top of the second on a RBI double by Jonathan Davis, and they scored two in the top of the fifth inning to give them the lead at 3-2.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Dansby Swanson hit a two-run home run to left field to give the Braves the lead again at 4-3. It was good to see him start to show a little more life at the plate given he has been in a little bit of a hitting slump.
The Braves had a huge scare in the bottom of the seventh inning. After they had already lost Christian Pache in the bottom of the second inning on Pache tweaking something in his hammy running to first base, they definitely did not need this. Ronald Acuña Jr. is batting for the Braves, he hits a ground ball to Blue Jays third baseman and Acuña is running as fast as he can to first base. When he gets to the bag he apparently missed the bad and then landed on his left ankle funny, immediately falling to the ground in pain. He had to leave the game. After the game and Acuña having gotten x-rays, there are no broken bones, thankfully, or anything seriously wrong with his ankle.
Even after the Braves had gotten the lead back, the Blue Jays weren’t giving up easily. In the top of the eighth inning, Cavan Biggio had a RBI double to score Teoscar Hernandez and tie the game at four. Then, in the top of the ninth inning, the Braves bullpen, once again, blew an opportunity for the Braves to come back and win the game.
Will Smith was pitching for the Braves to try and get them into the ninth still tied. He very much failed to do so. He gave up a lead off single to Danny Jansen and then another single to Marcus Semien and then a double on the first pitch to Bo Bichette, which scored Jansen and Semien to give the Blue Jays a 6-4 lead. Smith got a one pitch line out out of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and then he gave up yet another single, this time to Teoscar Hernandez. After that, Biggio had a double which scored Bichette, advanced Hernandez to third, and extended the Jays’ lead. Will Smith was taken out of the game. He had a very disappointing outing. Jesse Biddle came on to pitch after Smith and he got a sac fly out of Lourdes Gurriel Jr. which scored another Toronto run. That was the final run they scored making it an 8-4 Blue Jays victory.
The bullpen is a MAJOR issue for the Braves right now, and until it’s fixed, it will be hard for the Braves to win games. The bullpen needs to do its job of A: protecting a Braves’ lead, or B: keeping the game close and in reach for the Braves to come back and win. In game three of this series, Sean Newcomb and Chris Martin came out of the bullpen and both pitched 1-2-3 innings for the Braves which was a good sign. And Jacob Webb pitched 1.1 scoreless innings for the Braves. Hopefully those guys can come out of the bullpen and give the Braves the needed stability on the mound in the late innings.