A Wrap of the Braves First Half of the Season

To say the least, it was a chaotic, unstable, and disappointing first half for the Atlanta Braves. They did not end the first half of the season with a winning record, let alone a .500 record. They entered the All-Star break with a losing record of 44-45.

Inconsistency was a big factor in that. Their pitching was all over the place – especially the bullpen. In their starting rotation, Charlie Morton was the only reliable one. And that is still somewhat true coming into this second half of the season. Drew Smyly has gotten more consistent, as well as Max Fried and Ian Anderson. But Atlanta’s bullpen was, and is, the main problem. Their bullpen couldn’t keep a Braves’ lead in a tight scoring game or keep the run differential close in a situation where the Braves were losing. Another problem that their pitching staff has is that they walk WAY too many batters. It seems almost every time pitchers walk a guy, they come back and score. Walks will always come back to haunt a pitcher. They’ve also had some closer problems: AJ Minter and Will Smith. They come on to pitch in the ninth inning, and it seems like they try to find a way to blow the game. They walk batters, give up home runs, allow hits and runs galore. This season they have given up almost 30 hits, 30 runs, and over 20 walks. They doesn’t pitch every single day, but those aren’t the numbers you want to see from your closers.

The Braves have also been tortured with injuries. The most significant of those would be the most recent: Ronald Acuña Jr. is out of the rest of the season. And, of course, his season-ending injury came against the Miami Marlins. In game two of the most recent series played with Miami (July 10th), Acuña was trying to field a well-hit ball at the warning track in right field. He ran full speed towards the baseball in mid-air and missed. He then fell and put all of his body weight on his right knee, which buckled under all the pressure. He then collapsed, and after being carted off the field, he was examined and he’d torn his right ACL. He had to have immediate surgery, and he will miss the rest of the 2021 season.

Atlanta will now have to finish their 2021 season without their young superstar. Obviously things will be different offensively and defensively, but I don’t think this takes them out of postseason chances. The Braves will just have to work harder and play a better. And if they do make it to the postseason, it will prove just how good this Atlanta Braves team really is.

Another injury- which turned into a shocking blow, came in the month of May. This came from Marcell Ozuna. On May 26th, against the Boston Red Sox, Ozuna fractured two fingers sliding into third base. He was sent to Atlanta for examination and treatment. Three days later, on May 29th an article was released that he had been arrested for domestic family violence. That was certainly a shocking and unexpected blow for the Braves. Not only is he hurt and won’t be able to play this season… but he was arrested, and got out of jail not too long ago. So he is definitely done for this season, if not for the rest of his career.

The Braves also lost Travis d’Arnaud to a torn left thumb ligament. He tore it on May 1st and has been on the injured list since. Hopefully he can come back in mid-August. He is such a good player, and it’s a shame for him to not be able to play.

The final injury that I’m going to discuss is that of Huascar Ynoa. Ynoa had pitched some with the Braves in relief during the 2019 and 2020 seasons, but his career as a starting pitcher really began this season. And boy, was he impressive! In fact, he was probably the best pitcher Atlanta had AND he could hit. In seventeen at-bats, he had six hits, and two home runs – one of witch was a grand slam. A GRAND SLAM!! He was beyond impressive at the plate and on the mound.

However, after a frustrating start on the mound for Huascar, he went into the Braves dugout and punched the bench. Nothing was said of it during the game in mid-May. But after his hand was evaluated, he had broken it. So disappointing. He was such an impressive young player and had (hopefully still has) such a great career ahead of him. He was, is, and will be missed by the Braves. Ynoa’s return date isn’t clear, but it is not expected until after the middle of August.

Although the Braves had many struggles and hard times in the first half of the season, they had shining moments that gave us hope that the Atlanta Braves we know and love are still with us!

Up to his season-ending injury, Ronald Acuña Jr. had an amazing season. He hit twenty-four home runs… TWENTY-FOUR! That is an insane amount. Multiple players across MLB don’t hit that many home runs in an entire 162-game season. He definitely had some sparks coming off his bat almost every time he was at the plate. Acuña was to make his second All-Star Game appearance as a starter this year, but obviously his injury robbed him of that great opportunity. He also led all of MLB players in All-Star votes. Wow!

Ozzie Albies had a great first half to his 2021 season. No, he hasn’t hit as many home runs as Acuña, nor is he the “face of the franchise,” but he is just as good – if not better than Acuña. He leads the Braves in RBI’s with 63, and he leads them in doubles with 27. Not only is Ozzie impressive at the plate, he is extremely impressive on the field. His defensive skills are through the roof! He may be smaller than everyone else… but he can run fast, field well, and make super hard plays look easy. My Ozzie is a consistent, reliable player that the Braves can count on. He was also voted into the All-Star game – and he got to play! It was his second appearance, and he wasn’t a starter, even though he should have been. Albies is such a fun player to watch, and I can’t wait to see what he continues to bring for Atlanta the rest of the season!

Freddie Freeman got off to a very, very slow first few weeks for Atlanta, but he finally started to heat up and look like the MVP Freddie we are used too. Coming into the break (and even now out of the break) his bat was hot. He was hitting extra base hits galore. Before his bat came to life, all he did was walk…or strikeout. Freeman was also awarded the honor of being in the All-Star game. It was his fifth All-Star appearance, and he was a starter.

There are SO MANY good things that have happened already for the Braves this season – even with them having a losing record and their struggles. However, with their two newly added players: outfielder Joc Pederson and catcher Stephen Vogt, I believe that Atlanta will hit a streak where everything starts to click and they will get to a winning record. They really need to put some major pressure on the first place Mets in the NL East.

Braves vs. Pirates Series Wrap

Well, I think it’s safe to say, this series did not go anything like we expected – or how it should have gone. The Braves lost the first two games, and won the third. If they had swept the Pittsburg Pirates they would have had a winning record. Atlanta now has to win two games against the Marlins to have a 44-44 record, or if they sweep the Fish, they will have a winning record going into the All-Star break.

Game One: Max Fried vs. Chase De Jong, Braves lost 11-1

Max Fried did not have is best outing. I mean he did hit a walk-off the day before, but still. He pitched five innings, allowed seven hits, six runs, two walks, and he had five strikeouts. The first four innings he pitched weren’t bad, he just ran into trouble in the fifth and couldn’t get himself out of it.

Fried’s underwhelming outing left the rest of game one in the hands of Atlanta’s shaky bullpen. Josh Tomlin came out of the bullpen for the Braves in the seventh inning and gave up five more runs to give the Pirates a grand total of eleven runs. Tomlin has not had that great of a season so far for Atlanta. Normally he is lights-out and can go multiple innings, but this year he is having trouble completing one inning without giving up a least one run.

The Braves did score one run – they actually scored it in the top of the first inning! Ronald Acuña Jr. lead off the game with a single, and then Freddie Freeman drove him in with a double. The Pirates right fielder, Phillip Evans, couldn’t pick up the baseball and make the throw to attempt to keep Acuña from scoring. I’m not entirely sure if Acuña would have scored if Evans hadn’t made an error – but we’ll never know.

Game Two: Ian Anderson vs. Chad Kuhl, Braves lost 2-1

Ian Anderson did not pitch a bad game at all. He only went five innings, but he had a high pitch count of 91 pitches – so I’m assuming that’s why Snitker took him out. In those five innings he pitched, he gave up five hits, one run, three walks, and had four strikeouts. So, overall, it really wasn’t a bad outing; he just threw a lot of pitches.

The Braves scored their one and only run in the top of the fifth inning on a solo home run by our left fielder, Orlando Arcia. He hit that baseball a long way into the seats in left center field, getting the Braves on the board.

Up till the ninth inning, Atlanta’s pitching was great. Both the starting pitcher and the relief pitchers were able to keep it a tie game at 1-1.

However, it’s baseball. And someone is bound to win one way or another. In the bottom ninth inning, Tyler Maztek was sent onto the mound for the Braves to send them into extra innings. That did NOT happen. Maztek walked the first batter he faced, gave up a single to the next, and another walk to load the bases with Pirates. There was no one out. At this point you knew that Pittsburg was going to win, and sure enough they did. With a four pitch, bases-loaded walk, to Bryan Reynolds the Pirates won the game 2-1. Out of all the ways that the Braves could have allowed the Pirates to walk it off, a bases-loaded walk is the worst. They didn’t even have to work for their win. All they had to do was stand at the plate, with a bat in their hands, and watch the balls go into the dirt.

Game Three: Drew Smyly vs. Wil Crowe, Braves won 14-3

Finally. The Braves won, and they beat out some anger against the Pirates. All throughout this 2021 season, the Braves haven’t clicked on all cylinders. Some days pitching is great and the offense isn’t – or vise versa. In this game, the pitching AND the offense were great for Atlanta, and the result of that was even better: a Braves win! One thing to note before we dive into this Braves win – Ozzie Albies was taken out of this game after popping out in the top of the fifth inning. Nothing is seriously wrong with him, (thank goodness!). Brian Snitker took him out of the game as a precaution because he was dealing with neck tightness. Obviously, knowing the type of player my Ozzie is, he did not want to be taken out of that game. But, in the end, he was taken out to play it safe and not risk him getting seriously hurt and have to miss more than just a game or two. And, of course, Ozzie has to be healthy for his All Star appearance next week!

Drew Smyly didn’t have his best outing for the Braves, but it wasn’t awful; he still got the win. Smyly went five innings, allowed nine hits, three runs, three walks, and he had four strikeouts. The three runs he gave up, which were the only three runs the Pirates scored, came in the bottom of the first inning on a three-run home run by Jacob Stallings. Other than that he, and the Atlanta Braves bullpen for that matter, were lights out.

The Braves scored their first run on an RBI single by Austin Riley. He scored Ozzie Albies who had a hustle double before him. Going into the third inning, the Braves are down 3-1. Ronald Acuña Jr. brought Atlanta one run closer when he belted a solo home run into left center field, making it a 3-2 game.

To start off the sixth inning for Atlanta, Dansby Swanson led off with a walk. He stole second base and then Guillermo Heredia followed him with a walk. The Braves newly acquired catcher, Jonathan Lucroy had a sacrifice bunt to advance Swanson to third and Heredia to second. On the very next pitch of the ballgame, Abraham Almonte, fresh off the bench, hit a two-RBI single, giving the Braves the lead at 4-3. Almonte’s base hit brought Acuña up, with one out. He had a single, which was followed by a groundout by Freeman to make the second out. Then, to load the bases with Braves, Ehire Adrianza walked. Adrianza was in brought in the game to fill in for Ozzie. So, with the bases loaded, Austin Riley was up. He walked, which allowed Swanson to score, extending their lead to 5-3. Orlando Arcia extended the Braves lead again with a two-RBI single, making it 7-3 all Atlanta.

The Atlanta Braves added their final offensive blow on the Pirates in the top of the eighth inning. To lead off the inning, Adrianza had a single. Austin Riley followed him with a lineout. So, with one out, Ender Inciarte was up to bat. He had an RBI double to score Adrianza and make it 8-3. Dansby scored Ender with an RBI double, making it 9-3. Heredia had a groundout to make the second out. Jonathan Lucroy kept the Braves alive with a RBI single which scored Swanson and made it 10-3 Atlanta. To make it 12-3 Braves, Abraham Almonte hit a two-run homer. And then, to score the FINAL two Atlanta runs, Ehire Adrianza had a two-RBI double, that scored Acuña and Freeman who both reached base on singles their previous at-bats. That made it 14-3, all Braves!

Things have still been scattered for the Atlanta Braves this 2021 season. They are going to have to figure things out soon, or they aren’t going to have a very enjoyable rest of the season.

Braves vs. Marlins Series Wrap

For the past few years, almost every time the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins face off, there is bound to be some sparks between the two teams. That did not fail in this series, and we’ll get to that in further detail later. Atlanta did, however, take two out of three games in this series.

Game One: Drew Smyly vs. Pablo López, Braves won 1-0

Woah. This game started with some MAJOR sparks. To start off the bottom of the first inning, Pablo López hit Ronald Acuña Jr. with the FIRST pitch he threw. Acuña was not happy, and Braves manager, Brian Snitker wasn’t happy at all. Immediately after Acuña was plunked with the pitch, the home plate umpire issued warnings. But Snitker wasn’t satisfied with that. He came out on the field saying he’d had enough of the Marlins “shenanigans” with his young stud, Ronald Acuña Jr. The umpires got together and after discussion, threw López out of the game. He only threw one pitch. Miami’s manager, Don Mattingly AND their pitching coach (Mel Stottlemyre Jr.) were thrown out of the game defending their pitcher, Pablo López. In my opinion, and I think a lot of other people’s, Pablo López DID NOT mean to hit Acuña. You could tell by his reaction after his pitch hit Acuña…he grimaced. If a pitcher means to his a player, they don’t have an apologetic reaction. Instead, they stare at the player they hit without feeling any type of regret.

After all that drama, the game went on. Miami had to go to their bullpen, and the Braves had to focus on scoring, and they did just that. Because he was hit with a pitch, Acuña was on first base. Freeman followed Acuña with a single that advanced Ronald to third. That made it to where there were runners on the corners and no one out. My man, Ozzie Albies was up to bat. He hit a sac fly to right field, that allowed Acuña to score and it gave the Braves a 1-0 lead. That was the ONLY run scored in the entire game…wow!

Drew Smyly pitched fantastic for the Braves. He went 5.2 innings, allowed three hits, ZERO runs, two walks and he had seven strikeouts. His impressive outing on the mound was very key in this Braves win. Atlanta’s bullpen followed Smyly’s start, with good relief pitching.

Braves closer, Will Smith tried to blow the game for us in the top of the ninth inning when he had the bases loaded with one out. But somehow he got out of the mess he made, and preserved a Braves win with a final score of 1-0.

Game Two: Kyle Muller vs. Sandy Alcantara, Braves lost 3-2

Kyle Muller did not have a bad outing. He went 5.2 innings, allowed four hits, three runs, four walks, and he had seven strikeouts. Ultimately, with a lack of Braves offense, Marlins pitcher, Sandy Alcantara out-dueled Muller and got the win.

Miami got the lead at 2-0 in the top of the third inning. Coming into the fifth inning, that was still the score of the game. Kyle Muller started the bottom of the fifth inning with a strikeout for Atlanta. Acuña reached base on a fielding error by Miami’s third baseman, John Berti. Freeman followed him with a first pitch single, which advanced Acuña to third. Then my man Ozzie, had a first pitch RBI single that scored Acuña and got the Braves on the board making it a 2-1 game. Ozzie knows how to do his job!

The Marlins came right back to score one more in the top of the sixth inning, extending their lead to 3-1. In the bottom of the seventh inning, Atlanta got one run closer when Freddie Freeman had an RBI single that scored Ehire Adrianza, who reached base on a fielding error. That made the score 3-2. Which was the final score of the game. Overall pitching wasn’t bad for the Braves – it was just a lack of offense that made the biggest difference.

Game Three: Charlie Morton vs. Zach Thompson, Braves won 8-7

What a game! It seemed like the Braves were behind the Marlins almost the entire game. But somehow – someway – they came back and WON!

Charlie Morton had a rougher outing than we are accustomed to seeing from him. He went 5.1 innings, allowed five hits, four runs, two walks, and he had five strikeouts. So overall it wasn’t a horrible start, it just wasn’t what the type of start that Morton has had for the Braves.

Atlanta had the lead in the beginning of the game. In the bottom of the second inning, Ronald Acuña Jr.u hit a two-run bomb to give them the lead at 2-0. After his home run, Miami came back to score four runs; one in the top of the third, and the other three in the top of the sixth. That gave them the lead at 4-2. Atlanta made it a 4-3 game in the bottom of the sixth when Dansby Swanson had an RBI double that scored Freeman.

In the top of the ninth inning, Miami added on to their lead big time. Shane Greene came on to pitch for Atlanta. He gave up a solo home run to Sandy Leon, their catcher, and a two-run homer to Jesus Aguilar, their first baseman. That made it a 7-3 Marlins lead.

Going into the bottom of the ninth inning, things did not look good at all for the Atlanta Braves. However, they changed that! To lead off the bottom of the ninth inning, Austin Riley had a single. Dansby Swanson followed him with a forecourt which got Riley out at second but allowed Swanson to be safe at first. Heredia reached base on a single. So there were two Braves on the bases and one man out. Orlando Arcia had an RBI single that scored Swanson making it a 7-4 game. Pinch-hitter, Pablo Sandoval reached base on a walk, and then he was replaced with a pinch-runner, Ender Inciarte. Abraham Almonte had a two-RBI double that made it a 7-6 game. And then, to tie the game, Ronald Acuña Jr. had a sac fly that scored Inciarte from third base. It was a 7-7 game!

Going into the tenth inning, both teams were looking to end the game right then and there. The Miami Marlins were sent down in order by Braves closer, Will Smith. It was now up to the Braves offense.

Because of the extra inning rule, a runner is automatically placed on second base. Austin Riley was that guy for Atlanta. To start off the bottom of the tenth, Dansby Swanson was intentionally walked. Guillermo Heredia had a fly out to make the first out of the inning. Miami also intentionally walked Orlando Arcia to load the bases with Braves. Marlins pitcher, Anthony Bass, threw a wild pitch. Austin Riley streaked for home plate and he…scored??? The home-plate umpire called Austin Riley safe, but the Miami Marlins challenged the play at the plate, and the call was overturned. Riley was out. On the wild pitch Dansby Swanson advanced to third base.

Miami intentionally walked another Braves batter, their catcher, Kevan Smith to reload the bases. Because Atlanta has a short bench to begin with, they brought Max Fried, who is one of their starting pitchers, to come in and hit. Guess what he did?! After working a 3-1 count, Fried sent a line drive single into center field that scored Swanson and walked the game off for the Atlanta Braves with a final score of 8-7. Yes, that was his first walk-off!

What a great way for the Braves to end off the series with Miami, a walk-off win. After EVERYTHING that these two teams have gone through, at the end of the day, it’s still baseball.

Braves vs. Mets Series Wrap

What a series! What should have been a sweep of the New York Mets turned into an exciting, stress-filled series! The Atlanta Braves won the series, winning two out of three. Atlanta’s offense really came to life in these three games… but it was an especially good series for their second baseman- my man Ozzie Albies. He had a total of seven hits in these three games against division rivals, the New York Mets. Most of his hits were HUGE for the Braves, not to mention he had an OUTSTANDING game at the plate in game two of this series.

Game One: Tylor Megill vs. Charlie Morton, Braves lost 4-3

The Braves did not have a “bad game” they just had one pitching slip-up, that ended up costing them game one of this series.

Charlie Morton went six innings for the Braves. He gave up five hits, three runs, one walk and he had seven strikeouts. The seventh inning was where Charlie struggled a little bit. He started the inning with a lead off single, followed by a walk and then he gave up the game tying home run to James McCann. Morton was taken out of the game after he surrendered the home run. He didn’t pitch a bad game at all; he just hung a pitch, and McCann didn’t miss it.

The game was a scoreless tie going into the bottom of the fifth inning. After Contreras and Morton both got out to start the inning, Acuña and Freeman both reached base via a single. My Ozzie was up to bat. On the very FIRST PITCH he saw, he CRUSHED it out of the ballpark into straightaway center. He was pumped, the ballpark was ecstatic…it was a HUGE hit for him AND the Braves!!

After Charlie Morton gave up the home run in the top of the seventh to tie the game at three, A.J. Minter was brought on to pitch. He got an out, gave up a double, got another out, and then gave up an RBI single to Fransisco Lindor to break the tie and give the Mets the lead 4-3. In my personal opinion, Minter needs to be sent down to Triple-A. In almost every single appearance from the bullpen, he gives up at least one run. Not to mention, a lot of those runs he gives up are in close games, or tied games like this one.

That seventh inning blew the game for Atlanta, and they couldn’t get anymore offense together to attempt to win.

Game Tw0: Max Fried vs. David Peterson, Braves won 20-2

What a game for Ozzie Albies! He was 5-for-7 at the plate, with TWO home runs, THREE singles, and SEVEN runs batted in. Not to mention… this was his first career five hit game!!

Things got off to a shaky start for Max Fried and the Braves. Fried gave up a two-run homer to Pete Alonso in the top of the first to start the game…but it was ALL Braves after that.

Bottom of the first: Ronald Acuña Jr. leads off with a home run, making it a 2-1 game. Freeman follows his homer with a one-pitch single. He advanced to second base (which got him into scoring position) on a wild pitch. My man, Ozzie Albies took advantage of New York’s pitchers slip-up, and had an RBI single that tied the game at two a piece. They scored two more runs in the bottom of the third when Austin Riley had a line drive single, scoring Freeman and Ozzie, and making it 4-2 Atlanta.

Bottom of the fourth: Abraham Almonte led off the inning with a one-pitch double. Braves catcher, Kevan Smith had an RBI single that scored Almonte. That made the score 5-2, Braves on top. Max Fried was batting… he hit into a fielders choice. However, Mets pitcher Sean Reid-Foley, who was fresh outta the bullpen, had a throwing error that allowed Smith to advance to third base and for Fried to advance to second. Ronald Acuña Jr. made the first out of the inning with a groundout.

Even though there was one out, the Braves weren’t done yet! Freddie Freeman had an RBI single to score Kevan Smith, and then Ozzie followed him with his second RBI single of the night to score Fried. Austin Riley followed those two singles with yet another RBI single! Those three singles once again extended Atlanta’s lead, it was now an 8-2 game. Dansby Swanson reached base on a walk to load the bases with Braves. Guillermo Heredia had a two-RBI double to extend the Braves lead even more. Almonte had the final offensive blow (of that inning) with an RBI groundout to score Dansby Swanson. Making it 11-2… ALL Atlanta!

After two quick outs of Fried and Acuña to start the fifth inning, Freeman kept it alive with a double. So, with one on and two out, my Ozzie was up to bat. He absolutely SMOKED a ball into the seats in left field for a two-run BOMB!! That was his third hit of the night…he was 3-for-3. Ehire Adrianza, who came into the game to replace Acuña, hit a home run in his first plate-appearance of the night! It was a first-pitch bomb, once again extending the Braves lead, 14-2.

Bottom of the eighth inning: Heredia led off the inning with a ground-rule double. He was followed by two back-to-back walks – one to Kevan Smith and the other to Abraham Almonte. Ender Inciarte, who was pinch-hitting, walked with the bases loaded to score another Atlanta run. Then, with the bases still loaded, Panda was up to bat. He was hit with a pitch (non-intentional, of course), but it scored another Braves run, making it 16-2. Adrianza had an RBI groundout to score the Braves catcher (Kevan Smith), and then my Ozzie CRUSHED and absolute NO DOUBTER into right center field for his SECOND home run of the night, his FIFTH hit, and it made the Braves lead a whopping 20-2. Wooohooo!!

This was an extremely exciting game! Especially for me since I am a die-hard Ozzie Albies fan.

Game Three: Ian Anderson vs. Jacob deGrom, Braves won 4-3

What a great way for the Atlanta Braves to end the series with the Mets. They not only won the series, but also scored three runs off of Jacob deGrom – the most runs he has given up all year!

Ian Anderson did not pitch bad for the Braves. He got off to a shaky start – giving up one run in the top of the first – but after that he was pretty much able to dial it in. He pitched seven innings, gave up a total of two runs, allowed three hits, two walks, and had two strikeouts.

After the Mets got the lead 1-0 in the top of the first inning, the Braves came right back in the bottom of the first. Ehire Adrianza led off the game with a triple. Freddie Freeman struck out, and then my Ozzie had an RBI single that scored Adrianza and tied the game 1-1. Austin Riley followed Ozzie’s RBI single with a line drive, two-run home run to give Atlanta the lead at 3-1. The Braves were able to score three runs off of Jacob deGrom in the first inning…that is highly impressive!

In the top of the seventh inning, Dominic Smith hit a solo homer off of Ian Anderson to make it a 3-2 game. The Braves were still on top. However, in the top of the ninth inning, Brian Snitker brought Braves closer Will Smith on to pitch. He had ONE job…to preserve a Braves win. He did not do that. He gave up another solo home run to Dominic Smith to tie the game at three. He not only blew the save, but took a well-earned win away from Ian Anderson, AND a rare loss from Jacob deGrom. The Braves now had to come up with an offensive spark.

To lead off the bottom of the ninth inning, Heredia had a single for the Braves. He was followed by two quick outs. One was a groundout by Sandoval (his groundout advanced Heredia to third), and the other was a strikeout by Kevin Smith. Ronald Acuña Jr. was intentionally walked by the Mets, and then Ender Inciarte reached base on a walk. The Braves had bases loaded with two out. Freddie Freeman was up to bat. He was 0-for-4 in this game…he struck out in all four at-bats. But that strikeout, hitless streak didn’t continue. On the very first pitch he saw, he had an infield single that scored Heredia and allowed the Braves to win 4-3!!

This was a HUGE series win for Atlanta – they showed that they can take on the best and come out on top!

Braves vs. Reds Series Wrap

Another split series, but hey, I’d rather have that than a sweep. The Braves lost the first game, won the second, lost the third, and then won the fourth and final game of the series against Cincinnati. Once again pitching was the main problem. I am willing to bet money on it; once the Atlanta Braves can figure out their bullpen problems, they will be an even better team than they have already proved they can be because they won’t be blowing every other game they play.

Game One: Jesse Chavez vs. Tony Santillan, Braves lost 5-3

Atlanta struck first in the scoring category. In the top of the first inning, Freddie Freeman hit a solo home run to give his team a 1-0 lead.

I’d personally never seen Jesse Chavez pitch before this game. His stuff was decent. I would’ve liked to’ve seen him pitch more than just 2.1 innings, but that didn’t happen. In his 2.1 innings, he gave up to hits, two runs, one walk and he had three strikeouts.

The Reds kept up their 2-1 lead all the way into the seventh inning, where they added on. Luke Jackson was pitching for the Braves and this was the first outing where he actually struggled. He gave up a two run home run to Reds right fielder, Nick Castellanos to extend their lead to 4-0.

In the top of the eighth inning, the Braves made a shot at coming back. Freddie Freeman started the inning with a lineout. My my, Ozzie Albies was up to bat following Freeman with one out. On the first pitch he saw, he hit it out of the ballpark for solo home run making the Braves one run closer at 4-2. Austin Riley followed Ozzie’s homer with a single, and then Abraham Almonte reached base on a fielding error by Cincinnati’s first baseman, Joey Votto. Ehire Adrianza came up to bat (he was in the game playing right field for Ronald Acuña Jr., who wasn’t in the game because of back tightness), and he had an RBI single that scored Austin Riley making the score 4-3. The Braves had another opportune chance to score again that inning, but it wasn’t meant to be.

Chris Martin came on to pitch the bottom of the eighth inning for the Braves and keep them within a one run differential. Martin, however, wasn’t able to do that. After getting the first two batters to groundout and lineout, he gave up a double to the Reds second baseman Jonathan India, which was followed by a walk to Jesse Winker. So, with two out and two on, Nick Castellanos was up to bat. He had a first pitch RBI single that extended the Reds lead to 5-3. Winker was thrown out trying to score all the way from first to end the inning, but India had already scored before he got out.

Game Two: Drew Smyly vs. Vladimir Gutierrez, Braves won 3-2

Drew Smyly pitched very well for Atlanta. He went six innings, gave up six hits, one run, ZERO walks, and he had three strikeouts. His command was good, he had control over where his pitches were going, and he never got into any high-stress situations. To end his outing, Smyly only had 84 pitches. I think he could’ve gone at least another inning.

The game was scoreless until the top of the fifth. After two quick outs of the Braves’ eighth place hitter and pitcher, Acuña kept the inning alive with a walk. Acuña stole second base and then Freddie Freeman hit a ground-rule, RBI double giving the Braves a 1-0 lead. In the top of sixth inning, with two outs, Dansby Swanson hit a first-pitch, solo home run extending Atlanta’s lead at 2-0.

The Reds scored one in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI double by Tyler Stephenson to make it 2-1. However, Guillermo Heredia hit a solo home run in the top of the seventh inning to extend the Braves lead at 3-1. It was sent into straightaway center, and it went a LONG way.

Cincinnati came one run closer in the bottom of the seventh inning when Eugenio Suarez it a solo home run, but it wasn’t enough and the Braves won with a final score of 3-2.

Game Three: Ian Anderson vs. Luis Castillo, Braves lost 4-1

Ian Anderson did not pitch a bad game for the Braves. He just made a couple pitch mistakes and the Cincinnati lineup took advantage of that. Anderson went six inning; he allowed five hits, three runs, one walk, and he had a career-tying nine strikeouts.

The Reds had a three-nothing lead coming into the top of the eighth inning. Freddie Freeman started the inning with a groundout. My man, Ozzie Albies followed his strikeout with a four pitch walk. Austin Riley followed Ozzie with a three pitch, swinging strikeout. There were now two outs with one on. Swanson kept the inning alive with a walk. So two men, Albies and Swanson, reached base via the base-on-balls. Guillermo Heredia had an RBI single that scored Ozzie and got the Braves on the board, making it a 3-1.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Edgar Santana came on to pitch for Atlanta. The second pitch he threw was hit out of the ballpark by Red’s catcher Tyler Stephenson, extending their lead to 4-1.

The Braves could not get their bats to come to life enough in the ninth inning to give them a chance to score, so the Reds won.

Game Four: Kyle Muller vs. Tyler Mahle, Braves won 4-0

What a game for Kyle Muller! He went five scoreless innings, only allowed one hit, two walks, and he struck out nine Cincinnati players. Muller has some impressive stuff. He made pitches when he needed to, he didn’t work too many deep counts, and never had to work his way out of a high-stress situation.

Offensively in this game, it was all Braves. Guillermo Heredia was hit by a pitch to start the top of the third inning. He was followed by two strikeouts; one by cater Kevan Smith and the other by pitcher, Kyle Muller. Acuña kept the inning going with an RBI double, giving the Braves a 1-0 lead. The very next pitch following Acuña’s double, Freddie Freeman hit for an RBI single to score Ronald and extend the Braves lead to 2-0.

In the top of the fifth inning, the Braves added onto their lead when Ronald Acuña Jr. went yard, sending one into the seats in straightaway center for a solo home run; making it 3-0 Atlanta. In the top of the sixth inning, Austin Riley decided to get in on the home run fun. He hit a solo home run, also to straightaway center, extending the Braves’ lead once again making it 4-0.

This was an overall great game for the Atlanta Braves. Starting pitch was great and so was the bullpen. Offensively, it went well for the Braves, too. It seems they have a game like this every series. If they can get into the groove/routine of doing this more often, they are going to win a lot more baseball games. Come on, Bravos!

Braves vs. Cardinals Series Wrap

Winning three out of four of the games in this series, the Atlanta Braves started to look a little more like an impressive MLB team. Winning the first two, the Braves had some serious momentum going into game three… until it was postponed a day because of the rain. They played a doubleheader for the last two games, and split those with the Cards.

Game One: Charlie Morton vs. John Gant, Braves won 4-0

What a game for Charlie Morton! He went 7.2 innings, allowed only three hits, ZERO runs, ZERO walks, oh and he had seven strikeouts. He was very impressive, and it was so nice to see a Braves starting pitcher go more than five innings. He dominated over St. Louis’ lineup, throwing pitches they couldn’t see and hitting his spots wonderfully.

Offensively, in the game, it was ALL Braves. Guillermo Heredia broke the scoreless streak in the bottom of the fifth inning when he hit a solo home run, giving the Braves a 1-0 lead. They added onto that 1-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth when, my man, Ozzie Albies had an RBI triple that scored Acuña and extended the lead to 2-0. It amazes me how fast Ozzie is. He flies around the base pads! Abraham Almonte followed Ozzie’s triple with an RBI double that scored Ozzie and made it a 3-0 game.

The Braves scored their final score on a sac fly by Ronald Acuña Jr. in the bottom of the seventh. That sac fly scored Heredia and made the score 4-0. That was the final score of this game. I think we can all agree… the superstar of this game was Charlie Morton.

Game Two: Max Fried vs. Carlos Martínez, Braves won 9-1

In baseball, there’s nothing I love more than a Braves win. Well… except when Ozzie Albies has a great night. And in this game, he did awesome!! We’ll get into everything he did in greater detail, but he was 3-5 with a home run. Also, he was just a triple away from hitting for the cycle.

Max Fried pitched very well for the Braves. He went seven innings, only allowed two hits and one run. He did have two walks, but he also had six strikeouts. Fried never seemed to get himself into any trouble. He had a few baserunners scattered, but it was never a “concern.” He had good command over his pitches and his pitch count. Overall it was just a great outing for Max Fried.

The one run that the St. Louis Cardinals scored was in the bottom of the first on an RBI groundout by Paul Goldschmidt. It also gave them a 1-0 lead. (Which didn’t last long!)

The Braves came right back to tie the game at one in the bottom of the first on an RBI single by Austin Riley that scored Ozzie, who reached base with a double in the previous AB. That single tied the game at one apiece.

The second inning is where Atlanta’s offense did a lot of their damage. William Contreras led off the Braves half of the second with a ONE PITCH solo home run to left center field. That bomb off of his bat gave the Braves a 2-1 lead. After two quick outs of the Braves eighth place hitter (Heredia) and the pitcher (Fried), Acuña drew a walk to keep the inning alive. Following his walk, Ronald stole second base to get into scoring position. Freddie Freeman had an RBI single to score Acuña and extend the Braves lead to 3-1. And then… my man, Ozzie Albies, on the second pitch he saw, hit a monstrous two-run home run into the TOP of the Chop House extending the Braves lead to 5-1. That baseball went so far off of Ozzie’s bat… I didn’t know if it was ever gonna land!

Along with the second inning, the fourth inning was where the Braves scored the rest of their runs. Acuña was hit by a pitch, which was followed by a walk to Freeman. Ozzie came up and had an RBI single that scored Acuña. However, Ozzie wasn’t gonna be satisfied with just a single. Using his speed he stretched it into a double after review. That made the score 6-1. Abraham Almonte followed Ozzie’s single-double with an RBI single of his own to score Freeman and extend the Braves lead to 7-1. Austin Riley then scored Ozzie with a sac fly, making it 8-1. Dansby Swanson followed Riley with a single and then Contreras followed him with a walk to load the bases with Braves. Max Fried came up with two out and drew a 6-pitch, bases loaded walk to extend the Braves lead to 9-1; the final score.

This was a very good game for the Braves all around. Starting pitching, bullpen pitching, offensive and run scoring, good defense; it all clicked for the Atlanta Braves.

Game Three: Bryse Wilson vs. Adam Wainwright, Braves lost 9-1; game one of doubleheader

Bryse Wilson didn’t have that great of a start for Atlanta. He only went four innings, allowed eight hits and five runs. He didn’t give up a walk and he had four strikeouts, which was a good thing. In fact, that was probably the most encouraging thing of his start.

After the off day because of the rain, it was like the Braves lost their offensive momentum, and St. Louis took great advantage of it. They scored a total of nine runs. The Braves only scored one, and that was when the Braves had a double steal which allowed Freeman to score in the bottom of the fourth on a strikeout of Almonte.

Overall the biggest problem for Atlanta in this game, was pitching. That really has been the Braves’ main problem of this season. Bullpen pitching has gotten better, but it still needs work.

Game Four: Drew Smyly vs. Kwang Hyun Kim, Braves won 1-0; game two of doubleheader

What a game! It was close, suspenseful, and worthwhile because the Braves came out on top.

Drew Smyly pitched fantastic. He went 5.2 innings, gave up one hit, ZERO runs, three walks, and he had five strikeouts. He dominated over the Cardinals’ lineup, and it paid off.

The bullpen for Atlanta was great in this game. The bullpen only gave up one hit, and three walks. Other than that they were lights out. This win proves even more that when the Braves have good pitching, it doesn’t matter how many runs they score… as long as it’s more than the other team.

That ONE run that the Braves scored was in the bottom of the third. It was on a solo home run by Ronald Acuña Jr. He smoked that ball to straightaway center, and it gave the Atlanta Braves a 1-0 lead.

End the end, this series was good for the Braves. They had much better pitching, and some much awaited offense!