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.