For five innings on Wednesday afternoon, things were going quite well for Lucas Harrell and the Atlanta Braves. In a hurry, though, that positive mojo disappeared and the Braves never recovered in what would become a 6-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.
Harrell navigated the first five innings without allowing a single run, and the veteran right-hander was able to be successful despite a lack of pinpoint command on this day. In support of Harrell’s efforts, Freddie Freeman opened the game with a first-inning home run that would give Atlanta a 1-0 lead, and after a 1-for-19 start to the second half of the 2016 season, that was a welcome sight from the team’s top slugger.
Following that Freeman blast, there was little action for several innings, but the Braves added cushion to the lead with a run in the fifth inning. Erick Aybar (yes, Erick Aybar) opened the frame with a lead-off double, and he was later brought to the plate on a soft single from the bat of Chase d’Arnaud. With a 2-0 lead and Harrell seemingly cruising, there was plenty of optimism for a series win.
On cue, the wheels came off for Harrell in the bottom of the sixth. Jay Bruce and Eugenio Suarez began the inning with back-to-back singles, and after Harrell was able to retire Brandon Phillips, old pal Jose Peraza strolled to the plate. The infielder guided a single to center field, and despite the best efforts from Ender Inciarte (who unleashed a perfect throw to home plate), the Reds were able to add two runs as a result of the base hit.
That knotted the game at 2-2, but the score would not be tied for long. The next batter, Cincinnati catcher Tucker Barnhart, deposited an offering from Harrell over the right field fence, and in the blink of an eye, the Reds took a 4-2 lead that they would never relinquish.
For good measure, the Reds also did not stop the scoring barrage there. Joey Votto (who happens to be pretty good at baseball) blasted a two-run home run against Ian Krol in the seventh inning to make open a four-run margin, and while that would be the extent of the damage, it was more than enough.
Adonis Garcia did add a solo home run in the ninth inning to bring the scoreboard to the final margin of 6-3, but that single swing was all Atlanta could muster in terms of a threat within the final four frames. It was a positive day for Freeman and Garcia, given the nature of their blasts, but aside from that, only Jace Peterson managed multiple hits and Eric O’Flaherty’s scoreless eighth inning was the most encouraging development on the mound.
The Braves will not have the benefit of a rest day before the team’s next series, as Atlanta must travel to Denver to take on the Colorado Rockies beginning on Thursday evening. Stay tuned for coverage of that series and everything associated with the Atlanta Braves.