Friday night began with instant action for Braves starter Matt Wisler, who gave up a leadoff home run to Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler to continue the 24-year old’s first-inning struggles. Cameron Maybin followed with a single, then Miguel Cabrera hit a home run of his own to push the Tiger lead to 3-0 after three batters. Wisler struggled with location from the opening pitch, and the Tigers took advantage, pounding out nine hits and chasing the right-hander after just 4.2 innings.
Detroit starter Daniel Norris was excellent in this game, striking out eight Braves while allowing just one run in 6.2 innings. Norris consistently located his fastball well, keeping the red-hot Braves lineup off-balance to suppress any hope of a comeback for the home team. Norris, as mentioned above, was the beneficiary of some early run support and pitched aggressively as a result, turning in one of his best outings of the season. The Tigers continued to pile on as Cabrera homered again in the third, his 38th of the year, and Justin Upton homered in the seventh to push the Detroit lead to 6-0.
The Braves would get on the board in the bottom of the seventh, as pinch-hitter Brandon Snyder homered with two outs to spoil the shutout and chase Norris from the game. Matt Kemp would homer an inning later to cut the lead to 6-2, giving the Braves left fielder 35 home runs on the season. The Braves would not reach base again as Francisco Rodriguez entered in the ninth and promptly struck out the side to end the game.
Starts like this have to be frustrating for the Braves with regards to Matt Wisler, as the right-hander has incrementally made strides this season that would seem to suggest a breakthrough, yet he was once again bitten by the home run ball on Friday. The lack of fastball command by Wisler is concerning, primarily because he relies so heavily on his ability to induce ground balls. This start will certainly not ease John Coppolella’s mind with regards to adding starting pitching this offseason, as the Braves will be hard-pressed to count on Wisler for an opening day rotation spot next spring.
The Braves will send another rookie to the mound on Saturday as Aaron Blair looks to finish on a high-note to cap off an up-and-down campaign in 2016. Former National Jordan Zimmermann will take the ball for Detroit, looking to build upon a 7-3 career mark against the Braves.