The Atlanta Braves’ bullpen has surrendered two walks since you started reading this sentence.
It wasn’t just an off night for the bullpen, as starter Mike Foltynewicz struggled in his own right. He consistently went deep in counts, driving his pitch count up early. As has been the theme in recent starts, his strikeouts were offset by four walks. He was yanked after 4 ⅔ innings and 103 pitches.
Meanwhile, Reds starter Sal Romano put up another quality start for the Reds, going six innings, striking out five, and only walking one.
Romano retired the Braves in order in the first. Foltynewicz got into some hot water in the bottom of the frame, loading the bases with two outs, but striking out Tucker Barnhart to keep the Reds scoreless. Both pitchers were able to keep their opponents’ lines clean in the second.
A great at bat from Dansby Swanson led to a walk to lead off the Braves’ third. After consecutive strikeouts from Ryan Flaherty and Foltynewicz, Ender Inciarte dropped a bloop single into left that sent Swanson to third base. An errant throw from Adam Duvall allowed him to score on the play, giving the Braves a 1-0 lead. Folty kept the Reds off the board in the third, striking out Votto to close the inning.
Following a Freddie Freeman ground out in the second, Nick Markakis put a 3-2 Romano fastball over the fence in left center to stake the Braves to a two-run lead. The slumping Preston Tucker made a little noise with two outs in the inning, knocking a double into the right field corner, but was left standing on second. For the fourth straight inning, Folty kept the Reds scoreless in the bottom half.
After a scoreless top of the fifth, the Reds finally got to Folty in the home half of the inning. A questionable ball four call resulted in a one-out walk to Billy Hamilton, setting the stage for Scott Schebler. An obviously frustrated Foltynewicz hung a high heater to Schebler, who deposited it over the center field wall. It was the first home run the Reds had hit in seven games. Following a single to Votto, Sam Freeman came in to relieve Folty, and he struck out Scooter Gennett swinging.
Romano made a great play in the sixth, making a barehanded snag on an Ozzie Albies shot up the middle. After trainers examined his hand, he shut the heart of the Braves order down.
From there, the wheels completely fell off for the Braves bullpen. Sam Freeman came back out for the bottom of the sixth, and it got ugly from there. He walked Duvall to lead off the inning, then surrendered a single to Barnhart. The last batter he faced was Cliff Pennington, who drew another walk — this one to load the bases. Peter Moylan was summoned from the bullpen to put out the fire and promptly allowed a single to Jesse Winker, giving the Reds a 3-2 lead. Former Braves farmhand Jose Peraza poked one through the right side to plate another run. The reliever carousel turned yet again, which allowed Jesse Biddle to immediately walk Joey Votto with the bases loaded. Scooter Gennett scored two more on a bloop hit to left, then a groundout mercifully ended the bottom of the sixth.
By this point, the momentum had completely shifted in the Reds’ favor, and the Braves looked deflated (as you might expect). They fell victim to a seven pitch inning from Wandy Peralta. A couple of groundouts and a strikeout got Biddle out of the seventh.
The Braves put up two in the top of the eighth, pulling to within three. A Nick Markakis single plated Freeman and Inciarte. Raisel Iglesias got a Suzuki groundout to end the threat.
Miguel Socolovich had his own personal adventure in the bottom half of the inning, beginning with Billy Hamilton using his speed to manufacture an insurance run. He singled to center, stole second on a pitch out (!), and came around to score on a Schebler single. Socolovich then walked Peraza, and after retiring Votto and Gennett, Duvall smacked a double down the left field line to bring the score to 10-4.
A meek showing by the Braves in the ninth allowed this one to end. The Braves are now responsible for ¼ of the Reds wins for the season.
These two teams will square off again tomorrow. In the meantime, if you know anyone who can throw strikes, please put them in touch with Alex Anthopoulos.