The Atlanta Braves entered Thursday afternoon with the opportunity to steal a series victory against the San Diego Padres. For four innings, that goal appeared attainable but, with a collapse in the fifth and sixth frames, optimism faded with haste, and the end result was an 11-2 defeat.
The early returns for Mike Foltynewicz were positive, as he allowed only a hit-by-pitch in the first two innings. From there, however, Ian Kinsler broke the seal with a solo home run in the third frame and that was just the beginning.
Foltynewicz’s slider wasn’t crisp and he failed to generate much in the way of deception, even before a noticeable drop in velocity by the fifth frame. In that fateful inning, Kinsler produced an RBI double to give the Padres a 2-0 lead and, from there, three additional singles were paired with a throwing error by Foltynewicz. When the dust settled on the inning, the Braves were in a 6-0 hole that they would not emerge from in this contest.
The sixth inning truly broke the dam, however, with Shane Carle struggling mightily. The right-handed reliever was bludgeoned to the tune of six hits and five runs in the inning, leaving the mound with the home team trailing by the comical score of 11-0.
Atlanta did produce a bit offense in the sixth, with four consecutive singles at the outset. The last of the quartet was a two-run single from Nick Markakis to bring the Braves within nine runs (insert laughter here) but that was the end of the threat.
If searching for bright spots, the rest of the bullpen (Grant Dayton, Jerry Blevins and Luke Jackson) performed well in three scoreless innings before the ball was handed to Charlie Culberson (!!!) in mop-up duty for the top of the ninth. The utility man loaded the bases but, in one of the few enjoyable moments of the day, Culberson escaped without further damage to the scoreboard while throwing some legitimate heat. He also collected his first career strikeout as a pitcher.
Foltynewicz finished 4.2 innings allowing eight runs (six earned) and generating only three strikeouts. Offensively, there weren’t many heroes either, with only Culberson, Freddie Freeman and Johan Camargo reaching base on multiple occasions, and the lone run-producing effort from Markakis in the sixth.
The Braves will return to action on Friday night in Miami, with Kevin Gausman taking the mound for Atlanta against the always beloved Jose Ureña. Stay tuned.