The Philadelphia Phillies knew their season was slipping away, and that each loss going forward was significant. As a result, their bats were ready to rumble tonight, and the Braves simply did not have an answer for the Philadelphia bats in a 9-5 loss Thursday night.
3️⃣5️⃣ and 3️⃣6️⃣ pic.twitter.com/cP5XP6EGow— FOX Sports: Braves (@FOXSportsBraves) September 13, 2019
The evening got off to a roaring start, as Ronald Acuna Jr. singled and then stole his 35th and 36th bases of the year. That put him in scoring position for Ozzie Albies, who decided to remove all doubt that Acuna Jr. would score with his 22nd home run of the year. The steals moved Acuna Jr. within four steals of the magical number 40 on the season, while Albies became just the 11th player in baseball history to record 20 home runs and 40 doubles in each of his first two full seasons.
Julio Teheran would take the mound with an early 2-0 lead, but unlike much of this season, Teheran would struggle more than succeed. A Cesar Hernandez solo home run in the first, an Adam Haseley two run home run in the second, and a Jean Segura two run shot in the third quickly made the score 5-2 in favor of the Phillies. While Teheran has been excellent this season, he certainly was without his best stuff tonight.
The Braves, as they are now known to do, quickly answered. Adam Duvall laced a shot into the seats with a two run home run of his his own to make the score 5-4. The Braves and Phillies would go quietly until the bottom of the sixth, when Hernandez struck again with an RBI single that resulted in Brian McCann trying to tag the Ghost of Christmas “He Aint There” instead of Maikel Franco. The Phillies would make the lead 6-4 after six innings.
The Braves were ready to answer the bell again, as Ronald Acuna Jr. connected with his 39th home run of the year. Now four steals and one home run short of his 40-40 target, it seems at this point that it would be more of a disappointment than not if he did not reach it. After the Phillies went scoreless in the bottom of the seventh, the Braves threatened again in the top of the eighth. However, Dansby Swanson lined out hard to Sean Rodriguez to end the threat.
The Phillies made sure all doubt was removed in the bottom of eighth, as they scored three runs off Anthony Swarzak. The Braves went quietly in the top of the ninth, settling for a series split on their last visit to Philadelphia in 2019.
The game obviously had its excitement, with Acuna Jr. apparently rounding back into form and Ozzie Albies continuing to produce. However, there are a few concerns that emerged that should continue to be monitored. Teheran only went four innings, allowing five runs off three home runs. As great as he has been, this start could not have come at a worse time for his postseason role. Along with Teheran’s role, the Braves have done an excellent job getting Shane Greene, Chris Martin, and Mark Melancon rest in recent days. However, while the hope was that by using other relievers the Braves would have another potential postseason option or two emerge, it only seems that the Braves have further validated that just those three relievers, and Luke Jackson, can be trusted at the moment.
While there is still time for the bullpen situation to work itself out, an even more needed development is the return of a productive Dansby Swanson. Swanson has produced a .486 OPS in September, and while his defense has certainly been welcomed back, his bat seems to still be on hiatus. The Braves offense was at its best when Swanson was producing. They need him to become a consistent contributor once again to deepen the lineup for the postseason.
Losses happen, but the recent success of the Braves makes it easier to forget and move on. With a chance to further make things certain in the division with a trip to Washington, Atlanta must quickly find its groove for what will be an exciting weekend.