Many more times than not, if the Braves have had an obvious goal in their sights, they have achieved it without issue.
Unfortunately, over the past few days, both individually and as a team, that trend has halted a bit. Like Ronald Acuna Jr.’s quest for a 40-40 season, the Braves as a team unfortunately will not reach 100 wins. Despite some early success, the Braves lost to the Mets Friday night, 4-2.
The Braves wasted little time getting their offense going, as Dansby Swanson, Ozzie Albies, Josh Donaldson, and Nick Markakis all singled to push two runs across the plate. The early success was an encouraging sign against a talented pitcher such as Marcus Stroman. It also was a reminder of the depth of the Braves lineup when near complete health.
The Mets quickly answered the Braves hot start with a familiar sight of their own. Pete Alonso crushed a Dallas Keuchel fastball into the left field seats for his 52nd home run of the year, tying the MLB rookie record set by Aaron Judge. Hopefully, Alonso has experienced his last home run trot of the year.
Both Stroman and Keuchel made it through the second inning without issue. However, in the bottom of the third, Amed Rosario tied the game with an RBI single. After the Braves missed out on a scoring opportunity in the top of the fourth, the Mets made sure to take advantage of theirs. With Brandon Nimmo on base, J.D. Davis distributed a ball into the outfield seats for his 21st home run of the season. This made the score 4-2 in favor of the Mets.
Dallas Keuchel would make it through the fifth without further damage, but his final line for the night was less than ideal. Over five innings, Keuchel allowed seven hits, four walks, and two home runs. The result was four earned runs in five innings. While Keuchel has been excellent overall over the past two months, the Braves have to hope that he does not struggle next week like he has in two of his last three starts.
The Braves had their chances, as after the first inning, Atlanta was 0-7 with runners in scoring position for the rest of the game. The Braves created their chances, but were unable to take advantage of them. Atlanta’s offense certainly has the potential to be one of the best in the postseason, but they have struggled at times with runners in scoring position. With the caliber of pitching that they will face in the playoffs, Atlanta must be ready to take advantage of opportunities as they happen.
Despite Keuchel and the offensive struggles, there were a few key positives. Both Dansby Swanson and Josh Donaldson had multiple hits for the second straight game. This hopefully confirms both players are starting to find their grooves again. Their success will make Atlanta’s lineup significantly deeper, improving the chances that Atlanta can score more frequently. Atlanta’s bullpen also had a good night, as they allowed only two hits over three scoreless innings.
While a good start from Keuchel would have been great, the night offered some encouraging signs. Hopefully, the Braves can have a few good nights of offense to end the regular season on a high note this weekend.