The Braves won a thriller on Monday night, 7-6,
After falling into a 6-3 hole going into the ninth inning, the Braves strung together four runs to stun the Washington Nationals. Dansby Swanson’s walk-off dinger capped it.
For as thrilling as the ninth inning was, the first eight and a half innings were equally frustrating, as yet another starting pitching outing was cut short. Tonight’s contestant was Touki Toussaint, who has struggled to locate the strike zone for the majority of his last two outings. Tonight, he made it through three innings, facing one batter in the fourth, walking six and allowing four runs to cross the plate.
It’s easy to blame an umpire when things go wrong, but home plate umpire Chad Whiston’s strike zone was inconsistent all night (but especially in the early going), often varying from pitch to pitch, and caused some undue baserunners that worked in the Nationals’ favor. After being squeezed on no less than four pitches during at-bats to Juan Soto and Kurt Suzuki, Touki’s confidence looked shaken and he found himself in hot water early.
Following the questionable walk to Suzuki, Nationals prospect Luis Garcia hit his first big league home run into the grass in front of the Chop House. What a cool moment for him, but not so much for the Braves, who found themselves down 2-0. Following a Carter Kieboom strikeout, Eric Thames parked a fastball in the Braves’ bullpen to tack on another run.
The Braves got two runs back in the second. After Marcell Ozuna walked, Nick Markakis laced a double down the right field line to cut the lead to 3-1. Austin Riley broke an 0-for-12 slump with a screaming RBI single up the middle to bring Markakis home, making it 3-2.
Touki needed a shutdown inning in the third, but that was when he completely lost the zone. After hitting Trea Turner (who immediately stole second), Touki issued three straight walks, and the Nats looked like they were about to bust through when Austin Riley pulled this web gem and prevented any further damage.
Austin Riley unassisted double play gets Touki Toussaint out of bases loaded jam. pic.twitter.com/ba0Hshbpbu— handlit33 (@handlit33) August 18, 2020
The Braves strung together three straight singles to start the third inning to bring the score to 4-3, and even loaded the bases with one out, but were unable to keep the rally moving.
Touki was given the chance to keep going in the fourth, but after instantly walking Kieboom, he got the hook in favor of Grant Dayton. Dayton followed Touki’s theme of playing with fire, walking a batter of his own and allowing an infield single, and missed giving up a grand slam to Juan Soto by about two feet. He would eventually surrender a solo home run to Asdrubal Cabrera before his 1 ⅔ innings were complete.
Huascar Ynoa, who relieved Dayton in the fifth, was the pitching MVP of this game for the Braves. He went three scoreless innings, striking out four and only allowing two hits. His role with this team appears to be flexible, but his comfort level appears highest as a multi-inning reliever.
The Braves’ most devastating missed opportunity of the night came in the seventh inning. Travis d’Arnaud walked to lead off the inning, then Nick Markakis doubled him over to third. After a walk to Adam Duvall to load the bases, Johan Camargo and pinch hitter Matt Adams, fresh off the IL, both struck out.
The seventh and eighth innings were a tease, as the Braves left five baserunners aboard. It looked like the Braves were dead for good.
The Nationals took a 6-3 lead in the ninth on a long Juan Soto home run.
In the ninth inning, the Braves turned on the magic. After Markakis was hit by a pitch, Adam Duvall laced a home run to left field, pulling the gap to 6-5. Camargo finally got on the board with a single to right center, and Dansby Swanson took Daniel Hudson deep to center in thrilling fashion. After what seemed like a surefire loss for eight and a half innings, the Braves emerged victorious, 7-6.
The first of 10 bouts between the Braves and Nationals was a blast... Dansby Swanson gives Atlanta its fifth final-at-bat win of 2020, with a 416-foot walk-off HR. pic.twitter.com/nUlgKqLyR7— Daniel Kramer (@DKramer_) August 18, 2020
These two teams will meet again tomorrow night, with first pitch slated for 7:10pm ET.