The Braves got another ugly outing from one of their starters, this time Robbie Erlin, but managed to fight back late in this contest. Atlanta tied the game in the seventh inning and kept the game tied into extra innings, which brought about all the weirdness that we have come to expect this season. Bad calls, stranded runners, and poor execution set the stage for Scott Kingery to blast a two-out, two-strike home run to give the Phillies the 7-4 victory.
Placing faith in the left arm of Robbie Erlin once gain proved fruitless for the Braves as the veteran allowed four runs in four innings, including a pair of home runs. Luckily the Atlanta bullpen was well-rested and performed well to halt the Phillies offense until the 11th inning. Shane Greene was especially impressive as he worked the ninth and tenth innings, pitching out of a bases-loaded jam that seemed insurmountable in the tenth. Of course extra innings begin with an offensive rally already in motion this season, but Greene remained composed and even escaped a full count with two outs and the winning run on third for Philadelphia.
The Braves’ luck ran out in the 11th inning unfortunately, as Mark Melancon was tagged for a walk-off homer by Kingery. The biggest bummer being that Melancon had gotten ahead of Kingery with an 0-2 count and two outs. He seemed destined to escape the jam, but made a mistake with a belt-high fastball to Kingery and paid for it.
The high points of the game for Atlanta came in the seventh inning, when Ender Inciarte shockingly blasted a home run to right field after replacing Adam Duvall to pull the Braves within a run. Austin Riley followed with another homer, giving Atlanta back-to-back homers and a tie game. Riley continues to gain confidence and nearly hit a second homer in the top of the 11th inning, though it died at the warning track in left center. Riley also made an incredible, game-saving play in the tenth inning to cut down the winning run at the plate.
For all the opportunities that eluded the Braves in extra innings, this game was certainly not boring. Braves fans got to experience some form of manic rage in the 11th inning as Ender Inciarte very clearly stole second base, but was called out both in real-time and after a review from the replay center. The strike zone was also an adventure all evening, but the Braves were not without opportunities despite the inabilities of the umpiring crew.
The Braves will aim to even the series on Saturday, but this game will certainly be a source of frustration for the coaches and players. Runners left on base, especially third base with less than two outs, continue to be an issue at inopportune times. Having the go-ahead run 90 feet away with a chance to take the lead will hurt but the Braves have been playing well of late and can certainly turn the series around. Atlanta will turn to Josh Tomlin for game two on Saturday.