The Atlanta Braves overcame plenty of adversity this season so it is unlikely that Tuesday’s Game 3 result will have too much of an affect on their mindset for the rest of the series. Still, it is hard to come away from Tuesday’s 6-5 loss without feeling like it was a giant missed opportunity.
There were plenty of ups and downs starting with Charlie Morton who came close to not making it out of the first inning. Morton walked Mookie Betts to lead off the game and then surrendered a two-run home run to Corey Seager. He then walked the bases loaded but was able to get Chris Taylor to pop out to end the inning and minimize the damage.
“I thought it was outstanding the fact that what he went through in the first inning to get through five innings,” Brian Snitker said of Morton’s outing. “That was huge for us. He kind of seemed to, I don’t know, kind of got a second wind, so to speak, and then threw the ball extremely well.”
“It was a rough first inning and he was probably a hit or two away from not even getting through that and then to give us five I thought was outstanding.”
Morton needed 34 pitches to navigate the first inning. He allowed three hits and a career-high six walks but struck out five and didn’t allow any more runs after the first inning. He threw 96 pitches with 55 going for strikes.
“I think it was just my changeup and my cutter was there,” Morton said of his outing. “I think my curveball was fine. Aside from the home run, I think I threw some pretty good breaking balls. It was just that four-seamer just wasn’t, the command wasn’t there early, but fortunately the other pitches were. They were there enough. I think it was just kind of like trying to figure some things out to get more on line and then at least throw pitches in the zone and challenge some guys.”
With a bullpen game on tap for Game 4, an early exit could have been devastating for Atlanta. The end result wasn’t what they wanted, but an early exit by Morton would have likely caused serious issues for Game 4.
Brian Snitker confirmed that the Braves will go with a bullpen game for Game 4 but did not announce who would start.
“No, not yet. We’ll talk about that when I leave here probably,” Snitker answered when asked about his Game 4 starter.
Atlanta had to lean on its bullpen heavily in Game 2 after Ian Anderson’s early exit. They had an off day Monday but had to use four more relievers in Game 3. Tyler Matzek and Luke Jackson have appeared in all seven games this postseason.
“These guys are all going to be tired,” Snitker said of his bullpen. “When the season’s going to be over these guys are going to be hanging. There’s no doubt about it. They got all winter to rest, and I think they’re all going to be fine. There might be a couple guys we want to stay away from, I don’t know. But we got to do what we got to do right now.”
As far as who might start, Huascar Ynoa hasn’t pitched in the NLCS and Drew Smyly has yet to pitch in the postseason. Neither Chris Martin or Jacob Webb pitched in Game 3 and would be available. A.J. Minter tossed a scoreless inning in Game 3 and could be an option as well. Jesse Chavez retired two batters and allowed the go-ahead run to score on Betts’ double in Game 3, but he was warming up multiple times throughout the game.
“We’ll look at the game today and the guys we used and then pair that up with guys we haven’t used,” Snitker added. “We have good options. We have some really good options to start the game for a couple innings or something, and then a lot of guys that are good to go, that are ready to pitch tomorrow. So we’re just going to figure out how we’re going to line it up.”
As painful as the Game 3 loss was, Snitker doesn’t think that his team will have any trouble bouncing back.
“No, they will be fine. They will come out. They will be ready to play,” Snitker said. “They’re going to prepare as always. We have lost tough games before and bounced back and done really good things. So this is just one of them games that it’s like it’s, you got to get 27 outs, man. And like I said earlier, you got to make pitches and plays and the whole thing and it just didn’t happen today.
“We feel good. We’re confident. Every year our guys are getting more and more battle-tested and we played a really good game out there today,” Snitker added. “A lot of really good things happened and we didn’t get one pitch back. I think the guys have a lot of confidence in themselves and they will get a good night’s sleep and have a nice dinner and be ready to go tomorrow and there’s going to be no residual effects after this game here, like there never has been with this group.”