The Atlanta Braves have had a lot of different heroes emerge throughout their postseason run to the World Series. Kyle Wright added his name to the list in Game 4 Saturday night with a clutch pitching performance that kept Atlanta within striking distance.
“It was awesome,” Snitker said when asked about Wright’s performance. “The situation we put him in was probably something we didn’t want to do, honestly, but how he limited damage. His stuff was so good tonight too. Kyle is the reason we won the game, how he kept that thing in check and allowed us to stay around in that game. That was huge.”
Wright entered the game in the first inning after opener Dylan Lee loaded the bases with just one out. He got Carlos Correa to ground out softly to Austin Riley at third. Jose Altuve scored on the play to give the Astros an early lead. Wright then struck out Kyle Tucker to strand runners at second and third.
Wright allowed back-to-back singles to pitcher Zack Greinke and Martin Maldonado in the second but worked his way out of it, retiring Altuve lined out to third on a diving stop by Riley and Michael Brantley on a ground out.
The Astros threatened again in the third but worked out of it, getting Greinke to ground out to escape a bases loaded jam. He allowed a solo home run to Altuve in the fourth that made it 2-0 and then escaped another jam in the fifth leaving runners at the corners as Marwin Gonzalez flew out harmlessly to left.
Wright pitched himself into and out of trouble on multiple occasions. However, he showed poise and confidence that has often been missing in his brief time at the major league level. Wright has shown flashes in the past such as his six-inning scoreless performance in Game 3 of the NLDS last season. Yet every step forward seemed to be met with two steps back. Whether or not Wright can build off of his Game 4 performance remains to be seen, but for at least one night, he came up big when the team desperately needed him.
“I feel like I just try to do my part. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs this year,” Wright said of his contribution. “Just to be able to get back in a position where I could help the team was definitely pretty special. My goal was just to get it to the back end, and those guys have been nails all year. Fortunately, I was able to do that, and they shut it down from there.”
“He’s been through a lot in a young career, and we’ve created a lot of it, quite honestly, I think,” Snitker said of Wright. “I thought the best thing was for him to stay in Triple-A all year in mass innings and pitch and be successful.”
Wright was shuttled back and forth between the majors and Gwinnett over the last three seasons and never was able to carve out a role. He spent virtually all of the 2021 season at Triple-A where he put up good numbers and finished strong.
“The greatest things these guys can have is experience, I don’t care where it is, especially as a pitcher,” Snitker added. “I think we asked a lot of him in his young career, and I love the fact he got to stay down there all year, and he put together a really good year. For me, tonight, I saw that. It was a more mature pitcher because he’d experienced more. I went back and looked at some of the at-bats on that thing we got, and his stuff was good. It was live. What he did coming in in that situation, limiting damage, and getting us to where he did in that game was huge.”
“Honestly, it sucks being down there, but I completely agree,” Wright said of spending the season at Triple-A. “I kind of hit the reset button a little bit. I was struggling a lot this year and was kind of, honestly, a little lost. I kind of went back and watched a bunch of old video to see where I was at when I was pitching well. I basically found where I needed to be and worked pretty strict on those mechanical changes, and I feel like it’s put me in a much better position now to be more consistent. I feel like my stuff’s been better, and everything has all around been better.”
Wright finished the season strong allowing a combined 18 runs over his final 11 starts. The Braves have been waiting for him to take a step forward for a while now. Perhaps this is that moment. For now, he says the focus is on finishing the job and going out and bringing another championship to Atlanta.
“We’re definitely feeling pretty good. We’re in a good spot. We know there’s a really good team on the other side,” Wright said. “So job’s not done, and they’re not going to go away easy. We’re going to have to continue to compete and scratch and claw to try to finish this thing off.”