After a tough loss in Game 3 of the NLDS, the Atlanta Braves will have to pick up the pieces quickly before facing a must-win situation Saturday. Atlanta rolled the dice going with Spencer Strider who was electric early before seeing a significant velocity drop during the third inning while the Phillies put up six runs.
“We wanted him to go four originally and then I thought if he could get out of that third then that’s going to be it, but it didn’t happen,” Snitker said of the plan coming in for Strider.
Snitker said that Strider felt fine physically when he exited the game and wasn’t aware that the velocity on his fastball had dipped.
“He even said he didn’t know why he was asked, we asked him on that velocity,” Snitker said. “He said, no, I thought I threw it really good, didn’t get there. So he felt good. In hindsight, he was so good the first two that.”
While Strider’s struggles put the Braves in an early hole, the offense again came up short against Aaron Nola. Atlanta managed just six hits, left eight men on base and was 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
“You hope you hit a stride this time of year,” Snitker said of the offensive struggles. “It’s baseball, you just never know when it’s going to happen. When you’re facing the likes of Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola, that’s got a lot to do with it. You just never know when you’re going to hit one of those ruts. You hope it’s not now, but, you know what, we’ve got a game tomorrow to come out and change it and make something good happen.”
Austin Riley was hitless in the loss Friday night and is 1-for-12 in the series. Dansby Swanson was 1-for-4 in Game 3 but is just 2-for-12. Marcell Ozuna continues to see at-bats, but is 0-for-8 with four strikeouts. As inconsistent as the starting pitching has been for Atlanta, the offense needs to be much better if the Braves are going to comeback in this series.
“We’ve got to win one in a row right now is what we’ve got to do and we’ve got the perfect guy out there to do it,” Snitker said. “Charlie’s been in these situations many times and we need to start scoring some runs also. Regardless of all that, we haven’t been able to mount any significant offense, though, regardless. We need to score some more.”
The Braves began the 2021 postseason as a decided underdog, but throughout their entire run to a World Series title, they never faced an elimination game. They will have to win two straight if they are going to return to the NLCS for the third straight season.
“We’ve been in these games before,” Snitker said. “A lot of these guys have, but you’re right, we didn’t face one last year. We’ve got to go out and win one in a row is what we have to do.”
“I trust these guys because we’ve been in tough spots before over the last few years and so they’re going to come out and lay it out there to win one more game,” Snitker said.
If there is any positive takeaway in this game, it is that despite Strider exiting in the third, the Braves only had to use three relievers. Dylan Lee, Jake Odorizzi and Jesse Chavez combined to throw the final 5 2⁄3 innings and saved most of Atlanta’s key relievers for Saturday’s do or die game.
“That’s great because in order to win this series we’ll have to rely on the bulk of that bullpen for two games in a row,” Snitker said of Odorizzi. “It was huge what he covered.”
“I mean, you hate to lose, but it wasn’t a costly loss because our bullpen’s still in pretty good shape,” Snitker added. “We’ve got guys that can pitch back-to-back days, our main guys and you go through those tough losses in a season where you expend a lot of energy and lose and then it takes you two or three days to recover. This kind of game got away from us in a hurry and it’s tough but we still have a good bullpen for tomorrow.