After two games where seemingly everything conspired to force the Braves into the “L” column, the Braves encountered little resistance in a 6-0, sweep-avoiding win at Wrigley Field. Travis d’Arnaud hit a three-run homer in the first, Ian Anderson had a delightfully-solid start, and the Braves were able to undo most of the damage that happened in the standings yesterday with the victory.
A lack of run-scoring longballs plagued the Braves on Friday and Saturday, but that all changed in a hurry on Sunday afternoon against Kyle Hendricks. A fly ball that found grass in right center and a walk set up the big blow of the game, courtesy of Travis d’Arnaud:
Travis d'Arnaud crushes one out of the park! Braves lead the Cubs 3-0 pic.twitter.com/AYHh2YLACE— Atlanta Braves Radio Network (@BravesRadioNet) June 19, 2022
d’Arnaud had a chance to add to his tally in the third with two on once more, but struck out to end that frame. No matter, though. Michael Harris II led off the fifth with an opposite-field homer, and then the trio of Dansby Swanson, Austin Riley, and Matt Olson hit doubles later in the inning to cap the scoring. Olson’s double chased Hendricks, who ended up allowing six runs in 4 1⁄3 innings, including two homers. He did notch a 6/1 K/BB ratio, but the Braves were able to pile on the runs anyway.
That was literally all the scoring in the game, as Adrian Sampson came on in relief of Hendricks and utterly flummoxed the Atlanta bats. Sampson threw 4 2⁄3 of one-hit, zero-walk, five-strikeout ball, which would have been a lot more brutal were the Braves not already cruising by the time he came in.
And cruising they were, thanks to Ian Anderson reaching into his toque and pulling out one of his better starts of the year. Anderson ended up going 6 2⁄3 scoreless with a 6/2 K/BB ratio, the first start in which he didn’t yield at least a run this year. It was his third-best start of the season by both FIP and xFIP, featuring six strikeouts, two walks, and a hit-by-pitch. Anderson faced the minimum (thanks to a pickoff and a nifty double play) through three, and didn’t allow a runner to reach second until the sixth, when the first two reached against him. However, he was able to get out of the pseudo-jam with groundout-flyout-groundout. That earned him a shot at another frame, but he was pulled after hitting a batter with two out, none on in the seventh.
Jesse Chavez relieved Anderson, gave up a single, and then got out of the inning. He struck out the first two in the eighth, but was chased by single-walk-single, prompting an A.J. Minter appearance. Minter, whose leadoff walk and eventual sac fly allowed doomed the Braves on Friday, got Patrick Wisdom to fly out to give him a three-pitch appearance on the afternoon. Kenley Jansen worked a seven-pitch ninth in which he threw seven strikes to end the game.
Each of Swanson, Riley, and Olson had multi-hit games, with Olson going 3-for-3 with three doubles and a walk. That walk was the only one earned by the Braves in the game. Phil Gosselin went 0-for-4 in his first start in a Braves uniform in over seven years. Braves pitching held the Cubs mostly hapless, except for, amusingly, Ian Happ, who went 2-for-3 with a walk and was the only Northsider to reach base more than once.
The Phillies, Giants, Cardinals, and Mets all lost today, while the Padres are losing big in Denver. The Brewers have won already, and the Dodgers hold a one-run lead. That makes this a pretty good day for the Braves, who will return home to face off the Giants in a very playoff-relevant matchup on Monday night.