Spencer Strider’s six strong innings of work and home runs from Michael Harris II and Matt Olson helped to propel the Braves to a 6-3 victory over the Phillies tonight. The win helped the Braves once again avoid a three-game losing streak while also giving Brian Snitker a wonderful managerial milestone.
Any notions that tonight would be a difficult and prolonged struggle for the Braves against Aaron Nola were dispelled right away. Dansby Swanson picked up the first hit of the game by hitting a single with one out and then with two outs against him, Austin Riley continued to swing his scorching bat as he hit yet another double off of the wall in left-center to put the Braves ahead of the Phillies early on.
It didn’t take too long for Atlanta to add on, either. While the Braves did go down 1-2-3 in the second inning, things were not as quiet for the next three innings. Atlanta scored in each of the following three innings and the scoring run started with Michael Harris II leading off the third inning by taking a hanger from Nola and hitting it into the seats in right field to make it 2-0 in favor of the road team.
The leadoff punishment continued into the next frame, as Austin Riley proved that he is physically unable to go too long without a big hit as he smacked his second double of the game to start the fourth inning. Eddie Rosario had an interesting time on the base paths, as he made it onto first base with an RBI single to cash in Riley’s double. This was followed by Rosario stealing second and then taking third on the play after J.T. Realmuto satisfied the 2022 Phillies’ requirement for at least one wacky defensive miscue a game by throwing the ball into center field on Rosario’s attempt.
While the following two Braves were unable to bring Rosario home, Atlanta still had one more inning of pain left to dole out to the Phillies. While the first two batters of the frame went down in order, Dansby Swanson kept it going with a double of his own. Matt Olson was then tasked with making it three runs in three innings with an RBI here. Instead, Olson decided that two runs were much better than one as he proceeded to crush one to the seats near the bullpen in right-center field to put the Braves up 5-0 at that point.
While the Braves were busy having a good time at the plate against Aaron Nola, Spencer Strider was busy shutting down Philadelphia’s lineup. Strider didn’t give up a hit until the third inning and only ended up surrendering three hits and one walk on the night. While he still didn’t rack up the copious amount of strikeouts that we’ve grown used to seeing (imagine an “off-night” being six strikeouts!), his stuff was still enough to have the Phillies looking very uncomfortable at the plate. While Kyle Schwarber did eventually crush a dinger to get the Phillies on the board and spoil Strider’s shutout bid, this was still a pretty great night on the mound for Strider and exactly what he needed at this particular moment.
From that point forward, it was all about simply bringing the win on home during the latter stages of the game. Collin McHugh pitched two great innings to keep the good times going for the Braves on the mound in this one. Michael Harris returned to the RBI column in the ninth inning in order to end things for the Braves at the plate on a high note. Eddie Rosario led off the ninth with his second hit of the night and then Harris knocked him in from second base with a double that made it 6-1.
With a five-run cushion, it felt like a safe time to turn to Will Smith to finish off the game. Since this is Will Smith we are talking about, five runs still ended up being an uncomfortable situation for the embattled reliever. Smith gave up a leadoff single and then J.T. Realmuto sent a slider flying over the left field wall to make it a 6-3 game. Following a one-out walk, Smith was taken out of the game and Kenley Jansen was called upon to get the final two outs of the game. Following a marathon at-bat against Bryson Stott that finally ended in a harmless pop-out to center field, Jansen was able to get Alec Bohm to ground out and finally end the game with the score being 6-3.
With the win tonight, the Braves are now going to go at least 100 games this season without losing three straight at any point. The ability to avoid being down for too long has helped push the Braves to a position where they’re pretty comfortably entrenched in the Postseason conversation and also fighting with New York’s NL representative for the divisional lead.
It’s also a microcosm of Brian Snitker’s time as manager of the Braves, which perfectly encapsulates and partly explains why Snitker has been able to rack up 500 career wins in a relatively short period of time. Atlanta’s now got a shot at winning the series tomorrow afternoon before coming back home this weekend and here’s hoping Charlie Morton can pick up where Spencer Strider left off this evening.