With Spencer Strider, the Moustachio’d Menace on the mound, the Braves had an opportunity to sweep the Cardinals in a four game series.
Strider started off hot, striking out the first two batters before a Goldschmidt pop fly was allowed to fall for a double due to some lackluster defense. Strider walked the next batter before striking out the final batter to end the inning scoreless. Walks from Dansby and Austin presented a threat in the bottom first, but the Braves were unable to land an RBI hit. Strider struck out the side in a quick perfect second, making it six strikeouts through two innings. Adam Duvall hit an opposite field line drive double with one out in his return to the starting lineup after being hit by a pitch in the hand, but again it didn’t develop into a run. The Moustachio’d Menace allowed a ground ball single with two outs in the third, but again recorded three strikeouts in a scoreless inning.
A Matt Olson two out 110 MPH single was the only Braves baserunner of the third. Strider did not strike out the side in the fourth, which was honestly kind of surprising at that point, but he settled for a mile high infield pop out, a fly out, and a lineout for a scoreless inning, working around a walk. A d’Arnaud walk and an Ozuna double to start out the Atlanta fourth created the most dangerous situation of the game for either team to that point. Unfortunately a horrendous strikeout from Adam Duvall and groundouts from Arcia and Harris extinguished that threat. Strider had a neat and tidy 1-2-3 fifth with a strikeout to keep St. Louis scoreless.
The Cardinals brought in their own flamethrower for the fifth in Jordan Hicks, and he shut things down, keeping the score 0-0. Strider ended his outing with a flourish, striking out two more Cardinals in another 1-2-3 inning. What a masterful performance from Strider, with 6.0 scoreless innings and 12 strikeouts, good for a -0.07 FIP. Hicks was back out for the bottom of the sixth and hit 104 MPH on the radar gun on his way to another scoreless inning. In what had been a superbly pitched game so far for Atlanta, Will Smith came in for the seventh and immediately gave up a run on a double, single, and sac fly. He did keep the damage to only one and Michael Harris absolutely launched a homer to dead center to bring the score back level, leading off the bottom of the frame.
Harris would be the only baserunner of the inning for Atlanta. Darren O’Day got the eighth and got the first two outs pretty easily before walking Goldschmidt and intentionally walking Arenado. Dylan Lee came in to get the third out and struck out Gorman to end the inning. Austin Riley led off the eighth with a ground ball single, but d’Arnaud grounded into a double play to erase the runner. Ozuna walked with two outs and Eddie Rosario pinch hit for Adam Duvall, but struck out to end the inning. AJ Minter got the ninth for Atlanta and allowed a leadoff single before retiring the next three batters in order, while throwing over to first an annoyingly large amount of times with what can barely even be called a pickoff move.
Orlando Arcia led off the bottom ninth with a walk and Gosselin was brought in to pinch run for him. Michael Harris laced a ball at 110.2 MPH with a .890 xBA but it was caught on a nice grab by the center fielder and Gosselin was halfway to second when the ball was caught, so he was thrown out at first for a double play. Acuna struck out to send the game into Manfredball. Tyler Matzek came in to pitch the tenth for Atlanta and gave up a leadoff single. The ghost runner scored on a sac fly, but Michael Harris made a great play for the second out and nearly threw the runner out at first in a close enough play for the Braves to challenge, but the runner was safe. Matzek got Arenado to fly out for the third out.
On to the bottom of the tenth and Dansby hit a line drive that was fielded for the out at first for the first out. Matt Olson and Austin Riley then hit back to back singles to score Ronald, tying the game and putting the winning run on third with one out and d’Arnaud at the plate. Travis struck out, putting the inning in the hands of Marcell Ozuna against his former team. Ozuna grounded out to extend the suffering that is Manfredball to the eleventh. Matzek came back out for the eleventh, with the Braves bullpen options dwindling and gave up a leadoff single to put runners on first and third with no outs. Dylan Carlson then lined a ball off the glove of Phil Gosselin for an RBI single. A flyout advanced the runner from second to third leaving runners on the corners with one out. Matzek got a huge strikeout against Sosa for the second out before inducing an inning ending groundout to hold the deficit at one...sound familiar?
William Contreras started out the Atlanta eleventh with a groundout to bring Phil Gosselin to the plate, who flew out. Michael Harris was Atlanta’s last hope to get out of the eleventh, but he grounded out to end the game with a Braves loss.
Join us tomorrow at 7:20 for the beginning of a series against the Nationals.