After a 7-2 win driven by an explosive eighth inning from the offense on Friday, the Braves had their work cut out for them facing Aaron Nola, with Jake Odorizzi on the mound.
We expected dominance from Nola, but we did not expect three perfect innings from Odorizzi to start the game. Nola only allowed a d’Arnaud double through the first two innings, but the newly reunited dynamic duo of Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna got to him in the third, as Ozzie drew a rare walk and Ronald blasted a monstrous opposite field homer to give the Braves a 2-0 lead.
The Phillies threatened with one out in the fourth, with a single from Alec Bohm and an error from Matt Olson on a Bryce Harper grounder that allowed runners on second and third. JT Realmuto hit a moderately deep fly ball to Michael Harris, whose reputation for having a cannon arm held Bohm, before Odorizzi got another flyout to end the inning unscathed.
William Contreras led off the bottom fourth with a scalded line drive single before Ozzie poked a ball four inches below the plate to the left side of the infield, beating the shift. Eddie flew out for the first out, but some really nice baserunning from Albies and Contreras put them on second and third for Ronnie. Ozzie showed some discomfort in what looked like his right pinky finger but stayed in the game as a baserunner. Given the same situation that Philly failed to score from, Ronald made no mistake and pulled a double down the third base line for another two RBIs. Ozzie left the game after the half-inning, replaced by Vaughn Grissom, with what was later reported to be a fractured right pinky.
2B Ozzie Albies left tonight’s game with a right pinky finger fracture.— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) September 18, 2022
A walk and a soft single sparked danger in the top fifth, resulting in runners on the corners with one out. A sac fly ended Odorizzi’s evening, as Dylan Lee entered the game in relief, although Ronald Acuna made it a close play at the plate. Kyle Schwarber blooped in a single with two outs to create another situation of runners on the corners, this time with two outs and for Alec Bohm. Lee walked Bohm, loading the bases for Bryce Harper, which is exactly what you do NOT want to do against this Philly team. Bryce Harper pulled a line drive to right field, but Ronald Acuna made a spectacular diving grab to save at least two runs.
After three popouts from Atlanta hitters in the fifth, Collin McHugh came in for the sixth and worked an easy 1-2-3 inning. After another toothless inning from the Braves offense, McHugh wasn’t as good in the seventh, as he allowed a single and a double to score a run, exiting the game with one out and a man on second. AJ Minter was the reliever of choice for the situation, and he escaped the inning with two pitches, from a flyout and a groundout. Nola had a dominant seventh and final inning, striking out Acuna, Swanson, and Riley.
Minter got the eighth, as one would expect, especially with Harper as the leadoff batter. After a good battle, Harper hit a .470 xBA double to right center, and that was the end of Minter’s night as Raisel Iglesias entered the game. After a hard-hit flyout from Realmuto, a Brandon Marsh single failed to score Harper, due to the fear of Ronald Acuna’s arm from right field. A Bryson Stott single does score Harper, however, cutting Atlanta’s lead to one run. A popout mercifully ended the inning. Brad Hand entered in relief for Nola and Matt Olson crushed a fly ball to deep center to lead off the eight that just fell short of the wall for an out, but a was good sign for Olson, who has been struggling. Travis d’Arnaud reached on a hard hit single before Harris struck out. William Contreras grounded out to end the inning, sending the game to the top of the ninth with a one run lead for Kenley Jansen, who has struggled recently. Kenley had a nice clear 1-2-3 inning, assisted by a great hustle play by Dansby Swanson to catch a pop fly right up against the foul netting.
Join us tomorrow as the Braves try to sweep the Phillies at 1:35 PM ET.