With injuries and rotation scheduling considerations, the Braves turned to Kyle Muller for the start in a big game Tuesday night against the Nationals, needing a win to keep pressure on the Mets.
The offense couldn’t cook up any danger in the top of the first against the very hittable Paolo Espino. The Nationals, on the other hand, managed a single and a stolen base from CJ Abrams and a double from Luke Voit to score a run, although aided by a bit of BABIP luck. The Braves offense again had nothing going in the second and the Nationals again scored a run in the bottom of the frame, this time via a Robles homer. After another inept offensive inning, Muller again gave up a single followed by a double to Luke Voit (on horrid BABIP luck), but Meneses was the runner and was held at third before Muller got out of the inning.
Fortunately, the offense did something productive in the fourth, as Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson singled (although Riley deserved the single far more than Olson), setting the table for a Michael Harris 2 RBI single.
Fortunes continued to run the Braves’ way in the fifth, as Orlando Arcia hit a wall-scraper of a home run. Ronald Acuna needs no luck, however and went back to back with Arcia, absolutely scalding a ball just inside the left field foul pole.
Muller got two outs in the bottom of the fifth before walking Meneses and Snitker pulled him before he could face Voit again, who Collin McHugh got to fly out with his first pitch. On the whole, Muller gave the Braves enough tonight, working 4.2 innings and allowing a manageable run total of 2.
Harris and Contreras each legged out infield singles with two outs in the top of the sixth, setting the table for Eddie Rosario, who went and hit a double to deep center, scoring both runners and rewarding the hustle of the two young hitters. McHugh got the sixth and worked a nice clean 1-2-3 inning. Ronald Acuna went and demolished another homer in the top of the seventh, just to fully establish that he’s found his power stroke again. AJ Minter was the reliever of choice in the seventh and locked things down with another 1-2-3 inning, striking out two. Michael Harris reached on an error before William Contreras singled. Eddie Rosario grounded into what looked like a double play, but was questionably called safe at first on replay after being initially called out. Marcell Ozuna walked on a wild pitch that scored Harris from third, bringing the score up to 8-2.
With a now six run lead, Snitker turned to who else, but Jesse Chavez, whose second pitch turned into a chopper that knocked off his glove, but he that still managed to pick up and make the throw for the out, on his way to a perfect inning.
Walks from Riley and Olson in the top of the inning and a breezy inning from Tyler Matzek were all that the ninth inning held in store.
Join us tomorrow at the same time to see if the Braves can complete the sweep behind Ozorizzi.