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Braves’ season ends with 3-1 loss to Phillies

A tremendous season ends in disappointing fashion for the Braves.

Division Series - Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Four Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The Atlanta Braves had their chances in Game 4, but saw their season come to an end with a 3-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Spencer Strider took the mound to a chorus of boos in the first inning and responded by striking out Kyle Schwarber with a 100 mph fastball. He jumped ahead of Trea Turner 0-2 with two more 100 mph four-seamers, but then left a slider in the middle of the plate that he roped into left field for a double. Strider quickly fell behind Bryce Harper 3-0 and Brian Snitker elected to put him on with the base open. He came back and struck out Alec Bohm for the second out and then got Bryson Stott to fly out to end the inning.

Strider found himself in trouble again in the second after a walk to Nick Castellanos and a single by Brandon Marsh put runners at first and second with one out. He then got some support from his defense as Johan Rojas lifted a soft fly ball to center that Michael Harris made a sliding grab on. Castellanos was off a running on contact and was doubled off second for the third out.

As has been the theme of the series, Atlanta struggled to get their bats going against Ranger Suarez who retired the first eight hitters he faced before Harris reached on a throwing error by Turner with two outs in the third. The Braves had their first scoring opportunity, but Ronald Acuña Jr. grounded back to Suarez for the final out.

The Phillies went right back to work against Strider in the third. Turner and Harper singled with one out to put runners at the corners with just one out. Strider dodged the first bullet by getting Bohm to pop out to Ozzie Albies for the second out. He fell behind Stott 3-1, but then came back to strike him out an outside fastball to escape the jam.

While Strider had to battle hard to battle his way through the first three innings, the Braves hardly made Suarez break a sweat. However, they finally showed some signs of life in the fourth. After Albies started the inning with a pop out, Austin Riley lined an 0-2 pitch over the wall in left to give the Braves a rare lead.

Matt Olson followed with single, but Suarez wiggled off the hook as Marcell Ozuna grounded into a double play to end the inning.

The Braves wouldn’t hold the lead for long. Strider struck out J.T. Realmuto to start the inning, but then left a slider up over the middle half of the plate to Castellanos who sent it into the seats to tie the game. The homer didn’t seem to bother Strider though, who got Marsh to fly out and then blew away Rojas with another 100 mph fastball.

Sean Murphy, who made his first appearance since Game, led off the fifth with a single, but Suarez retired Kevin Pillar, Orlando Arcia and Harris in order to leave him stranded.

Strider began his third trip through the Phillies’ order with a strikeout of Schwarber to start the fifth. However, his first pitch to Turner was a slider in the middle of the plate that he crushed into the left field seats to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead. Strider then walked Harper on five pitches which prompted a visit by pitching coach Rick Kranitz. The visit did him well as Bohm grounded to Riley, who started the double play to end the inning.

Between innings, Rob Thomson went to his bullpen for Seranthony Dominguez rather than have Suarez face the Braves lineup for a third time. Suarez baffled the Braves again allowing just three hits and one run over five innings.

Dominguez retired Acuña and Albies, but then allowed a first pitch single to Riley. Thomson then went back to his bullpen to bring in Jose Alvarado to face Olson. Alvarado got ahead in the count 0-2 and then got him to fly out to Rojas in center for the third out.

Strider came back out for the sixth and retired the first two hitters. He got ahead of Castellanos, but he centered up a 100 mph fastball center cut for his second home run of the game to make it 3-1. That would end Strider’s night as Brian Snitker would then go to A.J. Minter, who allowed a single to Marsh, but got Rojas to pop out to end the inning.

Strider gave it all he had, but made three mistakes where he left pitches up and out over the plate. He struck out seven while allowing seven hits and three solo home runs over 5 23 innings.

The Braves had a huge opportunity to do some damage in the seventh. Alvarado stayed in and retired the first two hitters before issuing back-to-back walks to Pillar and Arcia. That set the wheels in motion as Snitker inserted Forrest Wall to run for Arcia and sent Travis d’Arnaud to the plate to hit for Harris. Thomson countered by bringing in closer Craig Kimbrel. d’Arnaud worked the count to 3-1 and then walked to load the bases.

That would bring the likely NL MVP in Acuña to the plate with the bases loaded. Kimbrel’s first pitch to Acuña went all the way to the backstop, but Pillar got a bad jump at third and was unable to advance. Kimbrel got ahead 1-2 and then caught a break as he left a fastball up that Acuña fouled straight back. Acuña then got an inside fastball and drove it deep to left center, but Rojas ran it down just shy of the wall to leave the runners stranded.

Minter stayed in for the seventh and allowed an infield single to Turner with one out. His first pitch to Harper was up and out over the plate, but he just missed it on a fly out to Acuña in right. Snitker would then bring in Pierce Johnson to face Bohm. Johnson’s 2-0 pitch got away from Murphy allowing Turner to move into scoring position. He then walked Bohm, but then struck out Stott to leave Turner stranded.

Kimbrel stayed in to start the eighth and retired Albies on a fly out before striking out Riley. Thomson would then make another pitching change bringing in Gregory Soto who got Olson to ground out to second to end the inning. Harper collided with Olson on the play and appeared to hurt his surgically repaired elbow.

Johnson came back out to start the eighth and retired Realmuto on a fly out, but then allowed a sharp single to Castellanos. He came back and struck out Marsh for the second out. Snitker then popped out of the dugout and replaced Johnson with Raisel Iglesias who struck out Rojas to send the game to the ninth.

Harper stayed in the game after the collision and so did Soto. The Braves weren’t finished though. Ozuna worked a leadoff walk and then advanced all the way to third on a single by Murphy. Thomson seen enough of Soto and would go to another left-hander in Matt Strahm. Pillar got jammed on an inside pitch and flew out to Turner on the infield for the first out. Snitker then sent Eddie Rosario to pinch-hit for Wall, but Rosario flied out on the first pitch he saw for the second out. Vaughn Grissom then entered to pinch-hit for Lopez and struck out swinging to end the game.

The Braves managed just five hits in the loss as their offense struggled again against Philadelphia pitching. For the second straight year, Atlanta’s season ends in Philadelphia in the Division Series. Perhaps more troublesome, they were thoroughly outplayed in each of the four games and were in some ways fortunate to come away with one win.

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