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Braves come up short in a 5-4 loss to Padres

Offense unable to get the job done with runners in scoring position

MLB: San Diego Padres at Atlanta Braves
Ronald Acuna Jr. makes diving catch to rob Juan Soto
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Braves could not repeat their walk-off performance from Thursday night despite having the winning run at the plate in the bottom of the ninth, dropping the second of a four game series 5-4. This loss brings the Braves record to 6-2.

Rookie starter Jared Shuster’s second big league start looked a lot like his first one, with early command problems before slowly settling into the game until he begins to tire around the 90 pitch mark.

He got into trouble immediately, walking Juan Soto before an odd play where Orlando Arcia fielded a ground ball before failing to touch second base and then not being able to throw out Manny Machado at first base. San Diego would take advantage of this, with veteran DH Nelson Cruz doubling down the line.

After getting a strikeout with a sneaky fastball following three straight sliders, Shuster’s command would desert him, walking two straight batters, the latter of which would bring home a run for the Friars. Shuster would avoid a blowup by striking out Trent Grisham on his 37th pitch of the frame.

After a quick first inning by Padres starter Nick Martinez, Shuster would be victimized by some small-ball from the Friars. Jose Azocar would get a base hit to open the inning before stealing a base and getting to third on a sacrifice fly. An odd play in the middle infield would once again prove decisive for the Padres, with Ozzie Albies getting the ball stuck in his glove after a diving catch, rendering him unable to throw out the slow footed Nelson Cruz, which would make the game 3-0.

Martinez would continue to roll through the Braves lineup early, with a 1-2-3 second inning. Shuster would begin to settle into the game, putting up a 1-2-3 of his own in the top of the third on only 12 pitches.

The Braves offense would wake up in the bottom frame, with Marcell Ozuna hitting a towering 440 foot homer to open the inning.

The Braves would tie the game in the inning, putting together a rally that included a wild pitch and an Austin Riley RBI single.

The highlight of the game for the Braves happened in the top of the fourth, when Ronald Acuna made a phenomenal jumping catch where he contorted himself into an air Jordan type pose to rob Juan Soto. There are already t-shirts being made of the catch!

Most importantly for the Braves, it would lead to another zero being put on the board by Shuster, who showed why he was a top prospect in those two innings. He showed two above average to plus secondaries in his slider and changeup, and a fastball he can use to set those two pitches up, even if it isn’t overpowering.

However, with his pitch count high due to his laborious first inning, Shuster would tire in the fifth, not getting an out and leaving the runners on the corners with nobody out for Michael Tonkin who would relieve him.

Tonkin, who before this season hadn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2017, did a good job of limiting the damage, only allowing one run via a sacrifice fly to get out of the inning.

The Braves would respond in the bottom half of the inning to get Shuster off the hook by taking advantage of Nick Martinez’s fading command. The right-hander would walk three batters in the frame, including Sean Murphy with the bases loaded to bring home a run and tie the game.

Murphy would be his last batter of the game, with Brent Honeywell coming into replace him. Eddie Rosario unloaded on Honeywell’s first pitch, hitting a foul ball which was only feet away from being a grand slam. However, Honeywell would get the last laugh, striking out Rosario on three pitches to leave the bases loaded.

The Braves struggled with runners in scoring position all night, only going one for seven and leaving 10 men stranded.

In the top of the sixth, the Padres would play more small ball, with a walk, a sac bunt and a single from a half swing giving the Friars the decisive run in the ball game and giving Michael Tonkin a tough luck loss.

The Braves would get more chances on the night, most notably another bases loaded situation in the seventh where once again Eddie Rosario could not come through.

Joe Jimenez, Jesse Chavez and Lucas Luetge would keep the Braves in the game, with the trio striking out six Padres and only allowing one baserunner. However, this would be in vain as the Braves bats just couldn’t get going.

An Austin Riley single against Josh Hader would give Braves country a glimmer of hope in the bottom of the ninth, but a strikeout from the struggling Ozzie Albies and a Sean Murphy ground out would put the game to bed, giving the Padres a much needed victory.

The penultimate game of the four game series is Saturday at 7:20 ET where Charlie Morton faces off against Michael Wacha.

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