In the rubber match of the series, and the final game of what has proven to be a difficult road trip, the Atlanta Braves sent their ace Spencer Strider to the bump. The Rangers also sent out their ace, in Nathan Eovaldi, who has stepped up in the absence of Jacob Degrom. In his last three starts before tonight, Eovaldi has gone at least eight innings and hasn’t given up a run.
In the first inning, the matchup went as expected with both starters putting together 1-2-3 innings while not throwing many pitches. One surprise was that Strider did not get a strike out in the first inning, which according to the broadcast was the first time that has happened in his first 29 starts.
In the second, the Braves would strike first. After a bloop single by Austin Riley, Eddie Rosario stepped up to the plate and hammered a first pitch splitter that was down and in, out of the zone to give the Braves a 2-0 lead. This was the first run Eovaldi gave up in his last 29.2 innings.
The quickly got two more hits, with d’arnaud and Ozuna each getting base hits. However, the Braves couldn’t take advantage off the baserunners after an Arcia double play and a Harris ground out. Harris has been struggling to elevate the ball recently with the groundouts piling up for the second year star.
After the big inning by the Braves, Spencer Strider responded with a shutdown inning, striking out the side, despite a scare from former Brave Robbie Grossman who narrowly missed a homer on what became a foul ball.
Spencer Strider's 3Ks in the 2nd. pic.twitter.com/23NYPO02zc— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 18, 2023
However, after the second inning, Strider labored. Despite a scoreless third inning, Strider struggled with command, consistently missing outside to left handed hitters. Strider worked around a walk and an infield hit to get out of the third.
He would not be so lucky in the fourth, with Adolis Garcia taking Strider deep to begin the inning. After another walk and a Robbie Grossman single, Ezequiel Duran hit a double down the right field line to tie the game. Leody Tavares would give the lead with a single up the middle, but Michael Harris would throw out Duran at the plate to keep it a one run game.
After the Braves went 1-2-3 in the top of the fifth, Garcia struck again, hitting another home run. Strider would get through the rest of the fifth unscathed but that would be the end of his night.
Strider did not have anything resembling his best stuff or command, but he still battled through five innings and got seven strikeouts. While he did give up four runs, it could have been a lot worse and he kept the Braves in the game.
The Braves would cut into the Rangers lead with a Ronald Acuna home run. Acuna has been locked in recently, even by the sky high standards he has set this season, homering in each of his past four games. This one was a 429 foot shot to center field. Eovaldi had retired 11 straight prior to that and would retire the next three after that.
Jesse Chavez would come in to replace Strider in the sixth and get a big 1-2-3 inning. Eovaldi would work around two walks in the seventh to keep the game 4-3 heading into the seventh.
The Rangers would get an insurance run after a Marcus Semien triple and a Corey Seager sacrifice fly made the game 5-3. At that point it looked as if the Braves would fall to 1-5 on the road trip and they would drop yet another series, but the Braves would fight back.
The rally was started by none other than Ronald Acuna, who got a walk and stole his 18th base of the season to kick things off. After an Olson strikeout, Ozzie Albies got a base hit to score Acuna to make it a one run game. After Austin Riley fell behind 0-2, he got a hanging curveball that he drove into the gap to tie the game with Albies scoring from first.
Nick Anderson came in for the eight inning and had a crucial shutdown inning to keep the game tied and give the Braves a chance to take the lead in the ninth.
The Braves would do just that when Arcia came to the plate and drove a Brock Burke changeup into the Rangers bullpen to give the Braves a 6-5 lead. With his clutch performances this season, Arcia has already attained cult hero status, and this home run will only add to that.
After blowing a save in Toronto, Raisel Iglesias came into the ball game with a chance to redeem himself. That is exactly what the right hander would do, sitting down the Rangers in order to give the Braves the 6-5 win.
After getting swept in Toronto, the Braves had a nice bounce back series here in Texas, winning two out of three. Despite only going 2-4 on the road trip, for most of this game it looked like it would be worse, but the Braves showed resiliency and fight to get the win.