From the first inning to the last, the Atlanta Braves’ pitching staff was completely overwhelmed by the Arizona Diamondbacks as the Braves lost a 16-13 slugfest to open the three-game series in Cobb County.
All the way back in the first inning of this one, we got our first sign that this was probably going to be a weird one. Corbin Carroll brought in Arizona's first run of the game on a triple that bounced near the plate and managed to make it into the outfield. The second run came on an error and just like that, the Braves went into their half of the first inning down a pair of runs. Perhaps the only thing that we expected to see tonight was Atlanta getting off to a fast start, as they almost immediately wiped out Arizona's lead and also put a bit of a gap between themselves and the Diamondbacks.
The Braves started off the first inning with a single-double-double-walk-double sequence, as Sean Murphy's double in that sequence was the one that made it 4-2 Atlanta. It would've been reasonable to expect Bryce Elder and Atlanta's defense to settle down after gaining the lead in such emphatic fashion. Instead, this was just the beginning of a wacky ride in Cobb County.
Arizona responded with five runs in the bottom of the second. That's right — they hit the Braves with the ol’ Uno reverse card. They led off the frame with a home run from Emmanuel Rivera and then went single-single-sacrifice bunt-double-run scored on strikeout wild pitch and fielding error-single. Yes, you read that correctly. Corbin Carroll was once again at the center of the action of a ball that bounced in the home plate circle.
This time, Sean Murphy was unable to corral the third strike from Bryce Elder and then exacerbated the problem by misfiring on a throw to first base. This allowed Ketel Marte to easily score from third to make it a 6-5 game and then Christian Walker added on an RBI single to plate Carroll from third in order to make it 7-5. Mercifully, the scoring ended there and Bryce Elder did get the first two outs of the third inning before exiting his second disappointing start in a row. Atlanta's All-Star is still in search of a bounce-back.
Michael Tonkin received the ball in relief and while he's usually been reliable as a multiple-inning reliever so far this season, he also had a nightmare on the mound in this one. He got through the rest of the third inning and then got two outs into fourth inning before giving up a solo shot to Christian Walker to make it 8-5 Arizona. At this point it became obvious that if the Braves were going to have a shot in this one, the bats were going to have to provide some serious thump.
Fortunately, Atlanta's offense was capable and up to the task of matching Arizona blow-for-blow in this one. The Braves got to work in their half of the fourth inning and got one run back thanks to a single from Orlando Arcia and a double from substitute Kevin Pillar. The next rally came with two outs, which is when Ozzie Albies walked to put two runners on for Austin Riley. Riley worked his way into a full count and then golfed one over the short fence in left field to put the Braves back in the lead at 9-8. We were officially in "This is a wild one” territory and it was only the fourth inning!
Once again, the Braves got the lead and put some space between themselves and Arizona in this one. Sean Murphy walked to lead off Atlanta's fifth and then Orlando Arcia came through with a two-run shot to make it 11-8 Braves. Surely this meant that Atlanta's pitching staff would finally make it to the ballpark and restore order from here on out, right?
Wrong! Remember when I said that Michael Tonkin ended up having a rough night? Here's where that came into play. Alek Thomas got a leadoff single and then Ketel Marte made matters worse with a double to put two runners in scoring position with just one out. That brought the dangerous Corbin Carroll to the plate and once again, Carroll wreaked havoc upon the Braves on his way to first base. Carroll hit another bouncer in the home plate circle and this time, neither Matt Olson or Michael Tonkin were able to get him out at first base. The RBI infield single made it 11-9, Tonkin left the game after that and it was up to Ben Heller to keep Tonkin's line clean. That quite obviously didn't happen, as Heller immediately served up a sinker that didn't sink to Christian Walker and the Diamondbacks were once again in the lead once the ball landed.
The good news for Atlanta was that Christian Walker was not the only batter who brought his power stroke to the ballpark for this one. Ronald Acuña Jr. got on with a leadoff single, stole second and then was eventually joined at home plate by Austin Riley after Riley continued his revival by crushing one over the fence in center field for his second homer of the night and his seventh RBI of the game. The Braves were once again in the lead and had shown incredible resiliency to keep on responding to the Diamondbacks’ barrage of offense. It was now on Atlanta's pitching staff to hold onto the slender lead.
Sadly, the bad pitching bug from tonight's game ended up being contagious. Joe Jiménez just about scraped by to get a scoreless inning in the seventh and then the Diamondbacks were able to get a run off of Kirby Yates via an RBI single from Dominic Canzone to tie the game at 13 runs apiece. You could argue that Yates was fortunate to only give up one run, as the Diamondbacks were stealing bases at will while he was out there and both of those runners reached base due to a walk and a hit-by-pitch. Even though the game was tied, there was still a bit of hope that the Braves could slug their way back in the lead as long as things stayed at 13 runs for both teams.
Raisel Iglesias then entered the game and added to the collection of stinkers from Atlanta's pitching staff tonight. It also didn't help that the third error of the night ended up being a costly one for the Braves, as Matt Olson's fielding error (the third of the night for the Braves, mind you) put two runners on with nobody out. Geraldo Perdromo delivered the haymaker with a two-RBI double and then Ketel Marte lined one up the middle to make it 16-13 in favor of the Diamondbacks. Raisel Iglesias did strike out Corbin Carroll but his night ended there and that was the cherry on top of a pungent sundae for Atlanta's pitching staff.
Kevin Ginkel came on for Arizona in the bottom of the ninth inning and struck out the side to end the game and doom the Braves to their first three-game losing streak since May. The lineup did their job, as usually 13 runs should be more than enough for any team to win on any given night. It was a completely different story on the mound and in the field — particularly in the infield as all three errors for the Braves came from that part of the field. Kevin Pillar deserves to be treated to a hearty steak dinner after his performance in the outfield tonight.
As the title states, it was a complete horror show for Atlanta's defense and pitching staff one of those nights that multiple players would like to forget. The good news is that this can all be forgotten if things go well tomorrow night, so tune in at 7:20 P.M. E.T. to see if the Braves can snap this uncharacteristic losing streak in a hurry.