For as chaotic as the series’ first game was on Tuesday, Wednesday’s matchup between the Braves and Red Sox started every bit as quiet, with Spencer Strider and Red Sox starter Brayan Bello—in his return from the paternity list, congratulations to him—each tossing five scoreless frames before Boston paired a trio of solo homers with other timely hitting to solidify a 5-3 win and two-game midweek sweep.
With the loss, Braves move to 64-36 on the year, while the Red Sox continue their July tear and improve to 55-47.
Ronald Acuña Jr. made a loud out on the game’s first pitch in the form of a 108.6 MPH rope with an xBA of .950 hit directly at Boston left fielder Jarren Duran. Ozzie Albies then struck out before Austin Riley reached on a ball that bounced under third baseman Rafael Devers’ glove, but a Matt Olson strikeout prevented any damage in the frame.
In the bottom of the first, Strider started off by falling behind 3-0 to leadoff hitter Duran but ultimately struck him out and proceeded to also retire the next five batters in order.
The Boston infield made a good play followed by a bad play to begin the second, with second baseman Justin Turner showing off his range on a Sean Murphy grounder for an out and Devers making an error on a Marcell Ozuna liner that allowed the Braves’ DH to reach. However, Eddie Rosario then grounded into a double play.
The Braves’ offense continued a trend of one baserunner per inning in the third and fourth, as Acuña drew a two-out walk but was stranded in the former, and Olson hit a one-out single but was erased on a Murphy GIDP in the latter.
Boston also had a pattern in the third and fourth, as Triston Casas and Turner, respectively, led off the frames with a single, but neither turned into any kind of rally against Strider. The Atlanta righthander only threw 41 pitches through 4.0 innings, which was the fewest of his career to that point in the game.
Spencer Strider, Teleporting 99mph ⛽️ pic.twitter.com/xuoVhRoagj— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 26, 2023
While Bello easily retired the Braves in order in the fifth, Strider struggled a bit, walking Casas and allowing a single to Connor Wong after leading off the inning with a strikeout of Alex Verdugo. But the scoreless tie would prevail for another frame, as Strider struck out Yu Chang and got Duran to fly out to Michael Harris II.
Spencer Strider, Nasty 87mph Slider.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 27, 2023
6th K thru 5 pic.twitter.com/8CPicsOuVx
Harris II then turned around and led off the sixth with a double, Acuña Jr. was hit by a pitch, and the Braves finally broke through on a towering Ozzie Albies three-run homer to right field.
Strider responded by striking out his seventh, eighth, and ninth batters of the game while also conceding a two-out solo homer to Devers to bring the score to 3-1.
The seventh inning saw both bullpens called. Bello’s replacement, Joe Jacques, retired the Braves in order in the top of the frame. Strider stayed in initially, striking out Verdugo for his 10th punchout of the game and breaking John Smoltz’s 1996 franchise record by recording his fourth straight outing with double-digit Ks.
But the wheels would fall off, as Strider gave up another solo homer to Casas followed by a single to Wong, and Pierce Johnson entered the game for his Atlanta debut. Johnson induced a Chang ground ball that Albies made an error on to put two runners on with one out, and a Duran groundout advanced the runners to second and third with two outs. Turner capped off the rally by lacing a double off the Green Monster that scored both runs and gave the Red Sox a 4-3 lead going into the eighth inning.
The rest of the game featured former Braves on current Braves crime, as Adam Duvall hit a solo homer off of Kirby Yates in the eighth to bring the score to 5-3, and Kenley Jansen closed the door and earned the save in the ninth. The Braves tried to make it interesting against Jansen, as a Murphy HBP and Kevin Pillar single put runners on the corners with one out, but Forrest Wall pinch ran for Pillar and was caught stealing for the second out before Arcia struck out to end it.
The Braves are off on Thursday and will return home to open a three-game stint against the Brewers on Friday.