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Sean Murphy blast and Spencer Strider dominance propel Braves to 6-1 victory

Fourth inning fireworks with some late insurance were more than enough for the Atlanta offense as Spencer Strider cruised through the Ray’s potent lineup.

Atlanta Braves v New York Mets - Game One Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

In a matchup between the top two teams in baseball, we were treated to a duel between two top young arms, one established as a star in Strider and one a top prospect adjusting to the majors.

The first three innings lived up to the hype of the pitching. Bradley was perfect through three, showcasing why he was such a highly regarding prospect, striking out four. Strider ran into some trouble early, with a single and a double in the first, but avoided allowing any to come home and struck out a whopping seven batters in a row from the second out of the first to the second out of the third.

The Braves offense broke through in the fourth, starting at the top with a Ronald Acuna hustle double. Ozzie drew a rare walk and Austin popped out before Matt Olson hit a single to break the deadlock and bring Ronald home. Sean Murphy came through big again, after carrying the Braves to a win on Friday, for a towering three run homer that just snuck inside the left field foul pole.

Strider made the lead stick in the bottom of the inning, striking out two more Rays. The Braves continued to hit the ball hard in the fifth, but only one of those balls converted into a baserunner, in the form of a single. Strider “only” struck out one in the home fifth and Sean Murphy lead off the sixth with a walk but was erased by a ground ball double play in a scoreless inning. Spencer allowed a rare single and issued a rare walk in the bottom sixth, but escaped the inning with his eleventh strikeout of the evening. Acuna drew a two out walk in the seventh and Albies put a charge in one, but Margot tracked it down in the right centerfield gap for the third out.

Spencer Strider was allowed to start the seventh and allowed a leadoff single before securing a flyout from Aranda for the first out and his final batter. Saturday was one of his best starts of the season, with 6.1 IP, 11 K, 1 BB, and 0 ER. Kirby Yates came on in relief and finished off the inning with a shallow pop fly and a strikeout. After another fairly uneventful inning for the Braves’ offense in the eighth, AJ Minter was given the inning and struck out Yandy Diaz to start the inning but departed with the trainer due to an apparent injury.

Ben Heller replaced Minter and immediately walked Franco. He got Luke Raley on a soft chopper to third, but Austin had to charge in to make the play and could only throw to first, leaving nobody covering third, so Franco ran to take third and Olson bizarrely threw the ball to third anyway as Arcia was running to cover the base but not particularly close and the ball went flying past into foul territory, allowing Franco to score the Rays’ first run. Heller got a flyout to end the inning after that strange turn of events.

The Rays gave the run back in the eighth as Arcia reached on a line drive single and Harris grounded into a fielders’ choice that Franco tried to toss to second, but it was a bit awkward of a play for the second baseman and the ball went past into the outfield, allowing Arcia to take not only third, but go home with no contest due to an errant throw home. Harris took second on the play and Ronald singled him home with a grounder up the middle.

Ozzie and Austin were unable to bring Ronald home, however, and we went into the bottom of the ninth with an Atlanta 6-1 lead and former Ray Collin McHugh attempting to finish off the series win. McHugh worked a quick inning of outs on balls in play to finish off the Rays and secure a series victory.

Let’s see if the Braves can sweep the vaunted Rays at 1:40 PM ET on Sunday before the MLB Draft.

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