Like other members of the Braves’ rotation lately, Bryce Elder needed a good start. He gave the Braves seven scoreless, so if that’s your standard, then he had a good start. On a more scrutinized level, his 3/3 K/BB ratio was only okay, but given that the Braves spotted him a three-run first, he pretty much just cruised to the finish line in an easy 5-0 victory for the home team.
This game flew by, and there were few things to really note. The Atlanta attack once again did what it normally does: smash the ball in the first inning. After Elder’s 1-2-3 first, Ronald Acuña Jr. knocked a leadoff single and then moved to third on a botched pickoff throw. Both Michael Harris II (popout) and Austin Riley (strikeout) failed to score Acuña, but after Luis Severino walked Matt Olson, Marcell Ozuna provided all the damage the Braves would need on a first-pitch hanging slider:
Severino followed up the bomb by walking Eddie Rosario and hitting Sean Murphy, but Orlando Arcia flew out to end the frame.
The Braves weren’t quite done with the three-run homer, as Acuña added a two-run shot in the fourth:
The guy on base for this homer was Murphy, who reached base on a fielding error that was one of a bunch of times the Yankee infield kicked the ball around in this one.
From there on out, the Braves threatened a few times, but didn’t score. Severino departed after the fourth with a 5/2 K/BB ratio and was replaced by Wandy Peralta, who threw a scoreless inning despite a walk and another plunking of Murphy in the same inning. Tommy Kahnle allowed the Braves to load the bases on an infield single and two walks, but struck out Arcia to keep the game 5-0. Clay Holmes threw a perfect eighth, joining Jonathan Loaisiga as a New York hurler that breezed through his frame.
On the mound, this game was all about Bryce Elder getting the timely twin killing. In the second, after a leadoff walk and a one-out single, he got Harrison Bader to hit into a straightforward 6-4-3. In the fourth, after a leadoff walk, it was a 6-4-3 off Gleyber Torres’ bat for the first two outs, and then a popout to end the frame. That sequence repeated in the seventh, where again Aaron Judge led off the inning with a walk, and again Torres hit into a twin killing, this time of the 5-4-3 variety, and again, Giancarlo Stanton popped out to Murphy. After A.J. Minter threw a scoreless eighth, Kirby Yates ended the game on a fourth and final double play, another 5-4-3, this time getting Aaron Judge to erase a one-out walk.
As noted, Elder’s 3/3 K/BB ratio was nothing special, but at least he had a 56 percent grounder rate, and got a 39 percent whiff rate on his slider, which exceeded his sinker in usage on the night. That gives him a relatively more sustainable path to success going forward, as there will be few challenges for Elder even with modest K/BB ratios if he can keep the ball on the ground and actually get whiffs on his slider to put opposing batters into unfavorable counts.
Marcell Ozuna had a perfect night at the plate, with his big homer, a single, and two walks. Sean Murphy reached base three times without a hit, wearing two hit by pitches in the process. The legend of Nicky Lopez encountered a bit of a setback, as he wore an 0-for-4 at the bottom of the lineup.
Amusingly, the Braves won this game despite the Yankees earning five walks and striking out just four times. Homers and double plays will do that.
The Braves will go for the sweep tomorrow night behind Charlie Morton, who could also use a good start and maybe has a chance to do so against a Yankees offense that’s looked beyond moribund so far.