Last night, the Braves managed 18 hits and five walks, and pooled those into a 14-4 win. Tonight, the offense got 15 hits and threw in a walk for good measure... but ended up plating just three runs. Not that the end result was any different, mind: Charlie Morton and the relief crew held the Rockies to just a lone run, and the Braves rolled to another victory in Denver.
The series of events that had to happen in this game for the Braves to only score three runs was pretty wild. Here’s how the Braves scored their runs:
- Marcell Ozuna hit his 30th homer of the season to open up the second against Peter Lambert. Eddie Rosario followed Ozuna with a triple that barely missed being a homer, and scored as Sean Murphy singled.
- Ages later, Austin Riley doubled off Lambert to lead off the fifth, moved to third on a wild pitch, and after Matt Olson grounded out, scored on Ozuna’s single through a drawn-in infield. That’s it.
Meanwhile, here’s how the Braves didn’t score any extra runs:
- Later in the second, with two on, Ronald Acuña Jr. was picked off first base.
- When a throwing error in the third put Olson and Riley on second and third, respectively, with one out, Ozuna and Rosario made outs without driving them in.
- With one out in the fourth, Lambert hit Orlando Arcia, and Michael Harris II singled to bring up Acuña. On the cusp of securing a historic 30 (homer) 60 (stolen base) campaign, Acuña absolutely destroyed a pitch to straightaway center... only for it to be caught right up against the wall after traveling 418 feet. It was yet another barreled out for Acuña, who leads the majors in this stat by far, and would’ve been a homer by distance and radial angle in 28 of 30 MLB ballparks. Ozzie Albies then struck out to end the inning.
- In the sixth, after an Acuña infield single put two on with one out, Albies singled but Arcia was thrown out at home on the play. Riley then grounded out.
- In the seventh, Eddie Rosario hit into an inning-ending double play after a one-out walk.
- In the eighth, Harris doubled and Acuña singled off the pitcher’s glove, but Albies hit a dying quail to third to end the inning.
The Braves literally did not go three up, three down in this game. They made four consecutive outs once, and three consecutive outs once, and that was it. But the sequencing and the sole homer consigned them to “just” three runs here.
But hey, the pitching made it irrelevant. Morton, who had success de-emphasizing his four-seam fastball in his mini-renaissance over his last two starts, brought it back up to normal usage this time around, but continued to heavily work in his cutter, which he threw around 22 percent of the time — more than he had at any point since a July start last year, and the third-most ever in his long career. The cutter did enough to take the heat off the four-seamer, giving him another source of whiffs and a couple of weakly-hit balls in play. This Rockies lineup is the antonym of formidable, and Morton had few issues cruising. He got three straight outs after a leadoff walk in the first, allowed a triple that Harris nearly flagged down in right-center and then an RBI groundout in the second, a couple of baserunners in the fourth, and mixed in a patented “hit a lefty in the foot with a curve” in the sixth, but was largely unperturbed. His final line was an 8/2 K/BB ratio over six frames, in keeping with his last two outings.
The bullpen had just as few issues. Pierce Johnson faced down his old mates and didn’t allow anything to ‘em, punching out two. A.J. Minter followed with a perfect frame and a strikeout of his own, and fittingly, Raisel Iglesias, retired all three Rockies he faced on changeups to end the game.
The box score in this one is definitely odd — every Brave got a hit, though Ozuna drew the only walk. However, they only managed three extra-base hits, and actually got out-barreled, 3-2. They’ll go for the sweep tomorrow while chasing down 30 homers Acuña and the all-time franchise record for homers, before heading out to Los Angeles for a showdown with the Dodgers.