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Offense can’t overcome Bryce Elder’s struggles in 8-6 loss

The Braves shot themselves in the foot a few significant times and Bryce Elder did not have a strong start

Atlanta Braves v Chicago Cubs Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

In a battle of two contact pitchers on a cool, drizzly day in Chicago, the Braves sought a series win against the Cubs.

Ronald Acuna led the game off as he often does with a single and stole second, but the Braves offense wasn’t able to get anything to land to bring him home, although Matt Olson was a bit unlucky to have a hard hit line drive caught. In the home half, Bryce Elder walked the first two batters and they scored as a grounder snuck under Matt Olson’s glove to score two runners, as he was perhaps rushing to get the ball home after a swinging bunt advanced the runners to second and third. Dansby Swanson followed the error with a two run homer, putting the Braves in a 4-0 early hole. Elder recorded his first strikeout before allowing another home run, this time of the solo variety to Jeimer Candelario.

The Braves got one run back in the second, as Sean Murphy and Marcell Ozuna led off the inning with consecutive singles. An Orlando Arcia sac fly brought Sean home and Michael Harris worked a 3-1 count before weakly grounding out to end the inning. Elder settled in with a 1-2-3 second inning. After Ronald was nearly hit in the head on the way to a strange strikeout, Ozzie blasted a homer to left-center, continuing to chip away at the Cubs’ lead.

Austin drew a walk, but Matt Olson rolled into an inning-ending double play. Elder worked around a single in the third for a scoreless inning. Marcell Ozuna was ejected for arguing with the home plate umpire after a called strike three in the top fourth. Eddie Rosario walked and should have scored on an Arcia “double” that was misplayed in the outfield, but he stopped at second, despite there being two outs. The Cubs went to their bullpen with Michael Fulmer to face Michael Harris and Harris weakly grounded out to end the inning with Rosario’s baserunning costing Atlanta a run. A double from Candelario and a single from Wisdom gave the Cubs a run back against Elder. The Cubs got lucky with a swinging bunt for a hit, but didn’t manage any more runs in the fourth.

Ronald led off the fifth with a single and Ozzie hit a lucky flare single, but Ronald was thrown out at second, as he had to hover in between second and first waiting to see if the ball would be caught. If Ronald had opted to slide he could possibly have been safe, but it’s hard to say. Ozzie stole second on strike three to Austin. Although the throw may have beat him, Hoerner couldn’t hold onto the ball. Elder walked Bellinger to lead off the fifth, Dansby Swanson grounded out, and Morel blooped in a single to score Bellinger from second. Michael Tonkin took over for Elder from there and got out of the inning with a groundout and a strikeout.

The Braves’ offense threatened in the sixth with three straight one out walks from d’Arnaud (in for Ozuna), Rosario, and Arcia. Michael Harris scored d’Arnaud with a well-hit sac fly that had an xBA of .540 and Ronald scored Rosario with a line drive single. Ozzie drew a walk on a full count to load the bases up again for Austin, who struck out to end the inning. The Braves still drew the lead back within three however, at 7-4. Tonkin worked a 1-2-3 bottom sixth and the Braves offense only managed a Travis d’Arnaud single in the seventh. AJ Minter came in for the bottom seventh and allowed a homer on his first pitch to Ian Happ. He then allowed a double to Bellinger, but buckled down to escape the inning and strand Bellinger on second. The Braves’ only baserunner in the eighth was Michael Harris on a walk, which was erased by Acuna grounding into a double play. Pierce Johnson threw a scoreless home eighth, striking out Hoerner, giving the Braves offense one more chance to tie the game up.

Ozzie nearly hit another homer to lead off the inning, but it fell just short of the wall for the first out. Austin Riley hit a one out line drive single and Matt Olson smoked a laser of a homer at 111.9 MPH over the center field wall to make the score 8-6. Travis d’Arnaud worked a full count but grounded out to end the game.

Join us tomorrow for the rubber match, same time, same place.

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