Braves undone by eighth inning in loss to Yankees

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Charlie Morton winds up during the first inning of a baseball game against the New York Yankees, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at Yankee Stadium in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Charlie Morton winds up during the first inning of a baseball game against the New York Yankees, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at Yankee Stadium in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Two Braves relievers spoiled a stellar start from Charlie Morton, leading to the team’s 3-1 loss Tuesday against the Yankees in New York. It snapped a five-game losing streak for the Yankees. The Braves dropped to 7-10 and will try to avoid a two-game sweep Wednesday.

Here are five takeaways from the loss:

1. Lefty Tyler Matzek has been so effective for the Braves, but he wasn’t in the eighth inning Tuesday. He issued a leadoff walk and allowed two singles, letting the Yankees load the bases without an out in a 1-1 game. Matzek exited without recording an out.

Nate Jones followed Matzek and threw a wild pitch that resulted in the go-ahead run. Jones later walked Mike Ford on four pitches with the bases loaded. Both runs were charged to Matzek, who hadn’t allowed a run in his previous eight appearances.

“We had a leadoff walk and didn’t execute pitches after that,” manager Brian Snitker said. “The wild pitch, walked a run in. That was an ugly inning all the way around.”

ExploreFreddie Freeman: ‘There is nothing going on’ with potential contract talks

2. Morton is quite familiar with the Yankees after facing them with the Astros (2017-18) and division foe Rays (2019-20). He sure seemed like he’d seen them before: Morton retired the first seven Yankees he faced before Gio Urshela laced an opposite-field double.

Urshela was responsible for two of the three hits the Yankees had against Morton. He homered to center in the fifth inning, which was the only blemish on Morton’s night. The 37-year-old allowed one run over six innings, striking out six and walking two.

3. Morton notched his 1,300th strikeout in the third inning when he got DJ LeMahieu swinging at a curveball in the dirt. Morton is one of 27 active players to accrue 1,300 or more strikeouts. Justin Verlander is the current active leader with 3,013.

Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Nate Jones center, removes his cap and turns away from the plate as New York Yankees DJ LeMahieu scores on a walk during the eighth inning of an interleague baseball game, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at Yankee Stadium in New York. Atlanta Braves catcher Travis d'Arnaud is at left. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Nate Jones center, removes his cap and turns away from the plate as New York Yankees DJ LeMahieu scores on a walk during the eighth inning of an interleague baseball game, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at Yankee Stadium in New York. Atlanta Braves catcher Travis d'Arnaud is at left. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

4. Raise your hand if you had Guillermo Heredia and Ehire Adrianza starting a game together in the outfield at any point this season. Injuries to Ronald Acuna, Cristian Pache and Ender Inciarte made that happen Tuesday.

Heredia, coming off a two-homer, six-RBI performance Sunday, slapped a two-out double in the third inning off Yankees starter Jameson Taillon. Heredia had two hits, giving him five in his last two games. Adrianza, starting for Acuna in right field and hitting leadoff, followed with his own double to score the game’s first run. He struck out in his other three plate appearances.

5. The Braves’ lost opportunity was the seventh. Pablo Sandoval walked while Heredia and Austin Riley singled to load the bases with one out. Adrianza struck out. Freddie Freeman grounded out. The Braves were left empty-handed in a 1-1 game.

“We had chances tonight on offense, we had chances tonight to limit runs,” Morton said. “It’s like feast or famine. We just haven’t hit our groove. At the end of the day, we’re a really, really good team. I think the guys feel really good about it. At the same time, it’s frustrating to lose, to lose multiple games and feel like you’re not hitting your stride. But the key here is not losing sight at how good of a team we are.”

Stat of the game

Sept. 5, 2020 (The last time Matzek allowed multiple runs in a game was last September, when he surrendered two runs in an inning against the Nationals. He went 23 consecutive appearances without allowing more than one run until Tuesday.)

Yankees 3, Braves 1 (box score)

Quotable

“We’re in a similar position as the Yankees (6-10) right now: We’re a really, really, really good team. And the Yankees are a really, really good team. We’re just underperforming.” - Morton on the Braves’ start

Up next

The Braves and Yankees conclude their two-game series Wednesday evening, when Ian Anderson will start against Corey Kluber. Anderson last faced the Yankees in his major-league debut in August 2020. He allowed one run, a Luke Voit homer, over six innings and outdueled Gerrit Cole.

In Other News