5 takeaways after Braves are swept by Blue Jays again

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Despite battling throughout Thursday afternoon, the Braves were defeated by the Blue Jays again, 8-4 at Truist Park. Toronto scored four times in the ninth to complete the season sweep.

ExploreAcuna, Braves get a scare with tumble at first base

Here are five takeaways from Thursday:

1. Left-hander Will Smith has his critics, but he had been effective entering Thursday. He wasn’t in his latest outing, however, and was charged with each of the Blue Jays’ four runs in the ninth. It started with Danny Jansen and Marcus Semien greeting Smith with singles to begin the inning.

Bo Bichette, who enjoyed no shortage of success against the Braves (17-20), doubled home both runners to break a 4-4 tie. Three hitters later, Cavan Biggio doubled off the wall for Toronto’s third run. Manager Brian Snitker lifted Smith, who walked off the field to a chorus of boos. The Blue Jays tacked on one more run to pad their victory.

Before Thursday, Smith hadn’t allowed a run in his past six outings. But his tough day came at a time when the bullpen has been under fire for its recent struggles and revolving door of pitchers.

“We (the relievers) are throwing the ball well,” Smith said. “It’s just when you’re in the back end, and you give it up, it just seems to stick out a little more than other times. Starters have five, six innings to bounce back and put up more zeroes. If we give up one, sometimes all we have is a one-run lead to work with, it just looks bad. But all the guys are throwing well, and we’re all working hard to get better. It just doesn’t go our way sometimes.”

2. Braves starter Charlie Morton was better than in his horrific previous start, when he recorded only two outs. But Morton pitched only 4-2/3 innings, allowing three runs on seven hits. He departed with the bases loaded and two down in the fifth. Jacob Webb struck out Lourdes Gurriel on three pitches to end the inning.

“I’m trying to be objective about my outings,” Morton said. “I’m trying to learn from my mistakes. But I guess that’s the silver lining, that my stuff is still there. There’s a pitch-mix element to it. There’s a mechanical element to it. Just an overall approach. But I feel like there’s no reason why I can’t get those things squared away and go out there and do a good job for this team.”

Blue Jays 8, Braves 4 (box score)

3. Reliever Chris Martin made his first appearance since April 4, pitching a clean seventh inning. Martin’s return is an enormous boost for the aforementioned bullpen.

4. Ronald Acuna smashed a leadoff homer to left field off Blue Jays starter Ross Stripling. It was his 12th home run, extending his major-league lead. Four players, all American Leaguers, are tied for second with 10 homers. Acuna is three home runs up on the second-highest total in the National League, which is a group that includes teammate Freddie Freeman.

5. Acuna left the game after injuring his ankle running across first base in the seventh inning. X-rays were negative, and he’s day-to-day. Outfielder Cristian Pache left earlier in the afternoon and will go on the 10-day injured list with a hamstring strain. Veteran Ender Inciarte (hamstring) will return from his rehab assignment at Triple-A Gwinnett and rejoin the club Friday.

Stat to know

0-6 (The Braves went winless against the Blue Jays. The last time the Braves were swept in a season was 2017, when the Astros won all four meetings. The last time they went 0-6 against an opponent was in 2008 versus the Cubs.)

Quotable

“I guess they just have our number this year.” – Smith on the Blue Jays

Up next

The Braves begin a three-game series in Milwaukee on Friday, with Drew Smyly starting the opener. It will be a brief trip for the Braves, who return home at the start of next week for a seven-game homestand against the Mets and Pirates.