The Braves’ offensive struggles continued Saturday when they lost to the Reds 4-1 in Cincinnati.
Here are five takeaways from Saturday:
1. The Braves are 4-5 in their past nine games, and they’re lucky they’re not worse. The team is 7-for-52 (.135) with runners in scoring position over that span, including 1-for-8 on Saturday. The Braves haven’t scored more than three runs in a game since June 18, a stretch of nine contests in which they’ve averaged two runs per game. Great American Ball Park, typically a hitters’ paradise, hasn’t helped solve their woes.
2. A prime example of the team’s frustrations occurred in the third inning. Ronald Acuna doubled and Freddie Freeman walked to give the Braves a scoring opportunity. Ozzie Albies flew out. Austin Riley rocketed a ball 110 mph to third that was snagged by Eugenio Suarez.
“It’s frustrating,” Riley said. “I feel like we’ve been putting up really good at-bats. Just barreling a lot of balls right at people. The one today on me, (runners on) first and third, line drive to third base. What can you do? You just got to keep going out there and putting up good at-bats. Just keep fighting.”
3. Reds outfielder Jesse Winker homered off Ian Anderson in the first inning. It was the first homer Anderson has surrendered since giving up two May 29 against the Mets. Anderson allowed two more runs in his six-inning outing, both via two-out hits by Nick Castellanos and Joey Votto in the third.
Anderson finished strong, retiring the final 10 Reds, five via strikeout.
“It was frustrating letting all that happen with two outs, but to be able to bounce back, find a groove and get through six, that’s going to be good going forward,” Anderson said. It was only the second time he’d pitched six innings in a start since late May, when Anderson finished a run of three consecutive six-inning starts.
4. Reliever Shane Greene pitched a perfect seventh. He threw 15 pitches, 12 for strikes. He retired Suarez and Tucker Barnhart on grounders before striking out Kyle Farmer.
It was only the third time in seven appearances that Greene didn’t allow a run. It was only his second clean outing. The Braves have preached patience with Greene, who had allowed seven runs across his past three outings (1-1/3 innings) entering the day.
“That was probably as good as he’s thrown since he’s been here,” manager Brian Snitker said. “It was very encouraging. Just overall stuff, and I know they’ve been working in the bullpen. Best he’s looked since he’s been back and rightfully so. I think as he gets out there and we use him and he becomes more regular, you’re going to see more of that.”
5. The biggest news of the day wasn’t on the field. Braves right-hander Mike Soroka re-tore his right Achilles on Thursday while walking to the Truist Park clubhouse, the team announced. Soroka, 23, underwent surgery in August after tearing his Achilles during his third start of the shortened season.
It’s been a long, challenging journey for Soroka since. He’s suffered multiple setbacks, including undergoing exploratory surgery on the Achilles last month. The earliest Soroka could realistically be on the field again is midseason 2022, though he has a lengthy process ahead of him to make that a reality.
“We’re all feeling for him,” Anderson said. “We all wish he was here. It’s definitely tough. Knowing Mike, he’s got a good attitude about it. And hopefully we can see the best of him through all this. We’re all pulling for him.”
Reds 4, Braves 1 (box score)
Stat to know
2 (The Braves are averaging two runs per game across their past nine contests.)
“In all my years, I’ve never figured out how to rectify it. It’s just one of those things. You have to keep having good at-bats, keep hitting the ball hard. You can’t direct it. And hopefully it falls.” – Snitker on the offense
The Braves and Reds finish their four-game series Sunday afternoon. Braves rookie Kyle Muller will make his second career start against Reds righty Tyler Mahle.