“I really commend him on being able to drive that (fastball) in there, get ahead of guys,” catcher Jeff Mathis said. “Being able to mix the curveball in. It was just a really good mix for us.”
It wasn’t the cleanest performance. Smyly had only two 1-2-3 innings and issued four walks. But he did a nice job working around traffic. Given where he was entering this start – he allowed 10 earned runs over eight innings spanning his past two outings – he and the Braves will take it.
The Braves won a Smyly start for the first time this season.
“It feels pretty good to be able to celebrate with your teammates and help them win a ballgame,” Smyly said. “It’s never easy to win a major-league game. … It definitely feels good to get back in the winning circle.
2. Outfielder Marcell Ozuna is heating up. He opened the scoring in the fourth inning with a double that brought Ronald Acuna home. Ozuna, who hit a grand slam in Wednesday’s win, has a hit in nine of his past 10 games.
3. The Braves came dangerously close to losing their lead after Smyly exited. Luke Jackson inherited a base runner with none out in the seventh, and after surrendering a single, he retired the next three to escape unscathed.
In the eighth, Josh Harrison doubled off Edgar Santana, who then walked Starlin Castro. An out later, Yan Gomes brought home another run to pull the Nationals within one. Manager Brian Snitker lifted Santana for Grant Dayton, who struck out the next two to end the inning. Dayton’s final pitch was a generously called low strike against Victor Robles. Had it been called a ball, the Nationals would’ve had the bases loaded for Ryan Zimmerman.
Will Smith recorded his seventh save, pitching around Zimmerman’s leadoff double in the ninth. So the bullpen, as ugly as it was at moments, came through.
“We were a hit away from having that thing go south on us,” Snitker said. “And they all (the relievers) stepped up. … The whole bullpen, those guys picked each other up, and that was really big.”
4. After not attempting a steal since April 12, Acuna has stolen bases in consecutive games for the first time since doing so in both games of the April 7 doubleheader in Washington. Acuna, who was playing more conservatively since returning from a mild abdominal strain April 23, is 5-for-5 in steal attempts this season.
5. The Braves moved to 5-1 against the Nationals this season, with every game in Washington. The Braves have won 15 of their past 24 in the nation’s capital, which used to be a nightmare for them. It wasn’t too long ago when the Braves went 1-19 in Washington from 2015-16.
Stat of the game
6 (Smyly pitched six innings, tied for his longest outing as a Brave. He picked up his first win since Sept. 7, 2019 against the Mets.)
“It stinks when you get off to a bad start in April because that’s all there is to go off of. Most players, at some point in the season, they’re going to have a bad month and hopefully some really good months. … April is nothing to think about. Let’s just get better and move forward.” – Smyly on turning the page
Thanks, Chicago and D.C.
Credit to die-hard Braves fan Dayton from Nebraska (@BravesAmerica) for pointing this out on Twitter: The Braves are now 10-3 against the Cubs and Nationals. They’re 5-13 against everybody else. They’ve run out of games against the Cubs, but have plenty remaining with Washington. Ideally for them, of course, they start defeating other teams.
The Braves return home, where they’ll host a 100% full crowd Friday against the Phillies. The Braves will become the second team to operate at full capacity, joining the Rangers.