5 observations from Braves’ lost weekend in Florida

Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman strikes out in front of Toronto Blue Jays catcher Danny Jansen during the eighth inning Sunday, May 2, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. Freeman struck out three times in 7-2 loss. (Mike Carlson/AP)
Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman strikes out in front of Toronto Blue Jays catcher Danny Jansen during the eighth inning Sunday, May 2, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. Freeman struck out three times in 7-2 loss. (Mike Carlson/AP)

Credit: Mike Carlson

Credit: Mike Carlson

1. Losing games and players

It was a lost weekend for the Braves in Dunedin, Fla. They lost all three games of the series against Toronto at TD Ballpark, and they lost their starting catcher, their backup catcher and their (recently) starting center fielder to injuries.

Travis d’Arnaud, starting catcher, went on the 60-day injured list and will require surgery for a torn ligament in his left thumb. Alex Jackson, who was the backup catcher, and Guillermo Heredia, who had started in center field for 11 consecutive games, went on the 10-day IL with hamstring injuries.

As for the games, Sunday’s loss was the Braves’ fourth in a row, dating to the finale of last week’s series against the Cubs at Truist Park. It’s the Braves’ third four-game losing streak of the young season.

2. Not a good birthday gift

Braves pitcher Ian Anderson, who held the Yankees and Cubs scoreless in his two previous starts, allowed four runs on six hits in four innings of work against the Blue Jays on his 23rd birthday. It was his shortest start of the season.

“He didn’t have a real good feel for anything, really,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “He just grinded his way through the innings, struggled his way through some of the innings. Just one of them days.”

Credit: Atlanta Braves

Braves pitcher Ian Anderson comments on pitching performance against Blue Jays and playing a regular season game in a spring training ballpark.

Credit: Atlanta Braves

“I felt like I battled,” Anderson said. “I just kind of didn’t execute, and that can be the difference up here. ... There’s a few pitches I want back, definitely.”

3. Struggling against left-handers

The Braves fell behind 4-1, but they seemed positioned for a big inning in the fifth when they had the bases loaded and the top of the order — Ronald Acuna, Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna — coming up. However, after an Acuna sacrifice fly, Freeman and Ozuna struck out against Blue Jays reliever Ryan Borucki, a left-hander.

Against lefties, Ozuna has only one hit and Freeman only two this season. As a team, the Braves have MLB’s second-worst batting average against lefties.

4. Another Contreras catching in MLB

Rookie William Contreras was promoted from the alternate training site to take over for d’Arnaud as the Braves’ starting catcher, and in his first at-bat Sunday he lined an RBI single to left field. He finished the day 1-for-3 and drew a walk.

Braves catcher William Contreras follows through on a run-scoring single against the Toronto Blue Jays during the second inning Sunday, May 2, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. (Mike Carlson/AP)
Braves catcher William Contreras follows through on a run-scoring single against the Toronto Blue Jays during the second inning Sunday, May 2, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. (Mike Carlson/AP)

Credit: Mike Carlson

Credit: Mike Carlson

“It’s my turn to step up,” Contreras said. “Hopefully I can help and contribute to the team and handle the pitching staff well. With all of that said, we’re definitely going to miss Travis because, to me, he was like a brother.”

Contreras called his older brother, Cubs catcher Willson Contreras, as soon as he was informed of his promotion to the big leagues. “He was very happy. He told me, ‘Now is your time. You need to work every day. Play hard. Play the game.’ ”

5. On a (very) hot streak

Braves third baseman Austin Riley had four hits, all singles, to raise his batting average to .329. Over his past 13 games, dating to April 18, he is hitting .489 (20-for-41).

During that stretch, his batting average for the season has risen almost 150 points (from .182) and his OPS more than 400 points (from .456 to .890).

Riley has struggled some with his throwing of late, including a first-inning error Sunday.

Blue Jays 7, Braves 2 (box score)

What he said

“We’ve just got to keep fighting through this thing and hopefully get hitting on all cylinders.” - Manager Brian Snitker after his team dropped to 12-16

Numbers to note

1,554: Attendance for Sunday’s game at socially distanced TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Fla., not counting the cardboard cutouts

6: Combined strikeouts Sunday by Freddie Freeman and Pablo Sandoval (three apiece)

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