Here are five observations:
1. The game got wild quickly, then it got wilder.
Moments before first pitch, the Braves announced they’d signed Travis d’Arnaud to a one-year extension with a club option for 2025. By the time Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos had concluded his press conference, Diamondbacks star rookie Corbin Carroll tripled in Geraldo Perdomo, scored on an error, then watched from right field as the Braves took the lead by scoring five in the first.
Neither team could hold on. Arizona responded with five to take a 7-5 lead in the top of the second. After the Diamondbacks added an eighth run in the fourth, the Braves scored four in the bottom half to go ahead, then looked to be pulling away with two more. Arizona scored four in the top of the sixth to take a 12-11 lead, then the Braves responded with two to take it back.
The Diamondbacks tied it up in the eighth behind aggressive baserunning, and when Braves first baseman Matt Olson whiffed trying to turn two on a routine grounder in the ninth, a double from Perdomo and a single from Carroll gave Arizona a 16-13 win.
Olson’s error was the Braves’ third of the day.
“There were some plays we normally make that we didn’t,” manager Brian Snitker said. “But you know what? We’ll play 162 of these things, and every now and then, you’re gonna play one of them. But the guys kept roaring back. We just had a hard time putting them down.”
2. The Braves were in it for as long as they were thanks to Austin Riley’s bat. Riley went 3-for-5 with a double, two home runs and a career-high seven RBIs.
“Going into the off day and today, I just told myself go out there and have fun,” Riley said. “Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, go out there and have fun. Play the game that you love. I felt a lot more relaxed out there at the plate.”
Catcher Sean Murphy had a two-run double in the first inning. Shortstop Orlando Arcia added a two-run home run in the sixth, his eighth homer of the year. The team went 5-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left just one runner on.
3. The Braves needed every one of those runs just to stay competitive, even with an All-Star on the mound.
Bryce Elder struggled for his second consecutive outing, giving up two in the first and five in the second before getting pulled in the third. On July 9 in Tampa Bay, he gave up seven runs in 3 1/3 innings, then his shortest start of his career. Tuesday’s start broke that record only nine days later.
“I think I just kinda started throwing out there, rather than pitching,” Elder said. “These are going to happen. It’s just unfortunate that they’re back to back.”
Elder’s command was fine, he was just hit hard. His ERA was 2.45 before his start against the Rays; it now stands at 3.31.
Postgame, he wasn’t upset about his command or his stuff, but instead, by the fact he forgot to cover first on what would have been a groundout in the second inning.
Braves pitchers struggled seemingly regardless of who was on the mound. Michael Tonkin was solid for the better parts of two innings, but pitched into trouble in the sixth. Ben Heller came in with two on and gave up a go-ahead three run home run. Kirby Yates struggled with control, while closer Raisel Iglesias took the loss with three runs in the ninth, all unearned.
The 16 runs given up were five more than the Braves’ previous season-high.
4. The game had no shortage of excitement, even before factoring in two of baseball’s young stars.
Carroll would be one of the favorites for National League MVP if not for Braves right fielder Ronald Acuña Jr. Both player’s talents were on full display.
Carroll tripled in his first at-bat. He struck out on a bounced curveball in the second inning, but his speed caused chaos. The throw from Murphy ended up in right field, and Carroll stood on third base yet again despite not even making contact. He singled and scored in the sixth, and in the eighth, he was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a groundout.
As for Acuña, he led off the game with a hit and scored in the first as well. In the sixth, he hit a ball off the top of the wall in right, but solid defense from Carroll held him to a single. He stole second for his 44th stolen base of the season, breaking a tie with Oakland’s Esteury Ruiz for most in the majors.
5. The Braves have lost four of five and three in a row. But they still have the best winning percentage in baseball. They’re not worried about any slump.
“It was one of them games, that’s all,” Snitker said. “... We’ve had a whole bunch of days in the last three months that have been really, really, really good. We’re gonna go through spells. It’s not easy doing this, navigating an entire (season). There’s nothing wrong. We’ll be right back at ‘em tomorrow.”
Stat to know:
5 - The Braves have five first innings with five or more runs, the most in baseball. Since 1974, the Braves have only hit that mark twice, recording five in 2003 and 2004.
“I stopped worrying about him a long, long time ago because I know at some point, he’s gonna get hot” - Snitker on Riley
The Braves face the Diamondbacks in the second of a three-game series Wednesday at 7:20 p.m. The Braves’ Charlie Morton (10-6, 3.20 ERA) faces Ryne Nelson (5-5, 4.98).