The most surprising part of this: Kenley Jansen, perfect through his first nine save opportunities, blew his first save with the Braves. Down to his final strike, Kolten Wong got to a 95 mph sinker above the zone and sent it into right field, far out of reach for Ronald Acuña, for a run-scoring triple that tied the score. Jansen had converted 26 consecutive save opportunities, which was the second-longest active streak in the majors.
“A great piece of hitting by Kolten Wong,” Jansen said after the game. “He just fought it off with the end of the bat, and what can you do? One thing I can say is just the leadoff walk kills me. That’s one thing just … If I would’ve eliminated that walk, it would’ve been a better outing. But you can’t do anything there. Just a one-run game, there’s no room for error. Credit to Kolten Wong, he fought that one off and they ended up winning the game.”
While the Braves would have won had Jansen earned one more strike, he might not be the focal point of this game. The blame might fall on everyone.
The offense exploded for a four-run third inning … then never scored again through nine innings. In extra innings, the offense only scored a run in each of the final two innings, which puts the road team behind the curve with the extra-innings rules in which a runner is at second base to begin each inning.
“We need to continue to add on in that game, is what you need to do,” Snitker said. “We had a hard time doing that. (Brewers starter Corbin Burnes is) a rough ride, obviously, but we still have to do that.”
Burnes is the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner – and the Braves deserve credit for scoring four runs off him in the fourth, when Austin Riley and Marcell Ozuna launched back-to-back homers – but Milwaukee used five relievers. None was closer Josh Hader. A lineup with Acuña, Riley, Ozuna, Matt Olson and Ozzie Albies should be doing more to support its pitching staff.
Max Fried allowed three runs over six innings and left with a one-run lead. Spencer Strider, thrust into a high-leverage spot with Tyler Matzek on the injured list, struck out the side in a scoreless seventh inning. Will Smith worked around a one-out walk to preserve the lead in the eighth before Jansen blew the save.
Jansen had allowed one run over his past 14-2/3 innings dating to April 13. He had struck out 21 batters, with only two walks.
In Wednesday’s loss, he issued a leadoff walk. His streak of consecutive appearances with at least one strikeout – the longest active streak for a reliever in baseball – ended at 24. It took one heck of an at-bat by Wong to beat Jansen, who had only allowed three hits in his previous 14 outings.
“Nothing you can do there,” Jansen. “For him to do that and it took him a long time to do that, what can I say? He just fought it off. I can’t be like, what’s wrong with me? Or this and that. It’s just tip your hat to him. Great at-bat.”
In the 10th, Acuña scored from second when the second throw in a would-be double play went a bit high, making it tough for the first baseman to grab. In the 11th, Travis d’Arnaud poked a single down the first-base line to score Albies.
But the Braves’ offense, which hasn’t yet been as consistently dangerous as the team would’ve hoped, failed to score more. That allowed the Brewers to tie the score on a sacrifice fly against Darren O’Day in the 10th before Hiura sent everyone home – and the Braves to Miami – with a 404-foot home run off Chavez.
“(Hiura) wasn’t trying to move the runner, it didn’t look like. He was trying to do that right there,” Snitker said. “It’s hard when you’re the road team. You’ve got to score multiple runs, I think, in extra innings to make things hold up, because it’s an impossible situation with the runner on second and no outs.”
Added Jansen: “With a man on second, you’ve got to score two runs to get a good chance to win ballgames. I think once they fought that one with me, you could see the momentum shift to them. They felt like they had a good chance to win the ballgame.”
The Braves seemingly had the perfect recipe to win this game. They got to Burnes. Strider and Smith got the game to Jansen, who is one of baseball’s best closers.
This looked and felt like a series victory for Atlanta.
Until it wasn’t.
The Braves now head to Miami for three games against the Marlins. They’ll attempt to do what they’ve been trying to do all along: gain some momentum.
“It’s baseball, and it’s not going to just be perfect all the time,” Snitker said. “You have to fight through the times that aren’t, because if you do and you handle it, you allow yourself to get something going.”