Five observations on the loss and what’s ahead:
1. At 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Braves manager Brian Snitker called Dylan Lee to tell him he would be the opener for that night’s bullpen game. From there, Lee treated it as a normal day, except for one part. Instead of mentally preparing for it as a relief appearance, he tried to treat it like a normal start.
Lee tossed 2 2/3 scoreless innings to begin the bullpen day. Eventually, the Braves used eight pitchers. It went relatively smoothly.
Bullpen days are interesting because they can go a number of ways.
What are they like for relievers?
“I think it’s just we know it’s coming up,” Lee said. “We knew when some guys went down that there was gonna be a bullpen day. Just strap it in and do our job.”
Kyle Wright hit the injured list last week. Max Fried went on it this week. The Braves will need their bullpen.
2. With his club trailing by a run heading to the ninth inning, Snitker summoned closer Raisel Iglesias, hoping the power righty would hold the game there and give the offense a chance to mount one of its signature comebacks.
Iglesias allowed a double to the first batter. The second, Triston Casas, hammered a 442-foot, two-run home run.
“It was good,” Snitker said of the bullpen game. “We handled it all. We just couldn’t score enough runs, obviously.”
For context: After last summer’s trade, Iglesias allowed one run over 26 1/3 innings with Atlanta.
On Tuesday, he surrendered two runs and departed before the inning had ended.
The shocking part: Iglesias and A.J. Minter, the bullpen’s two best relievers entering the season, were the shakiest of the bunch on Wednesday. Two innings before Iglesias gave up the homer, Minter walked the first two batters he faced, and one eventually scored on a double off Nick Anderson.
The Braves still could’ve won, but …
3. Their offense just never got going.
The Braves tied the game with two runs in the sixth – one on Ronald Acuña Jr.’s homer, the other on Eddie Rosario’s single. Boston starter Brayan Bello allowed only those two runs over six innings.
“I’d never seen him before,” Snitker said. “He’s got a live arm, and a good assortment.”
The Braves ended with eight hits, but they went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left five on base.
Red Sox closer Kenley Jansen, who had 41 saves last year in his only season with the Braves, finished it off for Boston, becoming the seventh player in major-league history to earn 400 saves.
The Braves’ bullpen day nearly worked. Collin McHugh allowed two runs over 1 1/3 innings when he followed Lee. The teams were tied through six.
Down two starting pitchers, the Braves’ offense will have to be at its best.
“It’s super important to be able to just give our starters that cushion and that support of having that advantage,” Acuña said through interpreter Franco García. “That’s always my mentality is just to be able to get on base to let the guys behind me drive me in.”
4. Fans in the Hank Aaron Terrace – which is perched above the seats in the left-field corner – got their money’s worth.
For his latest highlight, Acuña hit a rocket up to those seats. It measured at an estimated 470 feet, the fourth-longest home run of his career.
“He’s one of those guys: You better stay in your seat, you might see something really special,” Snitker said. “You better learn to order on the app or whatever because defensively he can do something that’s gonna blow you up, too. Running the bases (as well). It’s just amazing to me when he connects like that. It’s just something I’ve never seen before, like he can do it.”
5. Last Friday, the Braves began this stretch: Orioles, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Rangers, Mariners, Dodgers, Phillies. All are tough teams, even if the Mariners and Phillies are currently under .500.
The Braves are off to a terrific start, as Tuesday’s win meant they matched the fewest amount of games (36) needed to reach 25 wins in franchise history.
The next couple weeks will tell us even more about this group.
“Just go out to win,” Acuña said. “That’s the only mentality there is.”
Stat to know
42 2/3 - The homer Iglesias served up snapped his 42 2/3-inning homerless streak, which dates to June 16, 2022, which was almost two months prior to the Braves acquiring him.
“To be honest, I feel completely different and much better compared to last year. I hope to continue feeling that way moving forward and be able to stay healthy.” - Acuña, who has seven homers this season
After Thursday’s off day, Spencer Strider will start Friday’s series opener in Toronto. First pitch is at 7:07 p.m.