The Braves on Wednesday provided the latest proof of this, when they needed two runs in the bottom of the ninth and scored three to stun the Giants. Out of nowhere, the Braves strung together tough at-bats, made key plays on the bases and stole a victory when they had been quiet for most of the night.
There are a few teams in baseball – the Dodgers are another that often get brought up in these conversations – that are truly never out of a game.
What separates those clubs from others that cannot consistently do that?
“Well, I think, having done it,” said Adam Duvall, one of Wednesday’s heroes. “We’ve done it plenty of times. We know in our mind that we can do it, and we believe it. That’s half the battle, believing that you can come back to win. We’ve been there, we’ve been in this position and we’re able to come up with it.”
“It’s within you,” Michael Harris said. “The type of players we have, we all have that fight in us, we never want to quit, we’re always going to fight to the end. If you have a lot of players like that on one team, it just makes a winning team, and that’s what we want to be.”
The Braves have four walk-off wins this season. They are now 19-12 in games decided by one or two runs, which is tied for the fourth-best such record in the majors. This season, the Braves have 14 comeback victories.
The Braves have had a few incredible wins this season. They once quickly hung four runs on the Padres in the eighth to set up a victory. Another time, they fell behind by a run in the top of the ninth versus the Phillies, only to score two in the bottom half.
With the Braves’ bats, the game is never over. Not only do they have the talent in their lineup that never goes quietly, but they have experience in these spots.
“Ideally, you’d love to be out ahead early each time, but when that doesn’t happen, you’ve still got to be able to keep your composure and understand that putting together at-bat after at-bat is a good thing, and just kind of passing the baton to one another is going to lead to success,” Dansby Swanson said. “I feel like we’re starting to build upon that.”
Charlie Morton could be back on track
Charlie Morton’s teammates are happy for him.
He has strung together consecutive quality starts, which could be a sign of things to come.
“Obviously, everybody knows he’s a pretty quiet guy,” Swanson said. “But he cares so much, he cares a ton. I know that he’s not pleased with himself when he doesn’t give the performance that he feels like this team deserves or needs, and just to kind of see him live up to his own expectations, really, is an awesome thing. He’s been lights out for us.”
Morton tossed seven scoreless innings versus the Cubs on Friday, then held the Giants to two runs over seven frames Wednesday. He’s had an up-and-down season, by his own admission, but could be starting to achieve some consistency.
In evaluating his season, Morton talked about his struggles in the early innings of many starts this season. He believes he’s turned a corner with that.
He cited his May 14 start versus the Padres – in which he held San Diego to a run over six innings – as a point when he began to feel like he was getting on the right track.
Now he’s pitching well deeper into outings.
“I think I’m starting to feel like I’m in a good spot up to innings maybe four or five, whereas before I was kind of searching for it,” he said.
Lineup shuffling Thursday
Ronald Acuña, Austin Riley and Duvall were all out of Thursday’s lineup.
Acuña had a scheduled off-day. Riley was supposed to be off Wednesday, but he pinch-hit in the eighth and played in the ninth, so the Braves gave him Thursday off.
All three were available off the bench if needed.
Jay Jackson begins rehab assignment
Right-hander Jay Jackson (right lat strain) on Thursday was set to begin a rehab assignment with the Florida Complex League Braves, who are the Braves’ rookie-level affiliate.
On March 19, the Braves placed Jackson on the 60-day injured list.
Jackson has a 4.31 ERA over 56 ⅓ big-league innings.