BALTIMORE – In this difficult stretch for the Braves, multiple trends have signified that this is not the average slump – at least by this club’s high standards. This is worse.

Wednesday provided the most cruel example: For the first time since 2017, the Braves have lost five games in a row.

The Braves lost to Baltimore, 4-2, at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. After racing out to an 18-6 record, the Braves are 35-30.

Five observations:

1. In 2017, Alex Anthopoulos was a Dodgers executive who had not yet met with the Braves about running baseball operations for them. Brian Snitker was in his first full season managing the big-league team. Max Fried, Ozzie Albies and A.J. Minter debuted. The Braves were going through a rebuild.

And in the final week of that season, the Braves lost six consecutive games.

It is something they did not do in 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and the first two and a half months of 2024 – until Wednesday, when they dropped a fifth contest in a row.

“This is a group that one way or another is going to figure out a way to turn the tide, to end up getting the job done, to keep fighting,” Adam Duvall said. “There’s no lack of, one, concern, or effort to figure it out. This game, at some point in your career, you’re gonna have to try and figure it out. This game will make you get used to figuring it out because it just beats you up day after day. It’s no different here. We’re gonna do what we can to try and figure it out, and keep barreling balls up.”

The latest loss probably provided the heftiest gut punch out of the five.

In it, the Braves grabbed momentum. They made you believe they might turn a corner – again.

In the top of the eighth, Matt Olson blasted a game-tying, two-run home run off a left-handed reliever.

But in the bottom half, Joe Jiménez – who has been excellent this season – gave up his first homer of the season, a two-run shot to Colton Cowser.

The Braves went down easily in the top of the ninth.

“Just couldn’t mount enough to pull it off,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “That’s part of baseball. It hurts and we’re just kind of struggling. We’ll tee it up again tomorrow.”

You don’t want to hear this right now, but it’s rather incredible that Atlanta went this long without a five-game skid. The Braves had played 934 games since their last losing streak of five games, which was the second-longest run of its kind by any club in MLB history, according to Elias Sports Bureau. (The Yankees went 1,243 games between five-game losing streaks from 1930-38).

2. For Atlanta, the swing of emotions had to have been difficult to stomach.

When Olson tied the game, a team that has scuffled received validation – if only for a moment – for its hard work. And with that blast, a slumping offense punched back.

Only to fall behind by two runs 10 or so minutes later.

“Well, I mean, that’s gonna happen, he’s gonna give up a homer every now and then,” Snitker said of Jiménez.

He’s correct. And that’s the issue: The lineup hasn’t given this team much margin for error.

On Wednesday, rookie Spencer Schwellenbach held one of baseball’s best lineups to two runs over six innings. The bullpen, save for Jiménez’s 94 mph four-seamer away, pitched well.

But right now, everything must go almost perfectly because the offense is struggling.

Jiménez’s 3.12 ERA is deceiving. He’s only been scored upon in four of 26 appearances, and two of those included some poor luck. Before Wednesday, he hadn’t given up a run since May 20.

That homer, in an alternate reality, might not have decided the game.

“I mean, you know, we still gotta put more runs across the board,” Duvall said. “It’s a tie ballgame there. We’ve been putting some good swings on them, we just haven’t been able to have the big inning we’ve needed. We battled back there and it just didn’t go our way.”

And once again, the Braves couldn’t convert on their chances. They went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.

On this road trip, they’re 8-for-47 in those spots.

3. On Wednesday, Schwellenbach used a sinker – a pitch he hadn’t ever thrown. He hurled eight of them.

A sinker gives him six pitches. And he’ll use that particular offering to get in on right-handed hitters.

He’s trying to take the experiences of each start and apply new knowledge for the next time out.

“Something I’ve also learned is I’m pitching for outs, I’m not pitching for strikeouts,” he said. “It’s hard enough to get outs in this league, and just worrying about getting outs.”

He only struck out three batters, but he was effective.

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Spencer Schwellenbach throws to a Baltimore Orioles batter during the second inning of a baseball game Wednesday, June 12, 2024, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Credit: AP

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Credit: AP

4. This was a special night for Schwellenbach, who pitched against his former college teammate, Cade Povich. It marked the first time ever that two Nebraska Cornhuskers faced one another as starting pitchers.

Schwellenbach asked for the lineup card from the game. He and Povich also swapped jerseys – and each signed it for the other.

The Nebraska ties don’t end there: Aaron Bummer, who went to the school, pitched for the Braves. Cody Asche, another alum, is an offensive strategy coach for Baltimore. (Povich threw six scoreless frames.)

Four Huskers.

“You don’t really see that very often for the Big Ten,” Schwellenbach said. “We need the Big Ten to show out, and I feel like we did that tonight.”

Added Bummer: “It was fun to watch. The Nebraska ties run deep. And being a Nebraska person, it means something a little bit more. Honestly, man, it was really fun to watch them both.”

The guest list from the school for Wednesday’s game included:

  • Nebraska head coach Will Bolt
  • Head athletic trainer Jerry Weber
  • Katie Jewell, the athletic department’s associate director of academic programs

All were important to Schwellenbach, Bummer and Povich – even though Bummer went there before the other two.

They didn’t go to the most renowned baseball school, but here they were, competing in the majors.

“I think that’s the beautiful thing about this game,” Bummer said. “It doesn’t matter if you were a (junior-college) kid, it doesn’t matter if you were pitching in Timbuktu. If you got the stuff and you got the ability, you can find your way. For a handful of Big Ten guys in an SEC world, to go out there and pitch on the brightest stage for the two of the best teams in baseball is pretty dang cool.”

5. We are far from reaching this point, but here is a potential long-term positive: This adversity could help the Braves later in the season.

“Yeah, I mean, it makes you tougher,” Duvall said. “That part puts you in a position, down the road, to stay together and know that, ‘Hey, we’ve gone through some adversity’ – that mental toughness piece. We’ll be better off because of it.”

It feels like the Braves haven’t gone through something like this since 2021. Last season, they rolled through their schedule, even if they had a couple hiccups.

This, though, has been brutal. They’ve played poorly, but they’ve also received terrible luck at times.

Maybe we’ll look back in a few months and say that this helped them?

“Well, I mean, you hope you’re saying that,” Snitker said. “It’s not easy getting there. Like I say, we’re gonna keep fighting and working, and eventually it’ll turn for us.”

Stat to know

2,447 - There were 2,447 days between Sept. 30, 2017 – when the Braves lost their sixth game in a row – and Wednesday, when they dropped a fifth straight game for the first time since that 2017 season.


“We’ve had to fight through adversity. Even in the 100-win seasons, you go through stretches where it doesn’t go your way. That’s just the way this game is. And nobody likes it, nobody’s happy about it, but what are you gonna do? You come back the next day and you keep fighting and you keep working.” - Snitker

Up next

Reynaldo López on Thursday will try to play stopper for the Braves as he starts the road trip finale against left-hander Cole Irvin and the Orioles. First pitch is at 1:05 p.m.