SAN DIEGO – The Braves dropped the final game of this road trip, but will head home relatively satisfied. After all, they are in a great spot, with different parts of the club clicking at the same time, for the most part.
The Braves won five of six games on a road trip that ended with a 1-0 loss to the Padres in a game that could have gone either way. On Wednesday at Petco Park, the Braves saw their eight-game winning streak end.
Five observations after the loss:
1. As they head into Thursday’s off day – their first day off since March 31 – the Braves are 14-5, which is tied for the best record in the National League.
Last season, Atlanta posted an 8-11 record through its first 19 games.
“It’s always nice to be where we’re at right now versus, obviously, coming out slow,” Austin Riley said. “Guys are putting up good at-bats and our pitching is doing a great job. Get back to the East Coast, enjoy the off day, kind of regroup.”
The Braves probably were a hit or two away from sweeping a third consecutive series. They are playing well in every facet. Perfection is unattainable, but this group is rolling.
It becomes even more impressive from this angle: The Braves have done this without Raisel Iglesias for the entire season, Collin McHugh for most of the season, and Michael Harris II and Travis d’Arnaud for part of the season. Oh, and they lost Orlando Arcia before this trip.
“I really like where we’re at,” manager Brian Snitker said. “As we came out, I thought we had a really good spring training and were ready to go. We’re going to get guys back, I think, especially in the ‘pen, which is going to help us, even. We’re doing a great job right now of making up for that.
“I think you can always get better. I don’t think you’re ever satisfied. We’re going to continue to work to be even better.”
2. In the bottom of the fourth inning, Braves starter Charlie Morton fired a two-seamer toward the top of the zone that stayed in the middle.
San Diego’s Juan Soto punished Morton, sending the ball 431 feet out to right-center field.
“I just wish I hadn’t made that pitch to Soto,” said Morton, who didn’t allow another blemish over his six innings.
This is the cruel part of these types of games: One mistake pitch is highlighted.
In reality, Morton pitched really well and his offense didn’t come through. It happens. The Braves hadn’t lost since April 9.
Soto, one of the game’s best hitters, is 7-for-11 with three home runs and five RBIs versus Morton.
“Really good,” Snitker said of Morton. “He gave up a homer to a really good hitter.”
3. In a scoreless game in the third inning, the Braves loaded the bases with one out against San Diego starter Nick Martinez. They looked ready to break through.
Instead, Matt Olson popped out and Riley struck out. Atlanta came up empty.
A small-sample trend: For as dangerous as the Braves’ offense has been this season, the Braves have the third-worst batting average with the bases loaded in the majors. They are 3-for-22 in those spots, with 10 strikeouts. They have drawn five walks in those spots, though.
Could this be something that turns in their favor soon?
“I think it will,” Riley said. “The first few times just haven’t gone our way, whether that’s putting a little bit of pressure on ourselves, whatever it may be. Down the stretch, I expect to get the job done.”
The Braves on Wednesday went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left six men on base.
“We gave ourselves a chance,” Snitker said. “We were one big hit away.”
4. Sometimes, a team must tip its cap.
The Padres, especially third baseman Manny Machado, played incredible defense to keep the Braves off the board.
“They made great plays,” Snitker said. “We were one hit away from being around in that game.”
The Braves’ defense helped keep the deficit at a run. In the fifth inning, Sam Hilliard robbed Machado of a two-run home run after Machado took a hit away from Ronald Acuña Jr. in the top half.
5. In terms of the injured players, McHugh (right shoulder inflammation) might be the closest to returning.
McHugh on Tuesday began a rehab assignment, while Harris (lower back strain), as of Tuesday, was waiting to be cleared to take batting practice. So McHugh is ahead of Harris, and can be activated Friday if the Braves feel he’s ready.
Stat to know
0 - Wednesday’s loss means that no Braves team in Atlanta history has started the season 15-4.
“I think the guys came out of spring training, they’ve played really good baseball, they’ve (shown) a lot of energy, the work has been really good and consistent. I like where we’re at.” - Snitker
After Thursday’s off day, the Braves on Friday will begin a three-game series with the Astros at Truist Park. Bryce Elder will start the opener for Atlanta, and he’ll go up against Houston right-hander Hunter Brown. First pitch is at 7:20 p.m., and the game will be televised on Apple TV+.