Aaron Nola held the Braves to two runs on six hits over six innings. He hasn’t been his best self this season, but Wednesday showed he’s still capable of frontline-starter outings.
“He always has a great year every time I’ve seen him,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “The guy is one of the elite competitors in the game. He can give up runs and still cover you seven or eight innings. He just never stops pitching, making his pitch. I have a lot of respect for that guy and how he goes about it. The durability, he’s always in late in the game, regardless of what the score is.”
2. Over the past three days, the Phillies hit eight homers and drew 10 walks off Braves pitching. They scored 16 runs on 16 hits. There are very few offenses who can hang with the Braves; the Phillies have one that’s capable. The duo of Zack Wheeler and Nola also fared well. They combined to allow three runs on nine hits over 12 innings, striking out 13 and walking two.
The Braves finished 8-5 against the Phillies, which includes a 3-4 mark at Truist Park. With how the postseason bracket is aligned, these teams could meet again in the NL Division Series. And what a series it could be.
3. Trailing 4-2 in the eighth, the Braves rallied to tie the score. They seemed primed to win in the ninth when catcher Sean Murphy drew a leadoff walk off Craig Kimbrel, and pinch-runner Luke Williams stole second and third. But the inning ended when shortstop Orlando Arcia flew out to Castellanos, who snagged the ball in foul ground and fired a perfect throw home to get Williams.
The Phillies scored twice in the 10th off A.J. Minter. Both runs coming on Bryson Stott’s double that flew past Riley. It was an uncharacteristic outing for Minter, who had recorded seven consecutive scoreless outings. He also walked four Phillies (one intentional).
“Stott has been kind of a nemesis to him, I guess (2-for-5 with a homer),” Snitker said. “He’s going to give up a run every now and then. He’s really, really good. He’s facing really good hitters right there.”
4. Reliever Jesse Chavez entered with two outs in the fourth, his first appearance since taking a comebacker off his shin June 14. He received a hearty ovation from fans. Before he was sidelined for months, Chavez was an instrumental part of the bullpen, even receiving some fan and media support for All-Star consideration. He had a 1.55 ERA in 31 games. He’s also beloved in the clubhouse, as Snitker noted Wednesday when he said Chavez brings “something you can’t quantify.”
Chavez retired Kyle Schwarber on his first pitch. He pitched 2-1/3 scoreless innings, allowing one hit and walking one. If he recaptures his early-season form, Chavez would be a valuable addition to the bullpen. He also gives the Braves another reliever who can cover multiple innings.
“It felt good,” Chavez said. “I was nervous. I didn’t expect (Wednesday’s showing) to go as smooth as that.” He added: “I just want to give myself a chance. I’ve been gone for three months. I want to get myself back on the map and give Snit an opportunity to use me during this postseason run.”
Murphy: “I love having Jesse back. You saw what he did today, 2-1/3 and really efficient. I’m quite happy.”
5. In his past two outings, Elder has surrendered eight earned runs over 8-2/3 innings. He lasted only 3-2/3 frames Wednesday, giving up two homers, walking five and not recording a strikeout. The Braves likely wouldn’t start Elder in the NLDS – because of scheduling, they need only three starters in the best-of-five – but Elder could help in the bullpen, and certainly could factor into the NL Championship Series.
An All-Star, Elder has had an up-and-down second half after being perhaps the team’s best starter before the break. In the first half, Elder allowed four or more runs four times in 18 starts. In the second half, he’s allowed as many runs five times in 12 starts.
“I thought it was just a struggle throughout the whole outing,” Snitker said of Elder’s start Wednesday. “Just one of those days when he got into the fourth inning, and ‘This isn’t going to get any better.’”
Stat to know
48-27 (The Braves are 48-27 with six home games remaining. Even if they won all of those, they’d finish short of last season’s 55-26 home mark. The 2023 Braves, however, have a better road record – 49-28 vs. 46-35 – with four road contests left.)
“We’re just going out and trying to win every game within the confines of – I do want to give a guy a day off here and there. But we’re trying to win every game we can. We’re in the playoffs. We have a bye. Whoever we play doesn’t. I don’t think we had home-field advantage in ‘21 (they did against the Dodgers in the NLCS) and that was OK. You still have to win games regardless of where you’re at. I’d love to have it. It won’t be the end of the world if we don’t.” – Snitker on the Braves trying to earn the No. 1 seed
The Braves begin their final road series of the regular season Thursday in Washington. Max Fried (7-1, 2.64 ERA) will face Jake Irvin (3-6, 4.34) in the opener.