DENVER – The Braves won another pitchers’ duel at Coors Field, this time beating the Rockies, 6-2, in 11 innings. Atlanta, which scored four runs in the final inning, has won four in a row.
Here are five observations on the Braves (27-27):
1. The team that had not won in extra innings entering this series has now won consecutive extra-innings contests.
In their latest such victory, the Braves showed resolve. After the Rockies tied the game with a run in the bottom of the 10th, the Braves – playing in front of a crowd of 41,054 at Coors Field – scored four runs in the top of the 11th.
With two outs, Marcell Ozuna and William Contreras smoked back-to-back, run-scoring doubles. Then Adam Duvall, who has had a rough season at the plate, crushed a two-run homer.
Once again, the Braves left with a win that felt extra good.
“We continue to battle, and that’s a good sign for us,” Austin Riley said. “Late in the games, not giving up, continuing to put together good at-bats.”
2. The Braves’ bullpen deserves major credit for this victory.
After Spencer Strider went four innings, Jesse Chavez (two innings), Collin McHugh (1 2/3), Will Smith (1/3), Darren O’Day (one), A.J. Minter (one) and Jackson Stephens (one) only allowed a run over the final seven innings.
And they did it at Coors Field, a notoriously difficult ballpark for pitchers.
“You know that when you come here, pitching is never going to be easy,” McHugh said. “For me, I was telling some of the guys it kind of focuses you in a little bit more. Got to be a little bit more precise to certain lanes when you’re pitching. If we’re throwing the ball like we did today, I’m always going to give ourselves a better chance of winning, coming off on the right side.”
The bullpen displayed its depth and versatility. McHugh pitched multiple innings, while O’Day, usually not in high-leverage situations, tossed a scoreless ninth to send the game to extras. Minter pitched in the 10th and got three ground balls, one of which happened to find outfield grass.
“Going into the season, we knew this bullpen was going to be special,” Minter said. “With the guys being injured this year, a lot of guys have stepped up to the plate, and those guys have done so. Any guy can come in there and throw the fifth inning or throw the ninth inning.”
3. Duvall did not try to play off the satisfaction of his home run in the 11th.
“Oh man,” he said. “I’ve hit quite a few homers, and that was one of the better ones, just because the length of time that I’ve gone without one. And I’m not really used to that. That one felt good.”
He has hit 154 homers in his career, and three this season. Before Saturday, he last hit one on May 8.
The Braves’ only run through the first nine innings came on Austin Riley’s 435-foot home run in the sixth inning. Before the blast, which tied the game, Atlanta had only scored three runs in its last 15 innings.
4. Days ago, the Braves lost in heartbreaking fashion in Arizona, as they blew a four-run lead. They have completely turned around their week, and haven’t lost since.
They won the final game against the Diamondbacks and the first three here. They are .500 for the first time since April 16.
They followed one of the season’s worst losses with their best stretch to this point in the year.
“We know we can play this game against anybody,” Riley said. “It’s just a matter of taking care of business. I think the biggest thing that I’ve noticed the last couple days is just guys are playing their game, they’re not trying to do too much and I think that goes a long way with how good this team is.”
5. If you didn’t watch this game, it may be difficult to understand just how amazing it was that Strider only allowed a run.
He struggled with command for his entire outing. He walked five batters and threw two wild pitches, the second of which allowed a run to score. Of 87 pitches, he only threw 45 strikes.
But the Braves will probably take four innings of one-run baseball from their No. 5 starter, especially when they haven’t gotten much out of that spot this season. Strider only allowed two hits and, despite his command issues, still struck out five.
Braves 6, Rockies 2
Stat to know
3 - The Braves’ pitching staff held the Rockies to three hits.
“We’ve got a lot of veterans in here that had been in different places as far as the season goes, as far as winning and losing and having to deal with tough times and deal with good times. But like I’ve always said, it’s just about showing up, putting your best foot forward, getting the work in, preparing for that game, doing your best to execute and try to win the game.”-Duvall on the Braves winning four in a row
Charlie Morton faces Colorado’s Ryan Feltner in Sunday’s series finale, which begins at 2:10 p.m. ET.
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Credit: Steve Schaefer/AJC