Right-hander Huascar Ynoa, who’d been so outstanding for the Braves, never found his footing Saturday afternoon. None of the other Braves did, either, and the team was rolled in a 13-4 loss to the Cubs in Chicago.
The Cubs took out weeks of offensive frustration on Braves pitchers. Willson Contreras homered off Ynoa twice. Javier Baez was responsible for the first big blow, belting a three-run shot in the third inning that built a 6-0 lead.
Chicago was averaging around five hits per game entering the day. They had 14 hits Saturday, including six home runs.
“That’s still a really good lineup,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “They’re not hitting on all cylinders early. We’re not either, quite honestly. They have a bunch of guys over there who have done it before, and I know, talking to (Cubs manager) David (Ross) and all, it’s been a rough go for them, too, starting out. But they’re capable of that. You better make pitches because they’re the kind of team that will hurt you if you don’t.”
Ynoa entered with a 0.75 ERA. He allowed one run over his first three appearances (12 innings). The Cubs tagged him for six runs on seven hits in four innings, forcing the Braves into their bullpen early.
“He didn’t get his change-up going,” Snitker said. “Two-pitch pitcher as a starter, they can kind of narrow you down. Didn’t matter how hard he was throwing. He just wasn’t getting anything established.”
The Braves’ middle relievers couldn’t stop the bleeding. Lefty Jesse Biddle, who recently rejoined the organization and was promoted Saturday, started the fifth inning. He ultimately was charged with four runs, including a two-run shot by Kris Bryant. Biddle recorded only one out.
Jacob Webb followed Biddle and inherited two base runners. Four pitches later, David Bote smashed a three-run homer. An inning later, Bryant hit his second homer of the game, hammering a two-run shot off Webb that made the score 13-1.
The defeat snapped a two-game win streak for the Braves, whose record fell to 6-9. The Braves’ offense didn’t have an answer for Cubs starter Trevor Williams, who held them to one run over five innings. It was the first time since Tuesday’s lineup change that the Braves were held to under five runs.
One bit of good news: Infielder Sean Kazmar played in his first game since 2008. Kazmar, 36, was promoted to the majors Saturday. He pinch-hit in the fifth inning, seeing four pitches and hitting into a double play. But he completed his return to the majors 12 years and 206 days after his most recent appearance Sept. 23, 2008.
“What an amazing feeling,” said Kazmar, whose wife and mother caught a red-eye flight Friday night to attend the game. “Obviously, it wasn’t the outcome we were looking for. A win would’ve been nice. But what a feeling. Just last night when Snit told me, and waking up and getting that opportunity early in the game was awesome. Amazing feeling. I’m glad to be here, and hopefully I’ll stick around a little longer.”
Ronald Acuna went 2-for-4 with a walk and scored two runs. Acuna preserved his hitting streak and run scoring streak, both of which stand at nine games.
The Braves and Cubs finish their series Sunday night. Newly recalled Bryse Wilson will make his first start for the Braves against Kyle Hendricks.
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