The Braves rarely see a knuckleball – and it showed. The pitch stymied them as their offense had another quiet performance.

Atlanta also suffered a scare: Catcher Travis d’Arnaud exited the game after taking a foul ball off of his mask.

The Braves lost to the Padres, 3-1, on Friday at Truist Park.

Five observations:

1. The Padres’ Matt Waldron throws a knuckleball – a rarity in the game. He is the only primary pitcher in baseball (so, not including position players) who throws a knuckleball.

The Braves knew they would see it.

They just couldn’t hit it often enough.

How do you approach facing a guy who throws a knuckleball?

“I don’t know,” Marcell Ozuna said. “I don’t know how to approach him because I never face a knuckleball guy. This is my second one. That guy was unbelievable. It would break everywhere. I couldn’t (track) where I’m going to swing. I was just swinging out of control a little bit and trying to get (it) on the barrel, but I couldn’t. The third at-bat was a good pitch to hit, but otherwise, nothing to hit.”

Waldron struck out a career-high 10 batters over 5 2/3 innings of one-run baseball. The Braves scored their only run off of him in the first inning. They collected five hits against him, but only two after the first inning.

“That’s a good question,” Matt Olson said when asked how to approach a knuckleballer when you never see one.

Then he added: “Especially a guy like that who, if didn’t have his knuckleball, he’s got pretty normal stuff as well. So it’s not like he’s up there throwing an 80 mph fastball and 80 percent knuckleballs. Not something you typically see. A little different, and go up there and do what you can to put the bat on it.”

Waldron threw four other pitches, including a four-seam fastball that averaged 91.6 mph. The Braves averaged an 86 mph exit velocity on six balls in play versus the knuckleball.

2. The Braves eventually struck out 18 times. Eight-teen. Of them, 14 were swinging strikeouts.

The Braves hadn’t struck out this much since Aug. 7, 2022, when they had 19 strikeouts.

It didn’t help that the Braves went from Waldron to a couple of high-powered relievers. The Padres’ final three relievers averaged at least 96 mph on their fastballs.

“(Seeing a knuckleball before that) makes it play up even more than it already is,” Olson said of the velocity. “I’m sure that’s a strategy they use.”

Before the Braves did it, Oakland and Philadelphia were the only clubs to strike out at least 18 times in a game.

The Braves had chances to swing this game, but they went 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position, including Michael Harris II striking out against closer Robert Suarez with two outs in the eighth inning and runners on second and third.

The reason the Braves stayed within striking distance: The Padres went 2-for-10 with men in scoring position.

3. In the top of the fifth inning, Luis Arraez fouled a ball off of d’Arnaud’s mask. He caught the rest of that inning, but Chadwick Tromp replaced him for the sixth.

The Braves ruled out a concussion after d’Arnaud exited, but symptoms could theoretically develop as time passes. Braves manager Brian Snitker said d’Arnaud has a head contusion.

“With his history, I think you’re always concerned,” he said. “We’ll see what it looks like in the morning, or tomorrow, after he sleeps on it.”

D’Arnaud has had four concussions in his career. His teammates – Tromp, Ozuna and Olson – seemed encouraged by talking to him.

Olson said d’Arnaud didn’t seem as bad as last year, when he suffered a concussion and missed a month.

“Just initial reaction and seeing the way he was shaken up last year, I’m no doctor, but it looked a lot worse,” Olson said. “So, hopefully good news.”

The Braves don’t know whether d’Arnaud will land on the seven-day injured list, which is for players who show concussion symptoms.

4. After d’Arnaud took a ball off his mask, the Padres got to Fried. He gave up four hits – two that scored runs – and issued a walk before Snitker lifted him at 88 pitches.

The Padres took a 3-1 lead in that inning.

Fried allowed the three runs on nine hits – all singles – over 4 1/3 innings.

If he could’ve done something differently in the outing?

“I probably would’ve tried to throw maybe a little bit more off-speed,” Fried said. “They did a really good job of battling and fighting off a lot of fastballs, and staying inside the ball. Unfortunately, some balls just found holes and went into the outfield. But they put together really good at-bats. Maybe just throwing a couple more wrinkles in there, see if I can keep them off balance a little bit more.”

5. Some good news: Catcher Sean Murphy (left oblique strain) will probably begin his rehab assignment on Tuesday, Snitker said.

For now, the Braves will pray d’Arnaud is OK.

Stat to know

13 - The Braves gave up 13 hits, but all were singles. The last time a team collected 13 hits without having an extra-base hit: The Reds on Aug. 31, 2022 – they hit 14 singles.


“What he brings every single day, on the field and especially off, rubs off on a lot of guys. He’s a big leader in that clubhouse for a reason.” - Fried on d’Arnaud

Up next

On Saturday, Bryce Elder will face San Diego right-hander Yu Darvish. The game, which will air on FOX, begins at 7:15 p.m.