Braves waste scoring chances in NLDS loss to Phillies



The Braves’ inability to take advantage of runners on base, including two bases-loaded situations, contributed to their 7-6 loss to Philadelphia in Game 1 of the National League Division Series at Truist Park on Tuesday.

The Braves left nine runners on base in the game and struggled to produce with two outs after hitting .261 in that situation this season.

Perhaps none of the situations were more important to the defeat than failing to capitalize on loading the bases in the first and third innings against Phillies starter Ranger Suarez, who was stingy in that situation this season, after the Phillies scored two in the top of each inning to take away the crowd and the momentum.

“We had him on the ropes,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “I mean, he was struggling, too, and we just couldn’t get the big hit. We had the deck stacked in our favor three times against him and just ... they got big hits, we didn’t.”

That the Braves couldn’t score even one run with the bases loaded was surprising considering the team’s success this season. It hit .354 in 79 at-bats with an OPS of .968. It had 28 hits, including three home runs, and 86 RBIs.

The first-inning situation was defused when William Contreras, who hit .200 in five at-bats in the regular season with the bases loaded, hit into a double play. Ronald Acuna doubled to lead off the inning. That was followed later by walks to Austin Riley and Matt Olson.

The third-inning situation ended with a strikeout by Travis d’Arnaud, who hit .571 with one home run and 10 RBIs with the bases loaded in the regular season. Acuna walked to lead off the inning. That was followed by a single to left field by Olson and a walk by Contreras.

Suarez has been especially good in bases-loaded situations this season, limiting opponents to a .118 batting average, with five strikeouts.

“He made some good pitches to work out of jams (today),” Olson said.

Those weren’t the only chances wasted by the Braves.

The team left two men on base in the fifth inning. That threat ended with a strikeout by Vaughn Grissom, pinch-hitting for Robbie Grossman with d’Arnaud on third and Orlando Arcia on first.

They also left two men on in the fourth inning. A strikeout by Dansby Swanson ended the inning. Arcia walked to lead off the inning. He was forced out at second by Michael Harris, who was forced out at second by Grossman. Acuna singled to put runners on first and second.

“We had some chances and obviously didn’t capitalize on our opportunities early – or really any of our opportunities,” Swanson said. “Difference in the game was really just two-out hitting. They scored a bunch of runs with two outs, and we didn’t. Pretty simple in the playoffs. It always comes down to pitching, defense and timely hitting, and they won in that department today.”

Snitker said he didn’t feel like the layoff of six days affected the team’s hitting.

“We certainly gave ourselves a chance to do something big there; we just couldn’t get a big hit,” Snitker said.

Snitker was pleased that the team did take advantage of having two on in the bottom of the ninth when Olson hit a three-run homer to cut the Phillies’ lead to one run.

“At that point in time, in a game like that we’re looking for any positives we can,” he said. “And to come back, cut it to a run, with Matt’s homer and all that, that’s good stuff because like I say we have to win three more games. But it’s good to see. They been like for the last few years. It’s never over until it’s over, and (the Braves) keep fighting, and we did again today.”