Back and forth, back and forth.

One punched, the other countered. Then one of the teams threw another punch.

This series at Truist Park between the Padres and Braves – two of baseball’s best clubs – has been highly entertaining. And there are still two games left here.

A night after a walk-off win, the Braves lost 5-4 to the Padres Friday. Atlanta is 6-2.

Here are five observations:

1. At one point, Ozzie Albies dove to stop a ball, then couldn’t get it out of his glove, and a run scored after his throw was late. At another, Xander Bogaerts’ check-swing resulted in a run-scoring single. At a third, Eddie Rosario pulled a would-be grand slam just foul.

Little things separate these games.

“One-hundred percent,” Albies said. “One good swing to put the ball in play can change the whole game. We saw it tonight, multiple times. Each team had opportunities. That’s part of the game.”

Added Braves manager Brian Snitker: “It’s usually going to be a play here or there. Somebody’s going to get a big hit, somebody’s not.”

The Braves went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position. They left 10 men on base.

That hurts in a one-run loss.

In the fifth, Rosario struck out swinging with the bases loaded after almost hitting a grand slam. In the seventh, Rosario popped out with the bases loaded. In the ninth, facing San Diego closer Josh Hader, Sean Murphy grounded into a force out to end the game.

“We had our deck stacked a couple times,” Snitker said. “Just couldn’t get a big hit tonight.”

Then there’s the Albies play: He said the ball almost went through his webbing, so he had to punch his glove to grab the ball before making the throw.

“So I was (mad) at my glove,” Albies said.

Atlanta Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies (1) reacts after a play in the second inning Friday, April 7, 2023 at Truist Park in Atlanta. (Daniel Varnado / For the AJC)

Credit: Daniel Varnado

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Credit: Daniel Varnado

2. Jared Shuster’s second big-league opportunity somewhat resembled the first. The opponent pounced on him early and made him work. Then he settled in a bit and found his footing.

“It’s not going to be perfect, it’s not going to be easy,” Snitker said. “I told him, ‘You’re pulling the layers off.’ But he kept us in the game, gave us a chance. Didn’t go probably like he wanted it again, but you know what, this isn’t easy. You just got to keep fighting through it, keep pitching and trust your stuff. He’ll be fine.”

Shuster allowed four runs on six hits over four innings. He struck out four batters, but walked four. The Braves could’ve won despite this, but his short and mediocre start didn’t help.

This spring, Shuster attacked. He filled up the strike zone.

Through two big-league starts, he’s issued nine walks over 8 2/3 innings.

“I think just nitpicking and just kind of beating myself,” Shuster said. “During spring, I was attacking more and getting ahead in counts. You fall behind against these good hitters, you get in a little trouble. The biggest thing is just staying in my mechanics, trusting my stuff in the zone.”

3. In the first inning, with one out, Shuster walked a batter before allowing a single and a double that scored a run. With two outs, he walked two more batters to plate another run.

In the second inning, the Albies play helped San Diego score another run.

Shuster responded well and didn’t allow another run until he was charged with one after exiting the game in the fifth.

4. It has not felt like April. These two are trading blows like it’s October.

We could very well see them meet then.

“It’s two good teams going at it,” Snitker said of this series. “That’s a dangerous, dangerous lineup, and I’m sure they feel the same on their side. It’s usually going to be a play here or there. Somebody’s going to get a big hit, somebody’s not.”

Added Bogaerts, San Diego’s shortstop: “It was really intense. Especially since it’s so close — we have the lead, they have the lead, we get the lead. You have two games that are really, really close. And that’s what kind of gets adrenaline going, especially when you’re early in the season knowing that this is one of the best teams in the National League.”

5. Down 3-0 early, the Braves scored three runs in the third.

Marcell Ozuna homered, Austin Riley hit a run-scoring single and Matt Olson scored on a wild pitch.

San Diego scored in the top of the fifth. The Braves answered in the bottom half.

The deciding blow: In the sixth, Bogaerts checked his swing and the ball went into right field to score a run.

Stat to know

2 - Friday’s loss marked the second time this season the Braves didn’t lead at all in a game, from start to finish.


“It’s one of those nights where you try to do your best and it didn’t go in your favor. You got to turn the page, and tomorrow’s a new day.”-Albies

Up next

On Saturday, Charlie Morton will go up against San Diego right-hander Michael Wacha in a game that begins at 7:20 p.m.