Kyle Wright spins a gem as Braves beat Reds

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Kyle Wright (30) pitches during a game against Cincinnati Reds at Truist Park on Saturday, April 9, 2022, in Atlanta.  Branden Camp/For the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Kyle Wright (30) pitches during a game against Cincinnati Reds at Truist Park on Saturday, April 9, 2022, in Atlanta. Branden Camp/For the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Kyle Wright felt like he rediscovered his confidence last season. It’s clear he did.

He spun a gem as the Braves beat the Reds, 2-1, on Saturday at Truist Park.

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Here are five observations from the game.

1. This was easily one of the best starts of Wright’s career. He threw six shutout innings against the Reds, allowing only two hits. He struck out six and walked one.

His other top starts are:

  • Game 3 of the 2020 NLDS, when he shut out the Marlins over six innings in his postseason debut
  • Game 4 of the World Series, when he held Houston to a run over 4 2/3 frames
  • A regular-season start in 2020 when he tossed 6 1/3 scoreless innings versus the Mets

The dominant start is meaningful for both Wright and the Braves.

“It’s one thing to say you feel confident, get it back,” Wright said. “But then to actually do it in a regular-season game. I felt like myself, felt under control.”

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2. Last season, Wright began throwing more curveballs. That is his best pitch, and he felt it helped him gain some momentum in the second half of his season.

He carried that into Saturday, when he threw 31 curveballs out of 76 pitches. He struck out four batters – including one of the game’s best hitters, Joey Votto – with that pitch. Wright’s curveball produced 18 whiffs and four called strikes.

“It’s a pitch I can rely on,” Wright said. “I’ve always felt that that’s my best pitch, and I think it’s just using it. I feel like I did a good job of using it early in the count to steal a strike, then to put guys away with it, too. It’s a pitch I’m going to continue to rely on and have a lot of confidence with.”

3. When the question came, Matt Olson smiled.

Has he ever been thrown out at home plate twice in the same game?

“No, I don’t think so,” he said with a chuckle. “If anybody wrote in the scouting report from Oakland that I was fast, they lied.”

In fairness to Olson, he found himself on the unfortunate end of two terrific plays.

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Atlanta Braves first baseman Matt Olson (28) is thrown out at the plate to end the seventh inning during the game with the Cincinnati Reds at Truist Park Saturday, April 9, 2022 (Steve Schaefer / steve.schaefer@ajc.com)

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Atlanta Braves first baseman Matt Olson (28) is thrown out at the plate to end the seventh inning during the game with the Cincinnati Reds at Truist Park Saturday, April 9, 2022 (Steve Schaefer / steve.schaefer@ajc.com)

Credit: Steve Schaefer

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Atlanta Braves first baseman Matt Olson (28) is thrown out at the plate to end the seventh inning during the game with the Cincinnati Reds at Truist Park Saturday, April 9, 2022 (Steve Schaefer / steve.schaefer@ajc.com)

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

In the third inning, the Reds used a nice relay to cut him down. In the seventh, outfielder Aristides Aquino made a 101.6-mph throw (per Statcast) to nab Olson. The throw, per MLB.com, marked the sixth-hardest outfield assist since 2015.

The worst part for Olson: Travis d’Arnaud was giving him running tips.

“I don’t know if that’s good when the catcher is talking to you,” Olson said.

4. Marcell Ozuna went 3-for-4, with two doubles, and drove in a run on Saturday.

“He came into spring training and the hard work that he put in was really good,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “He was very dedicated to getting himself back. It’s good to see him swinging the bat like he is right now, because we know what he can do. He’s one of those types of guys that can carry you for a period when he gets hot.”

5. Snitker said the Braves’ bullpen is in good shape for Sunday’s day game. Another positive: Backup catcher Manny Piña (sore wrist) was available Saturday if needed, and is good to go moving forward.

Braves 2, Reds 1

Stats to know

3 and 111 - This season, the Braves only needed three games to eclipse .500, something they didn’t achieve until the 111th game of 2021.

Quotable

“It’s great. It’s what you were looking for, what you knew he was capable of. What he’s capable of and going out and doing it are two different things. A lot of credit to him for how he’s approached this whole spring.” - Snitker on watching Wright succeed

Up next

Braves right-hander Ian Anderson will face Reds righty Hunter Greene, who will make his MLB debut in the series finale on Sunday at 1:35 p.m.