Kyle Wright vows to learn from poor start in NLCS Game 3

Credit: Atlanta Braves

Braves starter Kyle Wright discusses poor start in Game 3 of NLCS against Los Angeles Dodgers and how he expects to get past the experience.

Credit: Atlanta Braves

Through the first seven games of this postseason, the Braves' starting pitchers allowed only five runs in 38-2/3 innings.

Kyle Wright allowed more runs than that in the first inning of Game 3 of the National League Championship Series on Wednesday night.

He faced nine Los Angeles Dodgers batters. He got only two of them out. He allowed five hits, including two home runs (on back-to-back pitches) and two doubles. He walked two. He retired none of the last five batters he faced. He exited with the Braves trailing 6-0 and a runner on first base. That runner would score, too, the seventh run charged to Wright.

ExploreAnatomy of Dodgers' 11-run first inning

“They put the pressure on right away, and then from that point on, I was kind of in bad counts the rest of that inning,” Wright said after the game, which the Braves lost 15-3. “They continued to hit my mistakes. I’ve just got to do a much better job of controlling counts and making pitches.”

He entered the game with a postseason ERA of 0.00, having pitched six scoreless innings in a Division Series-clinching win over Miami six days earlier.

He exited the game with a postseason ERA of 9.45.

Everything went wrong for Wright.

“I want to learn from it. If I just push that away, then I’m not going to get any better. So I think for me you’ve got to find a way to be better for the next one,” Wright said. "Whatever I can take from it that is going to help me be better, then I want to do so.

“It kind of comes down to, you can either feel sorry for yourself or find a way to bounce back. … Learning and being better for the next outing is what I’m going to do.”

The Braves had been highly optimistic about Wright’s turn in the rotation Wednesday because of what he’d done in his previous four starts, including the last three of the regular season and his postseason debut in the Division Series. He had pitched six innings or more in each of those four starts, going 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA (five earned runs in 25 innings), striking out 21 and holding opponents to a .159 batting average over that stretch.

But he carried none of that momentum into the first inning against the Dodgers, who led the major leagues in runs scored and home runs this season.

Dodgers first baseman Max Muncy reacts after he hit a grand slam against Braves relief pitcher Grant Dayton to score cap the 11-run first inning in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)
Dodgers first baseman Max Muncy reacts after he hit a grand slam against Braves relief pitcher Grant Dayton to score cap the 11-run first inning in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

“He just really could never get anything going,” manager Brian Snitker said. “It’s one of them days. I mean, you have them. It’s more amplified, I guess, when it’s in this situation. But we’ve seen what he’s capable of. … Obviously, he wanted to go out there and have a great start. It didn’t work out.”

The first Braves reliever, Grant Dayton, fared no better, and by the end of the first inning the Dodgers led 11-0. (Yes, it was reminiscent of the first inning of Game 5 of last year’s Division Series. St. Louis scored 10 first-inning runs against the Braves in that one.) Dayton allowed eight runs on eight hits, including three home runs, in his two innings. The Braves' third reliever, Huascar Ynoa, saved the bullpen by pitching four scoreless one-hit innings in a 92-pitch outing.

The Braves lead the best-of-seven NLCS two-games-to-one. Their pitching plan for Game 4 on Thursday is to start rookie Bryse Wilson. As for who’ll start Game 5, “we’ll just wait and see how we get there,” Snitker said before Wednesday’s game. He reiterated the same after the game.

Wright threw only 28 pitches in Game 3 and said “I’ll be ready for any role, any opportunity” the rest of the series. “I just want to get back out there.”

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