‘Little things’ cost Braves in one-run loss to Cardinals

Brendan Donovan (33) of the St. Louis Cardinals is tagged out by Matt Olson (28) of the Atlanta Braves in a run down in the third inning at Busch Stadium on Monday, June 24, 2024, in St Louis, Missouri. (Joe Puetz/Getty Images/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Brendan Donovan (33) of the St. Louis Cardinals is tagged out by Matt Olson (28) of the Atlanta Braves in a run down in the third inning at Busch Stadium on Monday, June 24, 2024, in St Louis, Missouri. (Joe Puetz/Getty Images/TNS)

ST. LOUIS – The Braves were in New York, where they won a series in exciting fashion. And during the weekend, they put behind their rough stretch that lasted over a month.

They came to St. Louis, where Monday’s series opener with the Cardinals looked like a game from last month. A lot went wrong.

Despite a ninth-inning rally, the Braves lost 4-3. Five observations:

1. Two views on this loss:

- The Braves fought hard late, which is a positive

- The Braves didn’t do enough early and made mistakes

In reality, there’s room for both. There’s truth in both.

“We just couldn’t get anything going early, that’s the biggest thing,” manager Brian Snitker said. “It was great to get it going late, but just wish – we’d been swinging the bat – we could’ve got something going earlier in the game.”

But down three runs heading to the ninth, the Braves scored twice and had the tying run at second and the go-ahead run at first when Zack Short struck out swinging. They rallied against Cardinals closer Ryan Helsley.

“Those guys are special,” Spencer Schwellenbach said of his offense. “We were down three there in the ninth, and we just know it’s never over. And that kind of fight that we have is special.”

The Braves had some near misses (more later). Schwellenbach had one bad inning. Atlanta had a funky play.

Snitker put it best.

“It was a lot of things, little things, today,” he said. “Wasn’t anything big or nothing like that, just couldn’t get anything to go our way, really.”

2. In the third inning, Schwellenbach had a runner on second with two outs in a scoreless game. He had a man on base in each of the first two innings and escaped.

Not this time.

He allowed four hits in a row and the Cardinals plated three runs. They scored a fourth when they had runners on first and third and the runner at first tried to steal second and got in a rundown long enough to allow his teammate to score from third.

It was 4-0, Cardinals.

“Felt good. One bad inning,” Schwellenbach later said of his start. “One pitch away to three or four guys there with two outs. Just couldn’t seem to make the pitch.”

During that string of hits, Schwellenbach had one batter at 0-2 and another at a full count. He couldn’t put them away. In fairness to him: One of the hits went past a sliding Orlando Arcia at shortstop – a tough play, but one he makes a majority of the time.

The tough play came when a runner tried to steal second and successfully drew a throw from catcher Sean Murphy. It allowed Nolan Gorman to score from third. Gorman hesitated to see if Murphy would throw, then got a great jump toward home when he saw Murphy fire it toward Arcia.

“Yeah, I think they just made a good read, pretty much,” Snitker said. “They did a good job of stopping, and by the time Orlando got the ball, he couldn’t do anything with it – other than get the guy at first.”

Another layer to that play: On an 0-2 count, the four-seam fastball Schwellenbach threw appeared to be a strike on the inside part of the plate. Home plate umpire Alfonso Márquez ruled it a ball.

“Oh, yeah, I thought it was a strike,” Schwellenbach said. “But I mean, it’s kind of tough to make that call when a guy’s stealing and (catcher Sean Murphy) is popping up. But it is what it is, it’s over with now. But would’ve loved to have had it.”

3. In the eighth inning, Atlanta put two men on base and brought up the tying run in Ozzie Albies. Remember when we mentioned the club’s near misses?

This was one of them.

Albies smoked a ball to right-center field, only to see it die at the wall. It would’ve been a home run in 16 ballparks, according to Baseball Savant.

“I threw my hands up thinking he had gotten it,” Austin Riley said.

Snitker also thought it was gone. But instead of tying the game, the Braves got nothing.

In the ninth, the Braves scored once on Ramón Laureano’s flare into right field and again on Travis d’Arnaud’s sacrifice fly – the other near miss for the Braves.

D’Arnaud hit a 100 mph rocket to the right-center field gap. The only issue: The center fielder was shaded toward the gap and made the play for the second out. Had the ball fallen, it would’ve cleared the bases and given Atlanta a lead.

Before that inning, all the Braves got was a solo homer from Riley, who has five home runs, four doubles and 10 RBIs in his last 10 games.

“This is a big park,” Riley said when discussing Albies’ flyout. “Big park and we were right there. One inning got us. We were right there toward the end, and couldn’t get it done.”

4. Arcia didn’t run out to shortstop for the bottom of the sixth inning. Instead, Zack Short replaced him.

Arcia left the game due to dizziness.

“Just probably dehydrated, I guess,” Snitker said. “I don’t know. …I know they gave him some fluids, so we’ll probably put him down tomorrow and let him regroup and see where he’s at.”

Snitker said Arcia will likely get a day off on Tuesday. If he’s unavailable, this would leave Atlanta without two of its position players, as infielder/outfielder Brian Anderson isn’t on the trip because he’s dealing with a lower body bacterial infection.

5. Schwellenbach allowed four runs on eight hits over five innings. Seven of the eight hits were singles.

How did he view that?

“I mean, it’s hard to say that I threw well giving up four runs and eight hits, but seven singles, I think I’m doing my job, where (I’m) throwing strikes,” he said. “Just seemed to not be able to get them out today.”

Stat to know

28-26 - Even after losing on Monday, the Braves still have a 28-26 record at Busch Stadium since it opened in 2006. Atlanta is the only opposing National League team will a winning record here. The Braves have won 13 of their past 17 games in this place.


“A lot of positive there, right there in the eighth and then again in the ninth, of having some good at-bats. I feel like early in the season, we weren’t really doing that, and now we are. Just that one inning and we fought until the end, and just couldn’t come out on top.

Up next

On Tuesday, Reynaldo López will face the Cardinals, who’ll send right-hander Kyle Gibson to the mound. First pitch is at 7:45 p.m.