The Braves entered the postseason on the wave of perhaps the best regular season in franchise history. If ever there were a group destined to be World Series champions, it would be this one. These Braves excel in every area.

The Braves lost to the Phillies, 3-0, in Game 1 of the best-of-five NLDS Saturday night at Truist Park.

Five observations:

1. It happened again. The Braves will, once again, play from behind in this series.

A year ago, the Phillies stole Game 1 at Truist by jumping on Max Fried, who had been ill and wasn’t at his best. They had a five-run lead at one point.

This was worse.

On Saturday, the Braves were shut out at home for the first time since Aug. 28, 2021. In the regular season, these Braves were only shut out twice.

“They capitalized on opportunities and we didn’t,” Austin Riley said.

The Braves’ pitchers only allowed three runs. Considering they are backed by one of the best offenses in history, that should be enough for a victory.

“Put us in a positon to win,” Sean Murphy said, “but we didn’t get the hits we needed.”

This Game 1 loss means Game 2 is almost certainly a must-win contest. Games 3 and 4 are at Citizens Bank Park, which is a difficult environment. Last season, the Braves lost both NLDS games there.

If they lose Monday’s Game 2, their fans might not see them again this season.

“I don’t think it’s a missed opportunity,” Strider said of Saturday’s loss. “Obviously, we want to win the first game of the series – playing at home, full stadium, phenomenal crowd. That was a great environment. It sucks to lose at home. We feel like that’s a place where we have the advantage. But you know what? Get a day off tomorrow, then come back, play another one and try to even it up. Fortunately, we’re familiar with playing in Philadelphia, so I like our chances. Losing the first one sucks, but we’re gonna be in good shape.”

2. The story here is actually quite simple: The Braves were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. They left seven men on base.

There’s your game.

“I think there was three times in the game I felt like we had a chance to pierce the gap and get something going,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.

In the fourth inning, Michael Harris II struck out with the bases loaded. In the fifth, Atlanta had runners on the corners before Ronald Acuña Jr. and Riley struck out to end the inning. The Braves left a man on base in the sixth.

A killer came in the eighth, when Ozzie Albies smoked a ball destined to score a run, only to see Trea Turner dive, stop it, and flip to second fast enough for his teammate to turn and throw to first for an inning-ending double play.

“Great play,” Murphy said. “Yeah, would’ve been nice to get a hit there.”

3. When describing his outing, Strider said he felt he made a lot of good pitches. He felt he entered with a good game plan. He thought the defense made plays behind him.

Eventually, he mentioned an errant pick-off attempt. It allowed a runner to advance to second base and eventually score.

“Unfortunately, that was all that they needed,” Strider said. “Scoring first is huge, so I hate that I deprived us of that opportunity.”

He allowed two runs over seven innings. He struck out eight. He pitched well. He served up a homer to Bryce Harper, but it came on an executed slider at the bottom of the zone.

“He’s one of the best in the game, if not the best right now,” Harper said of Strider.

“Typical Strider stuff,” Olson said.

Strider pitched well enough for the Braves to win. They should’ve backed his effort with run support.

You can question whether Strider should’ve tried to attempt a pick-off in that third inning. He had Bryson Stott at an 0-2 count. Harper was at first. But Strider had been working on pick-offs and controlling the running game, and Harper had taken off on the pitch before.

“It’s such a minute thing, picking off,” Strider said. “But of course, you screw it up and it can become such a big deal.”

Braves fans threw trash on the field after a questionable call on Sean Murphy. After the Game 1 loss, manager Brian Snitker said there's no excuse for that.

4. After Strider’s night ended, cameras caught Strider having an emotional conversation with pitching coach Rick Kranitz.

Asked about it, Strider said: “I mean, you have emotion when you speak sometimes. Could’ve been talking about anything.”

He later added: “I’m just having a personal conversation with him. Unfortunately for me, sometimes my conversations are on camera and I’m guilty of showing emotion when I speak at times. I was just having a conversation with Kranny. Some of it wasn’t even about baseball, so.”

Strider later clarified, through a team spokesman, that his conversation with Kranitz didn’t have anything to do with him being pulled after seven innings. He said there’s no bad blood between him and Kranitz.

But it would be understandable if Strider wanted to stay in the game. He’s a competitor.

“Every time he came out of the game (this season), most of the time, he yelled at me that he wanted to stay,” Snitker said. “He said, ‘I’m good. I’m good.’ He did his job. He did a great job. There wasn’t any reason to continue to push him. The adrenaline gets going, guys are competitors, I wouldn’t expect him just to come in, in a game like that, and want to come out of the game. … A spur-of-the-moment thing. He’s coming off with a lot of adrenaline going on. It’s hard to contain that sometimes, which is awesome. It’s what makes this kid great.”

5. Sunday’s off day allowed the Phillies to be aggressive with their bullpen.

They were.

Ranger Suarez held the Braves scoreless over the first 3 2/3 innings, but Philly manager Rob Thomson pulled him in a big spot. The Phillies eventually used seven pitchers in the game, tied for their most ever in a postseason game.

Most of the relievers used flashed nasty stuff.

“I wouldn’t call it a fluke,” Strider said of Philadelphia shutting down the Braves. “They pitched really well. That’s just postseason baseball.”

Stat to know

1 - In the eighth inning, Murphy was called for a catcher’s interference, which allowed Philadelphia’s third run to score. This was the first catcher’s interference committed by a Braves catcher in the postseason in franchise history.


“You try to evaluate things and see what you can improve on and try to make adjustments. I think the biggest thing is we just got to come in tomorrow and do our work, and not try to put too much pressure on ourselves. I think that can happen in big situations, big moments in the playoffs. I trust every single guy in this clubhouse. Obviously, it’s one game. Still got a few more to get back in this thing.” - Riley

Up next

On Monday, the aces will duel one another as Max Fried faces Zack Wheeler at Truist Park. First pitch is at 6:07 p.m.