Atlanta defeated the Reds, 7-6, at Great American Ball Park. The teams will play for the series on Sunday.
Here are five observations from the Braves’ win:
1. After Friday’s loss, Braves manager Brian Snitker pointed to the root cause: His club couldn’t register any zeroes in the middle innings. The Reds scored and scored, and scored some more.
It is funny how the baseball gods seem to set up similar scenarios.
In the fourth inning on Saturday, Snitker went out to pull Jared Shuster. He opted for right-hander Michael Tonkin, the bullpen’s length guy, to protect the club’s two-run lead.
Tonkin knew his job: Get to the seventh.
“I don’t know if it’s more fun (knowing that) or you got to kind of lock it in a little bit more,” Tonkin said. “It’s part of the job. You just try to get one guy out at a time and keep going, try not to think too far ahead.”
Tonkin tossed 2 1/3 hitless innings to get Atlanta to the seventh. He walked two batters and struck out two.
Atlanta’s offense didn’t score during Tonkin’s appearance, which made his stellar outing imperative.
And his story – being out of the majors since 2017 before this season – continues to get better.
“It’s incredible,” catcher Travis d’Arnaud said. “It’s giving me the goosebumps right now. For him to come up big for us today as well, and the path that he had, it just shows the heart and the love that he has for this game.”
2. As the game headed to the bottom of the seventh, the bullpen door swung open again.
Nick Anderson jogged out.
Due up for the Reds: The top of the order. The Braves led by three. This could’ve been a turning point.
Instead, Anderson hurled a scoreless inning. He worked around a hit to do so. He has a 3.16 ERA over 31 1/3 innings for Atlanta.
The key to getting outs against Cincinnati’s hot lineup?
“Honestly just the same as everybody else: Make your pitches,” Anderson said. “Kind of move the ball around a little bit and just kind of make your pitches, and a little bit of hope for the best. You can’t be perfect, but I think if you just try to focus on executing your pitches, I’d say more times than not it works out in your favor versus the hitter.”
3. We can’t forget this: The relievers’ zeroes, while impressive, would’ve been meaningless had the offense not held up its end.
But these are the Braves, owners of MLB’s top offense – at least according to many important statistical categories. They can strike from one through nine.
On Saturday, the Braves homered four times. One came from Matt Olson, who gave Atlanta a four-run lead with a two-run shot in the fourth inning after the Reds almost clawed all the way back in the third. This was Olson’s 200th career homer – though he didn’t gush about it.
“There’s no doubt that that’s a part of our game here,” Olson said of the Braves hitting home runs. “I don’t think we live and die by it, by any means. I think we can win other ways, but it’s part of our game for sure. When balls are starting to go, it’s normally a decent sign for us as a squad.”
4. In the ninth inning, Raisel Iglesias served up back-to-back, one-out home runs. Suddenly, the Braves’ lead was down to a run.
Iglesias got the final two outs to end the game.
But the runs he allowed made Marcell Ozuna’s seventh-inning solo home run that much more important. Ozuna gave the Braves a three-run lead at the time.
They won by a run.
The Reds proved they were never out of it. In that way, they’ve played like the Braves.
“You never feel good,” Snitker said. “That club there, man, they get after it, they battle. It’s good. It makes for really good baseball, which we’ve had two really cool games the last two days.”
5. During their 12-game winning streak, the Reds had seven comeback victories.
A.J. Minter is one of the reasons those numbers are not 13 and eight. He struck out two batters in a clean eighth.
Since May 27, Minter has allowed one run on two hits over 12 2/3 innings. He has 16 strikeouts and one walk in that span.
Stat to know
1 - All five Braves-Reds games in the season series have been decided by a run.
“I told (bench coach) Walt (Weiss): I feel like here, like Coors Field, I never feel safe. I don’t feel safe with a lead, I don’t feel like we’re ever out of it with a deficit. Somebody can pop one up and it leaves. You never feel good until it’s over, and hopefully you win.” - Snitker on the two crazy games at Great American Ball Park
Charlie Morton will start Sunday’s series finale, which begins at 1:40 p.m.