The Braves settled for a series split with Thursday’s 4-1 loss to the Phillies at Truist Park. Atlanta is 21-24.
Here are five observations:
1. After striking out in the seventh inning, William Contreras smashed his bat into the ground and shattered it.
This was a fitting scene.
Aaron Nola frustrated the Braves as he pitched into the ninth. He was charged with a run, but fell two outs shy of a complete game. He struck out 10 and allowed five hits.
“You know facing Nola: If he’s on, man, he’s rough,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “He knows what he’s doing, he can locate, he can speed you up, slow you down, the whole thing.”
The Braves didn’t have many opportunities to score. In the third, they put runners on the corners with two outs before a strikeout ended the inning. Matt Olson doubled twice and scored their only run on a wild pitch in the ninth, but the Braves’ offense was quiet throughout this game.
“Tonight, he was painting his pitches,” Ozzie Albies said. “When he’s painting pitches, it makes it tough to hit.
“He was dealing tonight.”
2. Kyle Wright had cruised after the third inning, but ran into more trouble in the seventh. He got two quick outs, then walked one batter and hit another.
With the right-hander at 92 pitches, Snitker decided to pull him in favor of left-hander Will Smith to face left-handed hitting Odubel Herrera.
With men on first and second, Smith hung a 78-mph slider toward the top of the zone and Herrera hit a two-run double. It gave the Phillies a three-run lead.
“Just didn’t locate real good. It happens,” Snitker said. “And he’s a good hitter, too. He’s rough on a lot of people. Just a situation right there where Kyle was in the game and late in his outing and everything, there wasn’t any reason to push him any more, I didn’t think.”
Herrera has had success against Smith in his career. He’s 6-for-9 with a double and three RBIs versus Smith.
Herrera has also fared well against A.J. Minter, who is the other lefty the Braves could’ve used in that situation. Herrera is 3-for-7 with two doubles versus Minter.
“I had no problem bringing Will in on him,” Snitker said. “Got a lot of confidence in Will making pitches and getting him out.”
3. Between the third and seventh innings, Wright retired 13 in a row. He was eventually charged with three runs over 6 2/3, but let’s be clear: He pitched much better than that, and deserved a better outcome.
Wright, who has a 2.68 ERA, has pitched at least six innings in six of his nine starts this year. In a career that dates back to 2018, he had only lasted at least six innings six times before this season (including the postseason).
“This is me,” Wright said. “I feel like this is who I was before I kind of had all the struggles. Now it’s just about continuing to stay consistent.”
He has remained consistent. His improvement doesn’t appear to be a fluke.
“That’s the goal,” Wright said. “I’m a starting pitcher, so I want to get as deep in the game as I can and hold the opponent to as few runs as possible. The more times I can do that, the more chances we’re going to have an opportunity to win.”
Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@
Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@
4. The Braves still have not won three games in a row. They are one of three teams in the majors without a three-game winning streak, joining Pittsburgh and Washington.
“Just hasn’t been as consistent enough yet,” Wright said. “I feel like it’s coming. This team’s too good not to go on a stretch, go on a run. We’re just scuffling a little bit after getting those two, but I still believe in this team wholeheartedly. We got too much talent to not go on a run at some point.”
On the flip side, the Braves are one of only three teams without a three-game losing streak.
5. Already up a run, the Phillies loaded the bases on Wright in the third inning. This seemed like a time that the Wright of previous years would have spiraled.
He struck out a batter, then got Bryce Harper – who had a tremendous series – to ground into an inning-ending double play. The game could’ve gotten away, but Wright, as he has all season, displayed his progress.
Stat to know
15 of 37 - Before Thursday, the Braves’ bullpen had allowed 15 of 37 inherited runners to score this month.
“No reason. It’s baseball. We can’t do anything about it. We go out there, we play hard, to win. We don’t play to lose. Nobody goes and plays to lose. We just came on the losing side tonight.” - Albies on the Braves not having a three-game winning streak yet
Atlanta right-hander Ian Anderson begins the Miami series by facing left-hander Trevor Rogers. Friday’s game begins at 7:20 p.m.