The Braves’ bats went quiet in a 2-1 loss to the Phillies Saturday at Truist Park.
1. Atlanta’s lone run came in the bottom of the ninth inning, a solo homer by catcher Sean Murphy, but it wasn’t enough to make up for an overall underwhelming day on offense. The Braves (31-21) tallied four hits to the Phillies’ nine.
Zack Wheeler pitched a superb game for the Phillies (25-27), striking out 12 and walking one in eight innings (closer Craig Kimbrel surrendered that one run to Murphy).
2. Although the Braves’ bullpen has struggled lately, relievers A.J. Minter, Kirby Yates, Jesse Chavez and Joe Jiménez combined to toss 3 ⅔ scoreless innings, with Yates and Jiménez giving up one hit each.
“... Those guys all kept the game manageable and doable, and we got within one,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of the bullpen. “Just couldn’t get a big hit. We didn’t really, Wheeler didn’t really kind of give us a chance to even get anything going. Because he was so good.”
3. Braves starter Charlie Morton churned through four scoreless innings before running into some trouble in the fifth, which began with a leadoff single by center fielder Brandon Marsh.
First baseman Kody Clemens snuck a double down the first-base line, with a sacrifice fly by second baseman Bryson Stott scoring Marsh, and an RBI double by shortstop Trea Turner (again down the first-base line) scoring Clemens. After intentionally walking designated hitter Bryce Harper and another walk for left fielder Kyle Schwarber, the Phillies had the bases loaded, though catcher J.T. Realmuto flied out to center field to end the inning with the Braves trailing 2-0.
After giving up singles to third baseman Alec Bohm and Clemens in the top of the sixth, Morton was pulled in favor of Minter, who retired the inning via ground-out by Turner.
Morton gave up two earned runs on seven hits, walking four and striking out nine in 5 ⅓ innings pitched, and came away disappointed with his outing.
“It’s not just giving up runs,” Morton said. “It’s a day where I think that they needed me to go a little bit deeper in the game than 5 ⅓. And too, knowing that today my stuff was pretty good. To know that I was in a better spot than to just work into the sixth inning and get pulled after an out in the sixth, with two guys on. … It’s just one of those games where, I’m frustrated by it. It wasn’t necessarily one particular thing.”
“... To be able to go deeper in the game would have been a lot more fulfilling than what just happened. But Zack threw the heck out of the ball. To match him right there, it’s tough.”
Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
4. Even with starters Max Fried and Kyle Wright relegated to the injured list, the Braves’ rotation has navigated through injury issues relatively well so far – that being said, it’d be great to get a boost. And it seems like one could be on the way.
On Saturday, the Braves optioned Dylan Dodd to Triple-A Gwinnett following Friday’s game against the Phillies. In a corresponding move, they recalled right-handed pitcher Dereck Rodríguez. But it could pave the way for Michael Soroka’s return. Soroka is battling back from two torn Achilles tendon injuries, and Morton called attention to the difficult path back and how unique a position Soroka is in.
“It’s tough for me to look at that situation, and sure I’m thinking about the team, but it’s also more about him and his career, too. There’s, for me, more emphasis on Mike coming back healthy and working his way back into this environment, pitching in front of crowds and feeling like he can be himself back on the field and not worry about getting hurt.
“I had a talk with him in spring training about that and it’s just so hard to put myself in his shoes, and I think it would be hard for a lot of people to put themselves in his shoes, just because, a lot of us have had injuries, and a lot of us have surgeries, but most of us have not had a failure in a year-long rehab that required another significant revision or repair, and then having to go through the exact same thing all over again.”
5. Third baseman Austin Riley doubled on a line drive to left field in the sixth inning, extending his season-best hitting streak to 10 games. Unfortunately, the Braves couldn’t capitalize on it.
Still, Riley is hitting .368 with two home runs, six doubles, six RBI and six runs on this stretch.
Stat to know
1.84 -- In 11 starts against the Braves with the Phillies, Wheeler owns a 1.84 ERA with 87 strikeouts, compared to a 3.11 ERA against other opponents in that span
“I thought it was really good. It would have been really, really good if we could have scored a few runs.” -- Snitker on a solid outing from Morton)
Spencer Strider (4-2, 2.97) is slated to face right-hander Dylan Covey (0-0, 3.00) Sunday in the final game of this four-game series. First pitch is at 7:10 p.m.