“Resiliency,” said Jackson Stephens, one of the heroes.
“That’s just the team we are,” Michael Harris said. “We never let down; we always have fight in us. We’re going to fight to the end.”
“It’s good just for your mental strength and as a team, and knowing that you’re never down, you’re never out of a game,” manager Brian Snitker said.
The Braves entered the fifth-inning rain delay trailing by a run and went back to their clubhouse to watch some football during the break. The hiatus could have zapped their energy. It could have made it more difficult to take back the momentum.
In the eighth inning, they scored the tying run on a wild pitch. In the 11th, two clutch hits gave them a two-run lead.
And with the victory, the Braves remained 1 ½ games behind the Mets.
“That’s two really good teams, division rivals going at it, rain delay in between, a lot of scenarios going on,” Stephens said. “To come out on top of that, yeah, it’s pretty special for sure.”
2. Stephens might have encountered the most difficult spot in Sunday’s game: In the bottom of the 10th inning, he entered a tie game and, with a runner starting the frame at second base, had to send the game to the 11th. It is nearly impossible to keep that runner from scoring in these circumstances.
“You feel the pressure, obviously, but you just got to prepare for that and you got to treat it like it’s your last pitch every single pitch and fill up the zone,” Stephens said.
Stephens kept a tough Phillies lineup off the board in the 10th, then protected the lead in the 11th, allowing only an unearned run to score. His two innings, in a massive spot, pushed the Braves to victory, as did the bullpen going 6 ⅓ innings without giving up an earned run.
It might have been Stephens’ best moment of the season.
“He’s done an unbelievable job for us, whether it’s sitting there and providing length or just situations like this,” Snitker said.
3. Ronald Acuña did not start any of the four games in this series. If you needed another reminder of how valuable he is for this club, he provided it in the 11th inning Sunday.
Acuña, who entered as a pinch hitter in the eighth and stayed in the game, lined a two-strike single into center field to plate the go-ahead run. In his first action since mid-back tightness forced him out of the lineup, he delivered in a crucial game.
“That’s just who he is,” Harris said. “He’s the top player in the league for a reason, and he showed it there.”
The star outfielder stepped up to the plate with one out and a runner on third base. He quickly fell behind 0-2 before hitting a run-scoring single.
“I feel like I’ve always got the confidence, I always like to be in those situations,” Acuña said through interpreter Franco García. “So I kind of want to be there and say, ‘Let’s see what I can do here.’”
4. Harris quickly found himself down 0-2 in the 11th inning. The Braves had already scored a run, but insurance is always accepted.
On the sixth pitch of the at-bat, Harris hit a change-up below the zone for a run-scoring single to right field.
“He just keeps doing it,” Snitker said. “That’s not the first one he’s had. You almost come to expect it now because, obviously, the guy plays above his age and experience, that’s for sure. Those are always huge runs, too.”
5. Charlie Morton surrendered six earned runs over 4 ⅔ innings. It’s the type of start that buries a team.
But his teammates picked him up. It’s what the Braves do.
Dansby Swanson drove in three runs, including two with a home run. Matt Olson and Travis d’Arnaud each hit run-scoring doubles.
And later in the day, after a ton of fight, the Braves outlasted the Phillies.
Braves 8, Phillies 7 (box score)
Stat to know
200 – Morton is the first Braves pitcher with consecutive 200-strikeout seasons since John Smoltz did it in 1996 and 1997.
“Get ahead, get behind, get ahead, get behind. Just being able to just keep it chugging, keep chugging, keep chugging, and then coming out on top, that’s the main goal.” – Stephens
The Braves will start right-hander Bryce Elder in Monday’s series opener in Washington, which begins at 7:05 p.m.