Six-run inning brings Kyle Wright’s home dominance to a halt

051022 Atlanta: Atlanta Braves pitching coach Rick Kranitz confers with starting pitcher Kyle Wright against the Boston Red Sox during the second inning of a MLB baseball game on Tuesday, May 10, 2022, in Atlanta.    “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

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051022 Atlanta: Atlanta Braves pitching coach Rick Kranitz confers with starting pitcher Kyle Wright against the Boston Red Sox during the second inning of a MLB baseball game on Tuesday, May 10, 2022, in Atlanta. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Braves starter Kyle Wright was nearly untouchable on the Truist Park mound in April. While his 1.73 ERA and 37 strikeouts were leading marks in a talented rotation, his excellence at home has been unparalleled across the majors: a 3-0 record and MLB-best 0.47 ERA.

Wright’s hot streak, and the Braves’ recent impressive stretch of pitching, ended in the second inning of Tuesday evening’s interleague matchup against the Red Sox. The Boston lineup pounded Wright for six runs - including a grand slam from Rafael Devers - and built a commanding lead that they wouldn’t relinquish in a 9-4 Red Sox win.

“I tried to do a little too much,” Wright said. “I fell back into the trap of something I’ve done in years past of trying to put up a zero instead of just limiting the damage.”

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Wright took only nine pitches to retire the first three Boston batters, but the second inning devolved into disaster for the right-hander.

Consecutive singles by left fielder Alex Verdugo and second baseman Trevor Story and Wright’s four-pitch walk to first baseman Franchy Cordero loaded the bases with one out. Catcher Christian Vázquez hit a single to score the game’s first run before Wright walked right fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. for another Red Sox run. Braves third baseman Austin Riley handled a hard grounder and threw to home for a force out, bringing Wright within an out of escaping the inning with just a 2-0 deficit.

That sent up Devers, one of Boston’s hottest hitters. Devers blasted Wright’s first pitch, a 96.1-mph fastball, 432 feet to center field for his third career grand slam. Wright fooled designated hitter J.D. Martinez with a slider to end the inning on a strikeout, but still shouted into his glove in frustration as he walked from the mound back to the dugout.

Manager Brian Snitker elected to keep Wright in until the fifth inning, and Wright rewarded the decision with a couple of clean frames. After Wright threw a wild pitch that advanced shortstop Xander Boegarts into scoring position and walked Cordero in the top of the fifth, Jesse Chavez entered the game in relief of Wright and stranded both runners with a strikeout.

Red Sox 9, Braves 4

Wright’s final stat line looked drastically different from his April appearances at Truist Park: 4 2/3 innings pitched, six runs and four strikeouts.

“I never saw any panic in him,” Snitker said. “He didn’t execute some pitches and things like that, but after that inning, I thought he got back to work and went on the attack and got himself going again.

Prior to Wright’s blazing start to the 2022 season, his struggles with blow-up innings prevented him from emerging as a reliable rotation option. Wright was charged with seven earned runs in the third inning of a 2019 start against the Nationals, and a year later in Game 3 of the 2020 National League Championship Series, the Dodgers tagged him for seven runs in the first inning en route to a 15-3 win. The fifth overall pick in the 2017 draft spent most of last season in Triple-A Gwinnett.

Still, Wright said that he didn’t think back to previous seasons during the outing and saw growth in how he handled adversity.

“I never felt like that inning got away from me,” Wright said. “I never felt like, ‘oh here we go again.’ I feel like I was trying to be too cute, too fine.”

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