Smyly hit hard again as Braves are routed by Blue Jays

Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Jacob Webb reacts after giving up a three-run home run to Toronto Blue Jays' Teoscar Hernandez during the sixth inning of a baseball game Friday, April 30, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Jacob Webb reacts after giving up a three-run home run to Toronto Blue Jays' Teoscar Hernandez during the sixth inning of a baseball game Friday, April 30, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)

Five observations from the Braves’ 13-5 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night:

1. Drew Smyly struggled again in his fourth start for the Braves, allowing seven hits – three of them homers – and six runs (five earned) in four-plus innings of work. The left-hander has allowed 17 earned runs in 19 innings this season, computing to an 8.05 ERA. He has allowed nine home runs in the 19 innings – a stark contrast to last season, when he allowed two homers in 26-1/3 innings with San Francisco.

“I’ve just got to pitch better, man,” Smyly said. “It’s just not going my way. I’ve just got to do a better job of keeping us in the game and limiting the home-run ball. It’s been killing me.”

2. Toronto hit three home runs against Smyly and three more against Braves relievers. The Blue Jays took a 2-0 lead when Bo Bichette hit a two-run 420-foot homer to right-center in the third inning off a Smyly cutter that stayed up in the strike zone. They doubled the lead when Alejandro Kirk slammed a 428-foot two-run homer to left-center in the fourth inning off a Smyly fastball that also was up. They tacked on another run when Randal Grichuk hit Smyly’s first pitch of the fifth inning, a hanging curveball, for a 417-foot homer to left.

“The results aren’t there, and it’s frustrating,” Smyly said. “It’s not fun, giving up some home runs and taking your team out of the game early. It’s my job to keep us in the game and give us a chance to win, and when you don’t do that, it hurts. It stinks.”

Smyly’s night was finished when he walked the next batter after Grichuk’s homer. That runner scored, too, when reliever Edgar Santana, promoted from the alternate training site earlier in the day, surrendered Kirk’s second homer of the game.

3. Hard-throwing Toronto left-hander Robbie Ray stymied the Braves through the first six innings, allowing just one hit and facing the minimum number of batters until that point. The Braves’ Travis d’Arnaud doubled with one out in the second inning, but he was doubled off second base when the next batter lined out to shortstop.

“He was throwing really good,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of Ray. “He was keeping us off balance and locating his fastball. He wasn’t giving us a whole lot to swing at.”

Ray wearied in the seventh inning, when he allowed four hits, including a two-run homer by Ozzie Albies. But the Blue Jays already had a 10-0 lead.

4. The Braves’ Marcell Ozuna got his first hit of the season against a left-handed pitcher when he doubled in the seventh against Ray. Before that at-bat, Ozuna was 0-for-20 against left-handers -- a stark contrast to last season, when he hit .356 (16-for-45) with a 1.330 OPS against lefties.

5. The game was played at the Blue Jays’ spring-training stadium, TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Fla., because of Canada’s strict COVID-19 regulations. Smyly said he hardly noticed the difference from pitching in a big-league stadium.

“It’s more noticeable when you’re not playing than when you are playing, but once you’re out there on the mound, you don’t see anything else,” he said.

Key stat

6: Home runs hit Friday by Toronto (three against Drew Smyly, one against Edgar Santana, one against Jacob Webb and one against Tyler Matzek).

Quotable

“Hopefully, it’s just one of these things that he keeps running out there every five days and finds it. ... You go back and look, and it’s too many balls in the middle of the plate.” -- Braves manager Brian Snitker on Smyly’s struggles

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