1. In 2017, Spencer Strider was a senior in high school. Ronald Acuña Jr. and Austin Riley were in the minor leagues and had not yet debuted. Matt Olson was a young player in Oakland.
They were not playing for the Braves when they last lost five straight games – from Sept. 25-30, 2017.
“I didn’t realize it was that long,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.
To put it into context: Since the beginning of the 2018 season, Atlanta is the only team in baseball without a five-game losing streak. The Braves bounce back well. They don’t let poor stretches spiral.
“I think it’s just not getting too high or low,” Strider said. “It’s easy to sort of panic. It starts with the leadership in the coaching staff, just never overreacting and getting us prepared the same way every day. We’ve got a very mature and smart group of guys that sort of lead in that calm manner as well.”
Strider mentioned Olson, Riley and Travis d’Arnaud as three examples of teammates who lead with an even-keeled attitude. And, of course, it begins with Snitker and his staff.
The Braves, who are 97-54, have lost four in a row four times this season.
They haven’t dropped five in a row in almost six calendar years. Not coincidentally, they’ve also won six straight division crowns.
2. In the post-game interview room, Strider wore an Acuña shirt. It had “3060″ in a large font at the top.
“He’s gonna negate the T-shirt that they made for him, so I thought I would wear it while it was relevant,” Strider joked.
On Tuesday, Acuña launched two more home runs – Nos. 38 and 39. He also stole his 67th base.
It’s feeling like he’ll inevitably finish with a 40-70 season.
And on Tuesday, he immediately made his presence known.
“The ability to go out and get the lead the first batter of the game is unbelievable,” Strider said. “The guy is the most talented player on the planet.”
Advice for opposing pitchers: Do not – DO NOT – give Acuña anything to hit on the first pitch of your start.
You might not see it again. Philadelphia’s Cristopher Sanchez learned this the difficult way.
And in the sixth inning, Acuña blasted another homer.
Asked if he’s surprised pitchers still throw him something to hit on the first pitch of their start, Acuña said this through interpreter Franco García: “They gotta throw the ball. I’m just trying to make good contact.”
Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
3. What would Acuña’s approach be against Strider?
“I faced him in spring training. He struck me out four times, so I don’t have any approach or mentality (against him),” Acuña said. “I don’t want to face him ever again.”
Luckily for Acuña, he only needs to stand in right field and watch as Strider dazzles.
On Tuesday, Strider struck out 11 batters while holding the Phillies to three runs over seven innings. He’d allowed only one hit through the first six frames.
This came six days after Strider threw seven-innings of one-run ball against this same lineup.
“I don’t hit, but I don’t know that there is a major correlation to proximity facing a guy – like back to back or anything,” Strider said. “They’ve seen other guys since I last pitched. It’s not like it’s that fresh. No outing – even for me, I only throw two pitches really – is gonna be exactly the same. There’s an element of randomness to just every outing that I think kind of keeps a team from having the same exact approach, on either side of the ball.”
Which probably makes Strider’s dominance against the Phillies even more impressive.
4. The Phillies piggybacked Sanchez and Michael Lorenzen. The latter entered for the bottom of the fifth … and didn’t finish it.
The Braves started like this: Single, single, walk, walk, double.
Olson, who drew that second walk with the bases loaded, drove in one run. Marcell Ozuna, who doubled after him, plated two more.
The Braves scored four in the fifth and two in the sixth to turn this into a blowout.
5. Here are a few cool notes about Strider:
- Tuesday marked his 50th career start. His 433 strikeouts as a starter are the most in baseball history through 50 career starts.
- Strider, who has 270 strikeouts this season, passed Phil Niekro (262) for second in the Atlanta era for strikeouts in a single season. Up next: John Smoltz, who had 276 strikeouts in 1996.
- Strider became the third pitcher in history to open his career with eight consecutive wins against the Phillies. Johnny Morrison (1921-22) and Kaiser Wilhelm (1903-04) are the others to do it. (Strider’s first outing versus the Phillies came in relief, and the other seven were starts.)
Stat to know
13 - Acuña has 13 multi-homer games in his career, and four have come this season.
“They don’t get caught up in losing streaks, how good, bad, whatever we’re doing. They focus on today really well, and preparing for today’s game and playing today’s game, and giving it everything they have.” - Snitker on his players
Bryce Elder on Wednesday will close the series against the Phillies, who will start right-hander Aaron Nola. First pitch is at 12:20 p.m.