Even with a worse ERA than the Padres’ Blake Snell and the Cubs’ Justin Steele, Spencer Strider found himself in the thick of the National League Cy Young race because of his insane strikeout numbers and the stuff that makes him unhittable when he’s going.

Wednesday might have changed this, as Strider’s ERA rose to 3.83. He’s still got time, but he’ll need to rattle off a scoreless streak – which he certainly has the potential to do.

The Braves lost to the Cardinals, 11-6, at Truist Park. Atlanta lost this series and will look to avoid the sweep in Thursday’s finale.

Five observations:

1. Strider uttered two brief sentences about his disastrous outing that might reflect part of what he thinks about his season – despite how well he’s pitched.

“I didn’t give us a chance,” he said. “It’s happened a few too many times this year.”

On Tuesday, he allowed six runs over 2 2/3 innings. In five of his 28 starts, he’s given up five or more runs. In nine outings, he’s surrendered four or more.

This happens. It’s baseball. No one is perfect.

But Strider can be an ace, and holds himself to that standard.

What is the common denominator in these poor starts?

“It’s just the inability to make an adjustment,” Strider said. “Not hitting my spots. A lot of times when you don’t hit your spots, you get the ball back. But that certainly didn’t happen tonight. I gotta figure out how to be effective when everything’s not lined up, or I don’t feel good, or if they’re taking good swings, they’re being passive, whatever it is. I gotta give us a chance to win, and I didn’t do it.”

2. Strider’s outing began in the worst way: He walked the first batter, then served up a homer to the second.

It spiraled from there.

“At some point I got to figure out how to be effective when everything doesn’t doesn’t go my way,” he said. “Otherwise, it’s gonna keep happening, so hopefully make an adjustment.”

He possesses the ability to recover. On this night, he couldn’t do so. This was tied for the shortest start of his career, and the six earned runs were tied for the second most he’s surrendered in a start in his young career.

The Cardinals piled on Strider in a four-run first that had one homer, three total hits and one batter reach first after striking out because Strider fired a wild pitch.

“I think it’s just one of those learning-type things, as he’s navigating his first full year,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It’s one of them days where things weren’t going quite well. They’re going to happen. And he’ll learn from it, he’ll file it away and be all the much better for what he just experience.”

Atlanta Braves first baseman Matt Olson (28) hits a solo home run during the sixth inning at Truist Park. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)


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3. The Braves fell behind, 6-0, through three innings.

Still, they were within two runs at two different points. They scored two in the fourth, three in the sixth and one in the seventh.

The highlight might have been Matt Olson’s MLB-leading 46th home run of the season, a solo shot in the sixth. Michael Harris II’s two-run single in that same inning made it a two-run game.

Atlanta’s pitching staff couldn’t hold it there.

“They’ve put together great at-bats the last two days,” Olson said of the Cardinals. “They’ve been swinging it really well. Sometimes, hitting is contagious. I think it’s easy to try to point the blame on stuff, but sometimes guys are just swinging well and they’re putting together good at-bats.”

4. Before this series, the Braves were 71-12 when scoring at least five runs.

They’re now 71-14.

Atlanta scored six on Tuesday and six more on Wednesday. Usually, this is enough for the Braves to win games because they have a great pitching staff. But the pitching staff isn’t immune to bad days.

5. Before Wednesday’s game, the Braves presented Adam Wainwright with a portrait. The 42-year-old plans to retire after this season and the Cardinals won’t be making the postseason, which means this final month is the right-hander’s farewell tour.

The Braves drafted Wainwright in the first round in 2000 before trading him to the Cardinals in 2003 in a deal that netted J.D. Drew and Eli Marrero.

In 2003, Snitker managed Wainwright at Double-A Greenville.

On Thursday, Wainwright will start against the Braves for the final time.

“I’m so proud of him and his career, and love the guy,” Snitker said. “I said, ‘You’re gonna have a statue at Busch Stadium.’ He’s had just an unbelievable career. He’s a wonderful person – giving, professional, what he’s done for the city of St. Louis and his community. He’s just a great, great person. I’m just very proud of him and the career that he’s had, because I think the world of the guy.”

Stat to know

1, 12, 19 - In two starts versus the Cardinals last season, Strider allowed one run over 12 innings, and struck out 19.


“He’ll go back and watch the video and study it all. I think he’s been through this enough, even in a young career, that he’s gonna know he’s gotta move on. He’ll prepare, he always does, and learn from it. It’s just the feel, the experience of the whole thing, is good.” - Snitker on Strider

Up next

Braves ace Max Fried will face the Cardinals in Thursday’s finale, which begins at 7:20 p.m.