In the bottom of the ninth inning Wednesday night, Braves baserunner Ronald Acuña Jr. stared down Diamondbacks reliever Kevin Ginkel from third base. Ginkel stared back. Acuña danced halfway down the line, daring the pitcher to try to pick him off. Ginkel stepped off the mound and walked to Acuña, forcing him to retreat. Fans peppered the pitcher with boos.

Acuña scored moments later on a wild pitch. It didn’t matter. The Braves trailed by three at that point, two after Acuña scored, and lost 5-3 in front of a sellout crowd at Truist Park.

It was the Braves’ fourth straight loss and fifth in their last six games.

Here are five observations:

1. After the madness of Tuesday night’s 16-13 thriller, Wednesday’s game was a much more typical affair.

There was excitement when the Braves brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth, but generally, it was a return to normalcy.

“I guess yesterday was normal, too,” center fielder Michael Harris II said, before thinking about it. “Nah, it wasn’t normal. Sometimes you get those high-scoring games. Sometimes they’re fun, sometimes they’re not. It wasn’t fun yesterday because we didn’t come out with the win. So today I guess feels a little more normal. But still came up without a victory so I didn’t really like either result.”

2. Arizona starter Ryne Nelson entered Wednesday’s game with a 4.98 ERA. The Braves made him look like his teammate, All-Star game starter Zac Gallen.

Nelson gave up just three hits in seven innings. He struck out five. He cruised through the first six innings before needing 20 pitches in the seventh, but still only threw 84 pitches.

Nelson had faced the Braves before. On June 3, he gave up three runs on six hits in 4-2/3 innings. He walked four in a 3-2 Braves win.

“I guess he knew what we liked to do and our tendencies, so he switched it up and had a better outing,” said Harris, who tripled off Nelson on Wednesday. “We struggled against him.”

Atlanta Braves' starting pitcher Charlie Morton (50) throws a pitch against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning at Truist Park, Wednesday, July 19, 2023, in Atlanta. (Hyosub Shin /


icon to expand image


3. Charlie Morton gave the Braves much needed length, pitching 5-2/3 innings. However, he struggled to put hitters away. Twice, Morton left two-strike two-out curveballs over the middle-third of the plate, and twice, Diamondbacks hitters hit RBI doubles.

Morton is known for his postgame honesty, and he was upset with himself for the missed locations. His final pitch was one of those curveballs, and Morton said he missed his target by three feet.

“Those two curveballs, all I’m doing is basically serving my best pitch up on a platter and saying, ‘These are the worst locations that I could throw this pitch,’” Morton said. “... I got my best pitch, in good counts, and I just feed it to a guy. I think that’s more frustrating than a walk.”

Morton gave up four runs and was charged with the loss. He felt lucky it wasn’t worse.

“To be in a position where maybe I give up a run or two, maybe, if things go my way, to giving up four runs and not even making it out of the sixth inning, that’s, for me, (not good enough),” Morton said. “I would say (I had) pretty average stuff, pretty average location.”

Braves third baseman Austin Riley (right) celebrates with first baseman Matt Olson after hitting a solo home run during the seventh inning at Truist Park, Wednesday, July 19, 2023, in Atlanta.  (Hyosub Shin /


icon to expand image


4. While the Braves managed little offense, third baseman Austin Riley continued his hot streak. He homered in the seventh, his third home run of the series.

Riley had been batting .167 in the six games prior to the Arizona series, but said Tuesday he’d changed his mental approach. It looks like it’s working.

“He’s been hitting some balls hard and not really getting results,” Harris said. “... Getting some results really makes you feel good and it really helps the team, so I’m glad he’s going.”

5. Is it time to call it a slump?

Manager Brian Snitker doesn’t think so.

“I think it’s just part of it,” Snitker said.

Some of the Braves’ losing streak can be attributed to a rash of injuries, but the pitching has struggled of late. When it hasn’t, the offense has been held in check.

The Braves’ fielding was questionable as well on Wednesday. Outfield misplays led to Arizona’s first run, and first baseman Matt Olson whiffed catching a pickoff attempt in the eighth. It was Olson’s second consecutive game with a fielding mistake.

Stat to know

19 - Riley’s home run in the seventh inning went 451 feet. It’s the Braves’ 19th home run of 450 feet or more this year, tying the major league record. The Braves already hold the record for teams that don’t play at Coors Field.


“With the right group, losing, getting pushed around a little bit, is beneficial. Albeit, you don’t want to have to experience it. You don’t want it to lose games. But I think that with the right group, and I think we have the right group, it just becomes motivation” - Morton

Up next

The Braves look to snap their skid, but this time, they’ll face Gallen. The final game of the series features two Cy Young favorites, as Gallen (11-4, 3.14 ERA) faces Spencer Strider (11-3, 3.66 ERA) at 12:20 p.m.