The Braves (41-44) lost to the rebuilding Pirates again, 2-1, Tuesday in Pittsburgh. It was another tough loss for the Braves, who this time saw usually reliable lefty Tyler Matzek melt down in the final frame.
Here are five takeaways from Tuesday:
1. Matzek entered in the bottom of the ninth with the game tied at 1. He walked Rodolfo Castro on an eight-pitch at-bat to start the inning and set up the top of the Pirates’ lineup. Adam Frazier followed with a single. Matzek had Ke’Bryan Hayes in a 1-2 count but threw three consecutive balls, loading the bases with none out.
He didn’t deliver Bryan Reynolds a strike in the next at-bat. Four straight balls walked in the game-ending run and sent the Braves to one of their worst losses this season. Overall, Matzek threw eight strikes on 20 pitches.
“He just wasn’t getting the ball over,” manager Brian Snitker said. “He was missing in the same spot. The last couple times, he grinded through yesterday (Monday) and last couple before that he was pretty good. That was a tough one.”
2. The Braves lost 11-1 Monday, meaning they’ve managed only two runs in two games against one of the worst teams in the National League.
“That’s the biggest thing,” Snitker said. “That’s more than any other, really. We’re having a hard time bunching anything together. The last two days, we haven’t been able to string anything together. We’ve been through this before. We have to fight through it and hopefully come out tomorrow and string some hits together.”
Snitker’s team has scored more than four runs in only two of their past 18 games. The outliers were a 20-run showing against the Mets and Sunday’s comeback against the Marlins. A recurring theme is the team’s struggles with runners in scoring position. They went 0-for-1 in that category Tuesday, unable to generate offense against Pirates starter Chad Kuhl and three relievers.
3. Left fielder Orlando Arcia hit his first homer with the Braves in the fifth. He’s had multiple hits in two of his first three games with the Braves since he was promoted from Triple-A Sunday.
In about his only mistake of the night, Kuhl hung a slider that Arcia demolished 430 feet to left (the third-longest homer of his career). It was Arcia’s first major-league homer since Sept. 15, 2020. The former Brewer has seven homers in 68 games against the Pirates. He’s hit four homers at PNC Park, his most at any road ballpark.
4. Braves starter Ian Anderson wasn’t his sharpest but held the Pirates to one run on five hits across five innings. Anderson threw 91 pitches, striking out three and walking four.
The Pirates had a baserunner in every inning except the fourth against Anderson. He escaped each frame but the third, when Frazier singled, Hayes doubled and Reynolds’ sacrifice fly scored Pittsburgh’s run.
“It was OK, I didn’t think it was great,” Anderson said of his night. “I was happy we were able to limit them to one run with the sacrifice fly and how we were able to work through that. They had some baserunners on and I was able to work through it. I threw a few more pitches than I want to but I kept the team in the game and we had a chance there.”
5. First baseman Freddie Freeman went 0-for-4, ending his eight-game hitting streak. Freeman hit .448/.543/.552 with 13 hits and five walks during the run. His average was the highest in the majors over that span.
Pirates 2, Braves 1 (box score)
Stat to know
2 (The Braves have scored two runs in 18 innings against the Pirates this series. This is the same Pirates team they defeated 20-1 on May 21 at Truist Park.)
“It’s tough when you get so close to .500 and you feel like you’re going to push forward and you take a couple steps back. It’s something we’re trying to keep fighting through and we’ll see what happens.” – Anderson on the Braves’ inability to get above .500
The Braves and Pirates finish their series Wednesday afternoon. It will be their final meeting this season. Drew Smyly (6-3, 4.42) will start against Pirates righty Wil Crowe 91-5, 6.26).
About the Author