Wright, Braves undone by Phillies’ 4-run fourth

While Kyle Wright has improved over each start, he’s spent much of the season living on the edge. In his previous outing, he’d persisted through 3-1/3 scoreless innings, doing enough to help the Braves win.

Saturday, Wright couldn’t navigate every troublesome inning unscathed. The Phillies struck for four runs in the fourth, hitting two homers, to defeat the Braves 5-0 at Citizens Bank Park. It was the Braves’ first contest of a nine-game road trip. They dropped to 2-4 away from Truist Park this season.

The four-run frame spoiled what was one of Wright’s best overall outings. The biggest blast came from Jay Bruce, who belted a three-run homer.

“I want to build off it,” Wright said. “Three-run homers don’t happen if you keep guys off base. You have to give them some credit too. They swung the bats well, hit some good pitches. For me, it’s to continue trying to keep those runners off base and try to get some quick outs, which I did a much better job of this time than my last outing.”

Avoiding damage in the first three innings, Wright couldn’t work his way out of the fourth. J.T. Realmuto opened the inning by homering off a hanging curveball to put the Phillies up, 1-0. He was the first of four consecutive Phillies to reach base in the frame.

Didi Gregorius singled following Realmuto’s shot. Wright walked Jean Segura on six pitches. Bruce was then granted the same gift as Realmuto: A hanging breaking pitch. He hit Wright’s slider 422 feet for a three-run homer.

“It was the one pitch to Bruce, that’s the one that really got me,” Wright said. “Frustrating outing, but at the same time, I feel good about it. One pitch, I feel like that was where they did most of their damage.”

Despite the result, there was reason to believe Wright is progressing. He threw a first-pitch strike to 22 of the 26 hitters he faced. He appeared much more aggressive, which is the recurring theme for all the Braves’ younger pitchers.

After allowing baserunners in each of the first four innings, capped by the four-run fourth, Wright stayed in the game and pitched two additional scoreless frames, allowing only one baserunner. He produced a perfect fifth, retiring Rhys Hoskins, Bryce Harper and Realmuto. He pitched around a two-out double by Bruce to complete his start.

“I thought he was good,” manager Brian Snitker said. “I liked that he put that inning behind him and went through six innings. That was huge. The fact he put the sixth inning down and got through it, I thought it was a step up. A step in the right direction. They jumped him, Bruce did, and he had the one inning. Other than that, I really liked what I saw.”

Shortstop Dansby Swanson concurred, saying: “I thought he threw the ball really well. We were just talking over dinner about it. It was pretty much one inning. Other than that, he threw the ball really well. Located and got ahead, made pitches when he had to.”

Notes from Saturday:

- The Braves had no answers for Phillies starter Jake Arrieta, who looked like his old self Saturday. The 2015 Cy Young winner scattered three hits over six scoreless innings. He struck out six and walked one, aided by a generous strike zone.

“I thought he threw the ball well,” Swanson said. “I thought he didn’t get over the middle of the plate too often. When he did, he’s got so much movement on his ball that it’s tough to square up at times. He was very good tonight.”

- Braves right-hander Huascar Ynoa will make his first career start in Game 1 of Sunday’s doubleheader, Snitker announced Saturday night. The Braves waited to declare their starter until they knew their bullpen situation after Saturday’s game.

Ynoa, 22, appeared in two games for the Braves last season, allowing six runs over three relief innings. The Braves will take his outing an inning at a time, but the entire bullpen will be available.

“I’m excited to watch him pitch,” Snitker said. “He’s been throwing really well. We know he’s one of our young pitchers with stuff. Skills and stuff play up here, so we’ll see.”

- Since scoring 10 runs on Tuesday, the Braves have scored five times across the next three games. The offense had a forgettable Saturday: The top four hitters – Ronald Acuna, Swanson, Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna – went a combined 0-for-17 with seven strikeouts.

“At the end of the day, there are balls, when you’re hitting them, they’re getting caught,” Swanson said. “Obviously strikeouts are never the best. All you can do is go up there and swing at the right pitches, and the result is one way or another. Even tonight, I hit two balls hard and got out both times. That’s innate to this game.”

- The Braves claimed lefty Robbie Erlin from the Pirates on Friday. Snitker wasn’t very familiar with the 29-year-old, but he likes his profile. Erlin, who has been a starter and reliever, owns a 4.58 ERA across 108 appearances (38 starts).

“He’ll add to the bullpen length,” Snitker said before Saturday’s game. “I understand he’s kind of like Josh Tomlin, can pitch in any situation. I don’t know him real well because he was with the Padres mainly (2013-19), so we didn’t see him a bunch. He’s just another depth piece too.”

- The Braves and Phillies continue their series Sunday with a doubleheader. It will mark the Braves’ first seven-inning doubleheader, which was implemented as one of the rule changes for the 2020 season. Max Fried will start the second game.

About the Author