Yankees offense clobbers Toussaint, Wilson in Braves’ loss

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Touki Toussaint, right, watches a replay of Mike Ford's third inning, two-run double as a bat boy comes to collect Ford's batting gear from him at second base as seen from right field during a baseball game against the New York Yankees, Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Touki Toussaint, right, watches a replay of Mike Ford's third inning, two-run double as a bat boy comes to collect Ford's batting gear from him at second base as seen from right field during a baseball game against the New York Yankees, Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Credit: Kathy Willens

Credit: Kathy Willens

For the second consecutive night, the Braves found themselves down three runs by first inning’s end. For the second consecutive night, a late offensive surge wasn’t enough to overcome earlier pitching woes.

The Yankees slapped the Braves around in an 9-6 loss Tuesday in the Bronx. In the past two nights, the Phillies’ and Yankees’ slugging lineups have exploited the Braves’ shaky rotation.

Touki Toussaint allowed six runs (five earned) on four hits across four innings Tuesday, putting the Braves in another hole from which they couldn’t quite escape. It was Toussaint’s worst start of the season.

Toussaint made progress over his past two outings. He allowed three runs over 6-2/3 innings in his past start, but was much better than the numbers showed. His first start included four uneasy but scoreless frames. Toussaint’s arrow was pointing up.

He couldn’t contain the Yankees, however, who featured a lineup he said was better than any other he’d faced, except perhaps the 2018 champion Red Sox.

Trouble began early: Luke Voit turned Toussaint’s slider into a three-run homer in the first inning. The Yankees were positioned after DJ LeMahieu’s single and Toussaint’s throwing error to first that allowed Aaron Hicks to reach base.

“I left it up and he took advantage,” Toussaint said. “Good hitters are going to hit mistakes.”

After a perfect second, Toussaint hit LeMahieu and walked Aaron Judge before Hicks singled to load the bases. Void lined out to third baseman Austin Riley, whose throwing error to first allowed another Yankees run.

Toussaint struck out Gleyber Torres and had a chance to escape the inning, but Mike Ford’s double chased home another two runs. Toussaint finished with a perfect fourth but left in a six-run deficit.

“I’m anxious to watch it again when I get back to the room,” catcher Tyler Flowers said. “I feel like he actually threw the ball pretty well. Obviously he hung that one early that got us down three out of the gate, but I’ll tell you, they did a great job fouling off well-located pitches and really made us work.

“I feel like he actually threw the ball pretty well. When you look at the stat line, it feels silly to say that, but in reality, I feel like he executed a lot of pitches and they did a tremendous job fouling them off and making him work more and more. Eventually, you can’t put every one exactly where you want it. They did a great job taking advantage of those throughout the night.”

Sure, a couple pitches or breaks could’ve changed the outing, and certainly the Yankees deserve the majority of the credit, but Tuesday continued a disturbing pitching trend. Beyond Max Fried, the rotation is unpredictable each day.

Answers aren’t easy to come by. Ultimately, the Braves couldn’t have figured they’d lose so much pitching. They didn’t expect to be reliant on Toussaint, Kyle Wright and the like so early in the season.

But with Mike Soroka and Felix Hernandez out, Cole Hamels nowhere in sight, and Mike Foltynewicz and Sean Newcomb ousted to the alternate site, this is the hand they’re dealt.

Relying on young pitchers is a difficult endeavor, especially for an organization with World Series aspirations. In a shortened season, there’s deeper urgency that makes banking on unproven commodities even more challenging.

“We have young pitchers who are learning,” manager Brian Snitker said. “You’re not going to change that. They’re not all of a sudden going to be veteran guys. No matter what the situation is, you have to weather storms with them. They have to learn and keep pitching. That’s the only way they’re going to figure this out. You keep running them out there because they have stuff. It doesn’t matter if it’s 160, 60, 25 (games), whatever. They’re learning.”

Marcell Ozuna reacts crossing the plate after hitting a three-run, home run during a baseball game against the New York Yankees, Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Marcell Ozuna reacts crossing the plate after hitting a three-run, home run during a baseball game against the New York Yankees, Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Credit: Kathy Willens

Credit: Kathy Willens

Notes from Tuesday:

- Right-hander Bryse Wilson, promoted earlier in the day, made his 2020 debut in relief of Toussaint. He walked four Yankees, hit a batter and allowed a homer to Aaron Judge. Wilson threw 52 pitches over 1-2/3 innings, eliminating him as a candidate to start Wednesday.

- Instead, that honor will go to Huascar Ynoa, who pitched 2-1/3 innings Sunday in his first career start. Like that game, the Braves will start Ynoa and see how far he goes before turning it over to their bullpen, which is in “good shape,” Snitker said.

- The Braves scratched Ronald Acuna from the lineup 90 minutes before first pitch due to left wrist soreness. Acuna is day-to-day and will be further evaluated Wednesday.

- Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery was brilliant with one big exception. Marcell Ozuna clubbed a three-run homer off the southpaw in the sixth inning. Ozuna and Flowers were the only Braves to have multiple hits, collecting four of the team’s eight.

- No surprise, the Braves made their usual late push. Once down 8-0, they scored six across the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. On Monday night, the Braves had scored seven runs in the ninth inning of a 13-8 loss to Philadelphia.

Still, the final results were losses because the Braves were in holes too deep to overcome.

“We scored six runs, you need to win the game,” Snitker said. “It was just a struggle. We threw a lot of pitches early in the game. They didn’t have many hits. We just didn’t do a real good job starting this game out.”

- The Braves traded first baseman Yonder Alonso to the Padres for cash considerations on Tuesday, as first reported by Dennis Lin of The Athletic. Alonso was with the Braves in spring training and summer camp but lost his potential roster spot to Matt Adams just before the season.

Alonso, 33, is a 10-year veteran. He joins brother-in-law Manny Machado with the Padres organization.

- The Braves and Yankees finish their two-game series Wednesday with Ynoa against Masahiro Tanaka. The Braves will try to avoid their first three-game losing streak of the season before having their first off day of the season Thursday.

“I think the off day is going to come at the perfect time,” Snitker said. “I think tomorrow we’re in good shape. Josh (Tomlin) can come back tomorrow (after pitching Tuesday). He’s somebody who’s so efficient in his pitches, he allows you to do that. Unless something happens, we should be in pretty good shape tomorrow. Then with the off day, we regroup going into the weekend.”