Marcus Stroman’s season has been plagued with extremes of good and bad. Unfortunately for the Braves, Tuesday brought the good.
Stroman pitched seven one-run innings, and an eighth-inning explosion helped the Blue Jays defeat the Braves 6-2 at SunTrust Park. It was the Braves’ sixth loss in seven games since beginning the last road trip with four wins.
Their loss, coupled with the Phillies’ win over the Mets, put Philadelphia atop the National League East by a game.
The game was lost in the five-run Jays eighth. Lourdes Gurriel reached on an error when the ball shot past Dansby Swanson. Gurriel advanced to second on Freddie Freeman’s error in attempting to field a pick-off attempt.
Randal Grichuk and Russell Martin singled, breaking a 1-1 tie. Kevin Pillar’s single added an insurance run and chased reliever A.J. Minter, whom manager Brian Snitker designated to face the beef of the Blue Jays’ order, but was victimized by a pair of defensive miscues from unusual sources.
“I look back and I don’t know when the last time (Minter) gave up a run,” Snitker said. “It was exactly what I wanted. (Jesse) Biddle did a good job getting us out of that (seventh) inning. Didn’t like the matchup with Julio (Teheran) and (Curtis) Granderson. He did a really good job. And then A.J. just – he’s going to give up runs every now and then. Like I said, I went back and it’s been a while since they’ve scored on him. It’s going to happen.”
Minter owned a 1.17 ERA (two runs in 15 1/3 innings) over his past 16 games, while holding opponents to a .122 average. He struck out 20 and walked two in that span.
“You learn from it,” Minter said. “Balls are going to be hit to people, and some days balls aren’t going to be hit to people. You just have to forget about it and come back tomorrow.
“You can’t worry about the bad performances. You can only move forward. It’s going to happen. I feel bad for Julio because he pitched a great game. It’s baseball.”
Shane Carle couldn’t stop the bleeding. Aledmys Diaz’s two-RBI double marked Toronto’s fourth straight hit and extended the lead to 5-1. Devon Travis doubled home the sixth run.
The only damage against Teheran was Justin Smoak’s solo homer in the third. Teheran went 6 2/3 innings, fanning five and walking three. He responded well from a five-run performance in New York, after which he returned to Atlanta with an illness, missing the Milwaukee series.
It was also a markedly better showing against Toronto than last season, when Teheran was tagged for nine runs. He’s allowed nine home runs in just 24 2/3 career innings against the Jays.
Ozzie Albies got the sixth inning going with a bunt single. He stole second on Freddie Freeman’s strikeout. Kurt Suzuki’s single past third knotted the game at one.
Albies’ sixth-inning works and three-hit night were another illustration of why the 21-year-old made the All-Star game. He leads the National League with 70 runs scored.
For Stroman, it was a successful bounce back after giving up six runs against the Mets July 4. Tuesday was the fourth time in his past 10 outings he’s allowed fewer than four runs.
The Braves failed to homer for the fifth consecutive game, their longest long-ball drought of the season. They’ve dropped five of seven at home.
Mike Foltynewicz faces Sam Gaviglio Wednesday as the Braves try to split a brief two-game series.