After an 11-game streak where the Braves scored 90 runs, the team’s lineup ran into a buzz saw Tuesday night in pitcher Jacob deGrom.
DeGrom silenced the Braves’ batters in a 10-2 loss to the Mets at SunTrust Park. DeGrom, the 2018 National League Cy Young award winner, pitched 8-1/3 innings, allowing five hits and handing out 10 strikeouts.
For the Braves, their hot streak at the plate had to end at some point. In the eyes of manager Brian Snitker, the idea that good pitching will slow good hitting is a mainstay in the game of baseball.
“The guy is one of the best in the business,” Snitker said of deGrom. “That was probably as good a game as you’ll ever (see) pitched.”
Braves players don’t look at the performance so much as a halt or a deviation from the team’s success at the plate as of late. Rather, it’s a game they don’t want to dwell on hoping Wednesday night will be a return to the previous offensive success, one that’s bolstered the team’s offense to No. 4 overall in batting in the major leagues, with a .266 total average.
The Braves couldn’t generate much offense until the ninth inning, when first basemen Freddie Freeman and third basemen Josh Donaldson hit back-to-back home runs for the Braves’ lone runs.
Donaldson’s elevated performance at the plate as of late further gives the Braves optimism that Tuesday night’s game was an outlier. The 33-year-old signed a 1-year, $23 million contract in the offseason and struggled to find the form he had previously with the Toronto Blue Jays, where in 2015 he won the AL MVP award.
But Donaldson, who spent a short stint with the Cleveland Indians in 2018 before suffering a calf injury, has excelled in the lineup at the cleanup spot, hitting .406 with four home runs in his past seven games.
“It was only a matter of time for him,” said pinch-hitter Charlie Culberson, who is starting in Wednesday’s game against the Mets in place of right fielder Nick Markakis. “He’s starting to elevate balls the right way, and you can tell his swing in sync now, he always has confidence, that’s who he is, but he’s putting together great at-bats.”
Shortstop Dansby Swanson, who was 1-for-3 with a hit and two strikeouts against deGrom, attributes the performance much like his manager does. There’s not a reason for panic or drastic change in approach. He recognized deGrom’s velocity and command as primarily what gave the Braves fits.
“When he’s on like he was last night, there’s really not much you can do besides just going out there and battling,” Swanson said. “So, we just kind of throw that one behind us and just keep moving forward.”
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