The Braves made an interesting decision today, opting not to call up Michael Soroka, and instead went with Kolby Allard, who had only made two rehab starts in Gwinnett since returning from the Injured List. The lefty, that was originally drafted in the first-round by the Braves before being traded to the Rangers, was clearly on a pitch count. However, he made each one count in his return.
The fireworks started for Allard in the first, as he struck out the side without allowing a baserunner, which would be the theme of the day. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Braves game without a first inning run. After Ronald Acuña Jr. coaxed a walk, he would steal second, setting up Matt Olson with an RBI opportunity with two outs, and he didn’t disappoint. A double ripped into the right-center field gap led to the first run of the game, and that would be all the Braves needed, because Allard and the Braves bullpen put together one of the best pitching performances of the season.
Kolby Allard would allow one hit in the second, but a strikeout followed by a groundout ended the inning. He then struck out two more in a perfect third inning before running into his first bit of trouble in the fourth. Byron Buxton led off the frame with a double, but the Twins couldn’t do anything with it, as Allard retired the next three batters in order.
Minnesota would threaten again in the fifth, as they led off the inning with a single and a walk. However, that’s when Kolby Allard came up with his best pitches, striking out the next two batters before Brian Snitker made the call to the bullpen. The eight strikeouts were the second most of Allard’s career, despite the fact he threw just over 70 pitches over 4.2 innings.
Kirby Yates would relieve Allard, and he continued his fantastic work, striking out the first batter he faced and ending the inning. Yates would then come back out and pitch a perfect sixth before handing the ball to A.J. Minter, who retired the Twins in order thanks to an inning ending double play.
The Braves bats would remain quiet for most of the afternoon, but Matt Olson added to his National League leading home run total in the eighth, giving him 26 on the season. Raisel Iglesias would then put a bowtie on this one with a 1, 2, 3 ninth inning. The Braves have now won five in a row, 13 of their last 14, and a remarkable 20 of their last 24, as they head into an off day before a critical series against the second place Marlins this weekend.
Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire