Five days ago, the Braves were flying high. They owned the best record in the National League, sat three games ahead of the Mets for the division lead and were fresh off their eighth consecutive win. Thanks to several unexpected contributors, Atlanta had figured out a way to navigate numerous injuries and still look like one of the best teams in baseball. However, some regression was always inevitable, and all of that progress came to a screeching halt this past weekend against the Astros.
Despite being swept, there were some encouraging signs. The Braves jumped out to leads in every game of the series, thanks to some outstanding performances from their starting pitchers. Bryce Elder continues to establish himself as more than just a guy at the back-end of the rotation. After six more innings in which he didn’t allow an earned run, his ERA is down to a league-leading 1.14.
Kyle Wright got the ball in Game 2 and was just as impressive as Elder for about five innings. He held the Astros scoreless until the sixth, but a couple of homers off the bats of Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker flipped the game on its head. Still, it was an encouraging outing for Wright, who was only making his third start of the season.
Max Fried got the ball in the series finale, hoping to help the Braves avoid their first four-game losing streak since 2021. He did his job, tossing 6.2 scoreless innings, but once again, the Braves’ bats and bullpen would falter.
Atlanta was able to scrape runs across in the fifth and sixth inning thanks to a Kevin Pillar homer and a throwing error, but the pesky Astros never wavered. After delivering the game-winning home run in the first game of the series, Alvarez came through again with a bases loaded single to tie the game in the eighth. Houston would then add three more in the ninth, while the Braves simply had no answer.
It was an incredibly frustrating series because it felt like Atlanta should have won at least two out of three, and they had a chance to sweep. Instead, the defending World Series champion Astros came into Truist Park and walked out without a scratch.
Kudos to the Houston, who showed why they have been to the World Series in four of the last six seasons. They are never out of a game and thrive in the pivotal moments. But as a Braves fan, I’m not too concerned with what transpired. Down two of their best bullpen arms, this relief core was always going to trip up at some point. It’s unfortunate it happened when it did, but Raisel Iglesias and Collin McHugh will go a long way in making sure that doesn’t happen again. This lineup is also really missing the presences of Michael Harris and Travis d’Arnaud, who hopefully, will be back before long as well.
Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire
You must log in to post a comment.