Tuesday night had a number of interesting storylines. The Braves returned to Citizens Bank Park for the first time since they were eliminated in the NLDS last October. With revenge on their mind, they have an opportunity to put a potentially insurmountable gap between them and their division rivals, as they came into Tuesday night’s game up eight games in the division. However, perhaps an even bigger storyline was Spencer Strider, who was coming off two of the worst starts of his career.
A lot of the talk heading into Tuesday was about Strider’s velocity. It had been down in his last two starts, and while it wasn’t the only reasons for his struggles, it was certainly a factor. He answered those questions from the opening bell.
In the first inning, Strider primarily sat around 98 MPH, about 1.5 MPH above where he was in his previous two outings. That was key, because he found some trouble. The Phillies were able to string a couple of hits off of him in the first inning, but he managed to get JT Realmuto swinging to avoid any damage.
That was the story of the night for Strider. The Phillies were able to scatter some hits against him, but every time he found trouble, he delivered his best pitches of the night. The only run the Phillies could muster against him came in the fifth, when Nick Castellanos singled to left field. Strider then followed it up with another critical strikeout of Bryce Harper.
Strider’s final stat line: 6 innings, 8 hits, 1 earned run, and 9 strikeouts
Strider’s final average fastball velocity: 97.5 MPH
The 97.5 MPH average fastball velocity was the second-highest of Strider’s season. He looked like the dominant force he was earlier in the year, and the Braves bats were able to pick him up after the threw his final pitch.
An Eddie Rosario pinch-hit double put runners on second and third in the seventh with nobody out. Two batters later, Ronald Acuña Jr. put the Braves on top with a single to center. The Braves would then add another on an Ozzie Albies grounder to first.
That was all the Braves needed, but just for good measure, Matt Olson added one final run to the Braves tally in the eighth with a moonshot into the second deck of the right field bleachers. It was the first baseman’s 21st home run of the season, tying him for the third-most in the majors.
It was an all-around fantastic night for the Braves, who have now won seven straight games. The rest of the NL East also did their part. The Marlins and Mets lost as well. Atlanta now sits 5.5 games clear of the Fish, 9 games clear of the Phillies, and a ridiculous 13 games ahead of the Mets.
Photo: Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire