Baseball fans can be crazy. One second, they’re on top of the world; the next, the sky is falling after a few losses. Braves fans are no different, and some of the questions I received following the Astros sweep in Atlanta were quite comical. The Braves have nothing to worry about, and if you needed a reminder, Spencer Strider provided just that on Monday night against the Marlins.
Strider came into the game needing nine strikeouts to break John Smoltz‘s franchise record of consecutive games with at least nine punchies. That was no problem; he got there in just the sixth inning, but the focus quickly changed to something much more important. Strider was perfect through six, with a real chance to complete the first perfect game since Felix Hernandez accomplished the feat all the way back in 2012.
Spencer Strider, 97mph ⛽️
9 Consecutive games with at least 9 Ks. pic.twitter.com/15b7GuX76e
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 25, 2023
Unfortunately, those hopes died in the seventh when Matt Olson botched a routine groundball to first. However, the no-hitter was still intact going into the 8th, and Strider had yet to even toss 90 pitches.
A flyout to begin the top half of the 8th inning brought down a reign of cheers. Strider was then able to get ahead of Jean Segura, but the veteran infielder ended all of the fun with a weakly hit soft liner over the head of the shortstop.
Frankly, I have no idea how Segura even hit that ball. That was a damn-near perfect 0-2 pitch that probably results in a swinging strikeout more times than not. Strider would go on to finish the inning without allowing a run, ending the night with 13 strikeouts in one of the most spectacular performances of his young career.
Oh, and by the way, the Braves offense was pretty good as well. They racked up 11 runs on the night courtesy of five homers, two of which came from Sam Hilliard.
On any other night, Hilliard probably would have been the top storyline. After coming over from the Rockies in a trade during the offseason, he’s been spectacular in the absence of Michael Harris and is really making a case to be the Braves everyday left fielder once Harris returns from the IL.
But Monday was all about Spencer Strider. He now leads the league in strikeouts and strikeout rate. He’s the favorite to take home the NL Cy Young. #99 is the most dominant pitcher in the game right now, and I’m not even sure he’s yet to really hit his stride this early in the season.
Photo: John Adams/Icon Sportswire
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