Kyle Wright once again provided a stabilizing presence to Atlanta’s rotation. This time around, he had one of his best starts of the year when the Braves needed him most, as his six shutout innings set the tone for the bullpen and helped propel Atlanta to a 3-0 series-tying win over Atlanta. the Phillies.
The first part of this game gave us fans a classic edgy postseason pitching duel. Usually those are intense affairs during the regular season, but during the postseason, the drama factor is multiplied tenfold during these types of games. With a raucous stadium hanging on every field, both Kyle Wright and Zack Wheeler rose to the occasion to kick off. The Phillies entered the hit column first with a double, but Wright was able to strand him at third to keep the runs column empty.
Meanwhile, Zack Wheeler didn’t have much of a problem making his way into the Atlanta lineup. The star pitcher didn’t allow a hit (or any baserunner, for that matter) until the fourth inning, which is when Ronald Acuña Jr. followed up with a single. Other than that, the Braves couldn’t really crack the code that Wheeler had in the early stages of this game.
Things finally got going in the sixth inning, which is when the Braves were making it happen both in the field and at the plate. In Kyle Wright’s final inning of the night, Dansby Swanson helped cap off a great performance by Wright by making a fantastic overhand catch in left center field (!!!) to slam the door on that entrance. Cobb County was alive and on the move after that catch and the good vibes continued after that, but only after a really worrying bump in the road.
That pothole came when Ronald Acuña Jr. was hit by a pitch on his right elbow with two out in the bottom of the sixth. Acuña was bent over and sore for a few minutes and surely looked like he was going to get out of the game. Surprisingly, Acuña was able to stay in the game (and was able to finish the game, too) and it’s a good thing he did because the Braves were able to let him work the bases in this frame.
Dansby Swanson made his way to first base by taking a walk on a full count, setting the stage for Matt Olson to make something happen with a runner in scoring position and two out. Fortunately, Olson was able to ground out hard enough to come screaming out of Rhys Hoskins’ glove and to right field for a go-ahead RBI single.
The Braves then proceeded to keep the ball game small for the next two at-bats. Austin Riley hit a smooth dribbler to third base that Zack Wheeler was able to field. Unfortunately for the Phillies, he couldn’t do anything but field him, so the Braves went up 2-0 with an infield single. That got Travis d’Arnaud to the plate and kept the line going when he hit one that rolled over the mound past second base and into the outfield. to make it a three-run lead for the Braves at that point. The sixth inning also ended up being Zack Wheeler’s last inning and he walked with his team behind him by three runs.
The game was then placed in the collective hands of the Atlanta bullpen. AJ Minter got the ball for the 7th and took charge of Philly in no time to get the team to the eighth. Minter was originally going to get another batter in the eighth, but when Phillies manager Rob Thomson brought in Matt Vierling to replace Brandon Marsh, Brian Snitker countered and signed Raisel Iglesias.
Iglesias got the job done with little to no trouble in the eighth inning: he only allowed a single (which was limited to a single thanks to a one-on-one defensive play by Eddie Rosario) and Austin Riley even got an out for him making what is probably the best defensive play of his career thus far. Seriously, just watch it and tell me if you’ve seen it do better than that!
With the Braves unable to drive any more runs past the plate before the ninth inning, that meant Kenley Jansen was getting the ninth in a save situation. Kenley got the first two outs with no problem and the last out of the game was called into question after Travis d’Arnaud made what appeared to be the last out on a Bryce Harper foul. However, the umpires ruled that the ball touched the screen behind home plate, thus a foul ball was ruled.
Fortunately, we’re all spared the media rant of having to discuss that play over and over because Kenley Jansen struck out Bryce Harper to get the savings and even the series at one game each.
While going to Philly in a tight series with the next two games in hostile territory isn’t super ideal, it’s better than the alternative of absolutely having to win both games on the road just to stay alive. Instead, the Braves saw what the task was and did it. Kyle Wright was outstanding for six innings, the defense took a huge step forward (with Dansby Swanson and Austin Riley in particular making incredible plays), and the bullpen once again hit that postseason standard we’re all getting used to as Braves fans. . Overall, this was a very solid win for the Braves and they are now two more wins away from being one step closer to a World Series repeat.