Today was a really good day to be Tyler Flowers, huh? The veteran catcher signed a contract extension earlier today and then celebrated by coming off of the bench to hit a pinch-hit home run that basically put the Braves out of reach of the Rays.
The first segment of this game didn’t go too well for the Braves, as they fell into a two-run hole against Tampa by the time the bottom of the third inning had rolled around. The second and third innings were particularly rough for Julio Teheran, as things really could’ve gotten worse than they did for him. Instead, Teheran managed to work his way out of some sticky situations and only suffered a couple of sacrifice flies to his name.
It was good that Julio was able to keep the damage to a minimum because that kept the Braves in the game. Atlanta strung together a couple of singles and a walk, with the second of those singles being an RBI knock from Ender Inciarte to put the Braves on the board. Julio settled down considerably for the next two innings and the bottom of the fifth inning was when the Braves had their first offensive explosion of the night.
Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson both singled to lead off the fifth and then the Braves tied the game on a wacky play. Julio Teheran wanted to give Tampa an out, but the Rays must have felt undeserving of the gift because both Jake Bauers and Matt Duffy committed errors on the play, which allowed Albies to score and then Dansby scored after a sacrifice fly from Ronald Acuña Jr. Ender joined Julio on the basepaths and with two out, Nick Markakis brought them both home with a double that extended Atlanta’s lead to three.
Tampa Bay got two of those runs back in the very next frame after a homer from Brandon Lowe and that was the end of the night for Julio Teheran. The bullpen held the lead until the eighth inning, which is when the Rays small-balled their way back into tying the game. Tommy Pham ran out an infield single and then a sacrifice bunt from Kevin Kiermaier paved the way for Willy Adames to tie it at 5.
With the game tied at this late stage in the game, this was a very good time for the Braves to have their second offensive explosion of the night. Kurt Suzuki started things off by getting a free pass to first base the easy way for a change — by just taking four balls instead of getting hit by one. Then Ozzie Albies continued to claw his way out of a slump by hitting a double.
It only took one glance at the speed difference between Albies and Suzuki on the basepaths to realize that subbing Suzuki out for Adam Duvall was a no-brainer and that move ended up paying off in a huge way for the Braves. When Dansby Swanson grounded out to second, it seemed like a routine play. However, the threat of Ozzie taking third base on the play somehow distracted the Rays from paying attention to Adam Duvall, who ended up sliding into home to give the Braves the lead.
Then the man of the hour came up to the plate in pinch-hit duty, and Tyler Flowers deposited the third pitch he saw into the bullpen in right field to make it 8-5 Atlanta. Ender Inciarte added a solo shot of his own to push the lead to four runs.
A.J. Minter received the ball for the final frame and while the tying run did come to home plate, Minter was able to induce a grounder with the bases loaded and two outs to get the 27th out of the night — giving the Braves a big victory.
The win snaps what was an impressive eight-game winning streak for the Rays and this was also huge because the Phillies bullpen once again let themselves down and gave up a late lead to the Nationals. The Braves are now 4.5 games up in the East, which is the largest lead that they’ve had all season. Long may it last.