Mike Soroka went seven strong innings and got victimized by an unlucky fourth inning (and one long home run to Max Kepler), but in the end, the Braves bullpen was up to its old tricks, just with a new cast of characters. New acquisition Chris Martin surrendered a ninth inning home run to Miguel Sano that was last seen approaching the outskirts of Saskatchewan.
With the loss, the Braves’ record is now 66-48, and the lead in the National League East could be as little as six games by the end of the night (the Nationals and Phillies are both playing on the West Coast this evening, so the results aren’t in yet).
Ender Inciarte left the game in the seventh inning with quad tightness. This was announced to be a precautionary measure, but we will keep you updated with any new information that comes down the pipeline.
The Braves outfield had a couple of fantastic plays in this game. Adam Duvall laid out for this one in the second inning:
A few innings later, Ronald Acuña, Jr. showed off his cannon arm in right field.
The early part of this game saw Odorizzi’s pitch count escalate, but the Braves were unable to break through. Soroka coasted through the first 3 ⅔ innings, then ran into some rotten BABIP-fueled luck. The Twins were able to string together four consecutive two-out singles in the fourth inning, the fourth of which - off the bat of Luis Arraez - brought home Nelson Cruz and Eddie Rosario. Through some ugly luck, it was 2-0 Twins.
Freddie Freeman got one of those runs back in the top of the fifth, depositing his 27th home run of the season into the left field seats. After Ronald Acuña hit his 27th HR yesterday, Freddie is now back even with him. With Josh Donaldson sitting at 26, it’s on him to catch up and keep the three-way game of cat-and-mouse going.
Unfortunately, the following inning, Max Kepler did that thing the Twins do best, and homered to center. It was his 31st of the year, and even with Soroka on the mound, it was only a matter of time before they went deep.
In the seventh, the Braves’ season long love affair with late inning chicanery continued. After an infield single from Acuña, and a passed ball from Jason Castro, Ozzie Albies roped a single to right that got by right fielder Jake Cave and allowed Acuña to trot home and bring the Braves within a run. Two batters later, Josh Donaldson got a first pitch curveball from Tyler Duffey and sprayed it into left center, scoring Ozzie from second and tying the game at 3.
Mark Melancon relieved Soroka in the eighth, and worked a clean inning, striking out two of Minnesota’s most dangerous hitters in Kepler and Cruz.
In the ninth inning, Freeman struck out with Ronald Acuña standing on second base, ending a threat. It was an unfortunate example of the Braves’ recent woes with runners in scoring position, and one that would come back to bite them.
Chris Martin, in his second appearance since being acquired from the Rangers, blew the save in the ninth, after giving up a bloop single to Luis Arraez and a walk-off home run to pinch hitter Miguel Sano. It was a towering blast, and we’ll let you know when it lands. Should be some time early next week.
These two teams will do it again tomorrow night at 8:10pm ET.