For 8 2⁄3 innings tonight, it was the Braves’ young battery of Tucker Davidson and William Contreras that were the shining starts in tonight’s game. However, it was another young player in the other dugout that stole the spotlight in the Phillies’ final at-bat that resulted in a heartbreaking loss for the Braves.
Davidson actually experienced a bit of a rocky start. After the Braves went down in order in the top of the first inning facing Zach Eflin, Davidson worked around a one out single and walk to keep the Phillies off the score board. Atlanta then decided to go to work in the top of the second inning, as an error, walk and single loaded the bases with not outs. Unfortunately, two groundouts and a strikeout followed, and the Braves could not make the most of an ideal opportunity early in the game.
Davidson allowed two more singles in the bottom of the second, but he once again worked out of trouble unscathed. After plenty of early activity, both Eflin and Davidson found their grooves. In the third inning, Eflin worked around a single while Davidson did not let an error from Austin Riley do any damage. Both pitchers worked around a double from the opposition in their half of the fourth inning. In the fifth, Eflin used a double play to sit the Braves down in order while Davidson followed with a 1-2-3 bottom half of the inning.
In the top of the sixth inning, the Braves finally broke through. Though a double play off the play of Riley resulted in two quick outs, Dansby Swanson, Abraham Almonte, and William Contreras each singled and Swanson scored as a result to make the score 1-0. It was Contreras’s third hit of the game, and he once again delivered in a clutch situation. He certainly has been a true asset to the offense in place of the injured Travis d’Arnaud.
Though he gave up a loud out to Andrew MuCutchen, Davidson once again retired the Phillies in order to end his night in the sixth inning. Over six innings, Davidson needed just 90 pitches to cruise in an outstanding performance, allowing only four hits, zero runs, one walk, and producing four strikeouts. Of those 90 pitches, 59 were strikes. In only his fourth career appearance, Davidson was truly impressive, and likely earned himself an extended look in the Braves rotation.
Unfortunately, the Braves could not support him with a win.
Ranger Suarez and Tyler Matzek did their jobs in the seventh inning as neither offense reached base. Suarez once again did his job in the top of the eighth inning, while Chris Martin pitching a perfect bottom of the eighth for the Braves. Suarez pitched a third perfect inning in the top of the ninth, capping off a great effort to keep the score at 1-0 in favor of the Braves. Will Smith took the mound in the bottom of the ninth inning, and immediately retired Rhys Hoskins on a strikeout.
After McCutchen walked, Brad Miller popped out for the second out. Luke Williams then stepped to the plate. Williams was called up yesterday and made his major league debut as a pinch-hitter last night, and received his first start tonight. Having already delivered a double earlier in the game, Williams once again delivered with a two-run home run off Smith that resulted in a last at-bat walk off win for the Phillies by the score of 2-1.
A dominant performance from Davidson will certainly carry value moving forward, but a devastating loss is obviously the key takeaway tonight. The Braves are now 0-5 in games this season when attempting to get above .500. The key is to not let the impact of this loss linger beyond tonight, as the Braves have little room for error in a critical part of the season. Hopefully, with an early start tomorrow, they will be ready to get a victory to win the series.