The Braves have been stuck in constant oscillation between winning and losing every other game in the thirteen games since the all-star break, but after a loss last night, they entered Saturday hoping for that streak to continue for one more game.
The game began with a deep fly ball from Kolten Wong off of Muller to right-center, which induced a nice athletic grab by debutant Jorge Soler. Another easier flyout to Soler and a Muller strikeout ended the top of the first scoreless. Freeman managed a single in the bottom of the first, but a nice defensive play from Urias at third got Riley out to keep the Braves scoreless. Some bad BABIP luck and a hit batter got Muller in some big trouble in the second, with the bases loaded and one out. He got a potential double-play ball to Riley, but Albies bobbled it on the turn, allowing one run to score. Muller induced a soft groundout from Woodruff to end the inning with only one run scored, despite the highest xBA ball of the inning being .360. In the bottom of the second, Soler had his first hit as a Brave in a single, and Vogt hit a single of his own, but Muller struck out to end the inning.
Whether angry about the run conceded, his strikeout at the plate, or something else entirely, Muller did not mess around and struck out the side rapidly in the third. Woodruff silenced the Braves offense in his own right in the bottom of the frame. Muller dealt with some traffic in the fourth, with two walks and a single, but got out of it scoreless. A leadoff walk by Riley, supplemented with singles from Soler and Dansby scored Atlanta’s first run and tied the game up in the fourth and brought up Vogt, with runners on first and second with one out. Vogt and Muller were unable to bring any more runs home, however, so the game headed into the fifth tied.
Muller worked around a Wong one out single to work a scoreless fifth with two strikeouts. Joc Pederson got on base with a HBP to lead off the bottom of the fifth and Ozzie followed him with a double, advancing to third on the relay home as Pederson attempted to score, but was thrown out on a nice relay by Milwaukee (although the catcher appeared to be blocking the plate). Freddie and Austin were unable to bring Ozzie home from third, so the game stayed tied at 1-1. Jesse Chavez came in after five strong innings from Muller and ran into some trouble, partially due to an error of his own, but escaped the inning unscathed. Adam Duvall singled in the bottom sixth and Dansby came through, homering off of Woodruff’s 100th pitch and giving Atlanta a 3-1 lead (after what was almost certainly a missed strike three call by CB Bucknor).
Matzek came in and shut it down in the seventh, working around a walk. Singles from Ozzie and Freddie followed by a walk from Riley loaded the bases with one out for Duvall, who was unable to deliver. Soler came up to the plate with the bases still loaded and hit an infield single to score Albies. Dansby then came up to the plate and hit a grand slam as his second homer of the night. Vogt lined out to end the inning, but the damage had been done.
Deadline acquisition Richard Rodriguez came in to pitch the eighth and gave up a leadoff single. Rodriguez got a flyout but then gave up another single to Lorenzo Cain. Fortunately, he got a perfect double-play ball from Urias that was turned to end the inning. Joc hit a weak double with a .110 xBA before Ozzie lined out with a .660 xBA because #baseball, and Freddie reached on a fielding error that advanced Pederson to third, giving Atlanta runners on the corners for Riley, who flew out.
Will Smith came in to finish out the game, despite a seven run lead, and worked around a single and an Austin Riley error for a scoreless inning to finish out the Braves win.
We’ll be back for the rubber-match of the series tomorrow at 1:20 pm ET.