As has been the recent trend, the Braves struggled to score runs in this game. They were shut down by Chad Kuhl, who entered play as the proud owner of a 5.16 ERA. Atlanta has struggled at various times throughout the season, but losing back-to-back games against the Pirates at this point of the season may be the lowest point. The silenced offense put the club in a tough situation late, and the Pirates eventually walked off against Tyler Matzek without recording an out, earning a 2-1 victory.
The Braves managed just five hits in this game, with their only run coming courtesy of a mammoth blast off the bat of Orlando Arcia. He continues to impress during a limited sample, finishing with two hits while representing the lone bright spot for an otherwise anemic offense.
As poorly as the offense performed, the pitching was only marginally better for the Braves. Ian Anderson drew the start and allowed eight baserunners in only five innings while striking out four batters. His command was lacking and the Pirates made him labor, much like the Mets did in his last outing. The only run to score against Anderson came courtesy of a Bryan Reynolds sac fly in the third inning, but he was hardly the best version of himself.
Meanwhile, the Pirates got another solid outing from a starting pitcher. Kuhl worked six innings, allowing just four hits with seven strikeouts. He lowered his ERA to 4.73 following what was undoubtedly his best performance of the season.
The Braves never really threatened in the late innings, but did manage to wiggle out of trouble in the eighth inning. AJ Minter allowed a deep flyout to open the frame, struck out the next batter, then allowed a line drive single to right field that caromed in and out of Ronald Acuna’s glove. The next two batters singled and walked, loading the bases with two outs. Minter was able to induce a weak groundout from Jared Oliva to escape the inning.
The Braves offense went down in order in the ninth, then sent Tyler Matzek to the hill for the bottom-half of the inning. Things went downhill almost immediately. After getting ahead of the leadoff hitter, Matzek managed to walk him to put the winning run on base. Adam Frazier followed with a single to left field, the Ke’Bryan Hayes walked to load the bases. Bryan Reynolds came to the plate with an opportunity to win the game and did so without ever having to swing the bat. Matzek missed wildly with all four pitches to Reynolds, walking in the winning run to give Pittsburgh a 2-1 win.
The Braves will look to salvage the finale before leaving town on Wednesday. Again, this was just a complete meltdown by the offense and perpetuates a season-long issue that has plagued the club. Losing multiple middle-of-the-order bats is tough, but this team has three All-Stars at the top of the order. Someone has to figure it out and get the wheel turning for this team. As it stands, the reigning NL East champs sit five games out of the division lead and things look especially bleak after this showing in Pittsburgh.