Drew Smyly pitched six strong innings while only giving up two runs against the Reds. His solid outing, a two-run homer from Adam Duvall and a bases-loaded walk by Stephen Vogt were enough for Atlanta to beat Cincinnati, 3-2.
It didn’t take long for there to be an interesting flashpoint in this one, as the Reds suddenly found themselves ahead by two runs in the second inning. This was after Drew Smyly thought he had struck out Joey Votto for the first out of the inning. The pitch was just barely outside, and Votto proceeded to slap the next pitch he saw from Smyly into right field for a double and then Aristides Aquino smashed one into the seats into left center field for a two-run shot. What could’ve been a comfortable situation for Smyly in that frame ended up being a big bump in the road for him.
Fortunately, the Braves didn’t waste much time getting those runs back. After spending the first three innings off of the scoreboard and getting struck out regularly by Sonny Gray, they finally cracked his code in the fourth inning. It was even more encouraging that the Braves pulled off the run-scoring rally with two outs on the board, as Dansby Swanson extended the inning by drawing a walk. That brought Adam Duvall to the plate, and it’s pretty obvious by now that this man just really enjoys hitting baseballs at Truist Park. Duvall slammed one over the fence in left field to tie the game at two runs apiece.
By the time the sixth inning had rolled around, the Braves had ran Sonny Gray from the game and it was their bullpen’s turn to carry the baton for Cincinnati. Things got off to a rocky start for Heath Hembree, who saw Austin Riley single on the first pitch Hembree threw in his outing. Dansby Swanson walked after that AB and after Duvall struck out, Hembree passed the baton to Amir Garrett. Unfortunately for Cincinnati, he picked up where Hembree left off. Garrett walked Joc Pederson to load the bases and then Stephen Vogt exhibited some really good patience to coax a walk out of Garrett after being down 0-2 in the count. The bases-loaded walk put the Braves in the lead, but they were unable to add on after that.
Jorge Soler hit a double in the seventh inning and made it all the way to third base, but was stranded there. Both teams stayed off of the scoreboard, so the score was 3-2 heading into the ninth inning. Will Smith was called upon to get the save, with this being his first outing since blowing a save against the Nationals over the weekend. This time, it still wasn’t easy for Smith as Kyle Farmer hit a double with one out and then Eugenio Suarez (with a 9.0 percent walk rate in 2021 going into this game) took a walk to serve as the potential go-ahead run.
Fortunately for us Braves fans, the baseball gods smiled down upon Will Smith. Mike Moustakas found himself in an 0-2 hole and ended up grounding one to Freddie Freeman, who tossed it to Dansby at second base and then Dansby tossed it back to Freddie at first to end the game right then and there.
Will Smith needed something to go right after that rough outing he had back on Saturday and he got just that with that game-ending double play. It was also an impressive night for Drew Smyly, who did a good job of limiting the damage over six strong innings against a very dangerous Reds lineup. The Braves are playing some good baseball at the moment and they just started off a series against a pretty good team with a close win. If Atlanta continues to win and things keep on working out in the Braves’ favor elsewhere in the division, then things will finally start looking really good and familiar for our Braves after spending months of struggling.