PHILADELPHIA – With 102 games to go, the Braves are hoping to avoid the frustration experienced in the last two months, but especially in the last two days at Citizens Bank Park.
“It was a challenge the first couple of months,” said first baseman Freddie Freeman. “You can let it go one way, but I think we’re too good a team to let it go like that. So I think we’ll keep fighting, we’ll keep fighting and we’ll be back here soon. “
Freeman expressed this hope shortly after Atlanta (29-31) lost a lead in the 10th inning and suffered a second-game defeat in a row. The Braves’ attempt to win the three-game streak vanished when Chris Martin allowed the Phillies to build a three-point tenth place and a 4-3 win on Thursday afternoon.
“[Martin] he just didn’t run pitches, “said Braves manager Brian Snitker.” That’s pretty much it. [Alec] Bohm and he got too much of the pot for [Odúbel] Herrera. If you don’t, you’ll get hurt. “
Martin entered this series finale having allowed five runs out of 29 2/3 innings dating back to the start of the 2020 season. When healthy and okay, he’s one of the baddest and most reliable pain relievers in the game. But this just wasn’t his day.
The automatic runner placed on second base to start tenth went to third on a pass ball charged to Kevan Smith before scoring on Bohm’s single RBI.
The Phillies had given away two points at the top of the tenth inning, with one score on a crazy pitch and another on a pass. But after taking the lead and adding an insurance run, Atlanta managed to squander its two-point lead. Herrera followed Bohm’s single with a double, then ran home to Jean Segura’s single from the left midfield wall.
Segura’s victory came about 18 hours after Will Smith got close to Braves, who surrendered to Luke Williams’ home run with two outs in ninth place in Wednesday’s 2-1 defeat. As a result, the energy created by last weekend’s series win over the Dodgers and Tuesday’s comeback win over the Phillies evaporated.
“You would have thought we were leaving after the last two games against LA and the first game here,” said Freeman. “But this is a difficult game. Whenever you feel like you’re getting some momentum this year, we’re pushed back a couple of steps. “
When the Braves claimed victory on Tuesday night, there was reason to wonder if they had finally found their tipping point. They had beaten Clayton Kershaw, Trevor Bauer and Aaron Nola in three consecutive games. Plus, their bullpen created encouragement at the end of the series against the Dodgers.
But Zach Eflin stifled what was a maddening attack in Atlanta on Wednesday night and Zack Wheeler showed his dominant form by posting 12 strikeouts out of eight unscored innings on Thursday. Wheeler’s effort was matched by Ian Anderson, who bounced from a 26 pitch first inning to pitch seven goalless innings.
But Anderson’s contributions were not rewarded. The Atlanta offense went for 18 consecutive innings without scoring before Freeman hit a home run against Héctor Neris with an out in ninth place. The solo shot was the 14th home run of the season for the reigning NL MVP.
“It has been a strange year; that’s an understatement, “Snitker said.” There are years like this, where it always seems to face challenges. “
The Braves were one step away from earning their first win record of the season on Wednesday night. When they left Philadelphia on Thursday night, it looked like they were miles back from where they wanted to be this part of the season.
“It was an absolute roller coaster,” Freeman said. “This is what drives you crazy in this game. But it also keeps you coming back. “