The Braves scored four runs in the 11th after scoring two through the first ten innings to win their fourth straight game.
Last night, the Braves won only the second game to go scoreless in regulation at Coors Field with a three-run tenth. Tonight, with a chance to win their fourth in a row and clamber back to .500, they did something pretty similar, scoring four in the 11th to top the Rockies by a 6-2 score. After falling behind early and blowing an extra-inning lead, back-to-back two-out doubles and Adam Duvall’s two-run homer gave Atlanta their 27th win of the season.
The big story at the start of the game was Spencer Strider’s second career start, but it didn’t really end up factoring in to the game decision too much. Strider really struggled in full counts — he didn’t throw a single strike in a full count the whole night, and while his stuff was nasty enough to get four strikeouts in those situations, it also led to four walks. In total, Strider collected five of each in his four innings of work.
Strider didn’t actually allow a hit until the fourth, but he did load the bases on walks in the third, where he was bailed out by Dansby Swanson making a slick play on a Ryan McMahon grounder to end the frame. The next inning was less fortuitous, as a couple of singles and a two-out walk loaded the bases before a wild pitch scored the first run of the game. Strider was able to escape further damage thanks to Charlie Blackmon pounding a fastball into the ground towards Ozzie Albies, but left the game with a fairly uninspiring line and a slim deficit.
The Braves, meanwhile, were utterly flummoxed by Kyle Freeland. Austin Riley barely missed a homer in the first and had to settle for a .980 xBA two-out triple to dead center, but was stranded on a Matt Olson flyout. The Braves wouldn’t get another baserunner until Riley reached again in the fourth on a routine grounder whose throw was airmailed to first. Ozzie Albies later singled with two out to put men on the corners, but Freeland blew Marcell Ozuna away with a high fastball to end that frame. After falling behind due to the wild pitch, the Braves tried to rally, with William Contreras drawing a leadoff walk and advancing on a Duvall single, but Freeland then got three outs on eight pitches to preserve Colorado’s lead.
Starting in the fifth, the Braves’ bullpen went to work, and continued to stifle the Rockies’ bats. Jesse Chavez worked two perfect innings, getting six groundouts with none of them exceeding a .450 xBA. Collin McHugh followed with 1 2⁄3 perfect innings of his own; he was lifted with two outs in the eighth for Will Smith to set up a lefty-lefty matchup. Smith walked the lefty batter he was brought in to face, but struck out Brendan Rodgers. Darren O’Day hurled a scoreless ninth.
That keen relief work let the Braves tie the game on Austin Riley’s homer off Freeland to lead off the sixth, and keep them from falling behind as the offense didn’t do much else in regulation. Freeland finished with seven innings of one-run, five-hit, 3/1 K/BB ratio ball; the Braves got a Michael Harris II double with two outs in the seventh, but even seeing Freeland for a fourth time, all Ronald Acuña Jr. could do was go down swinging. Tyler Kinley and Daniel Bard had little trouble with the Braves in the eighth and ninth, respectively.
So, onto extras, and ye olde Manfredball. The tenth went fine offensively, as Harris reached on an infield single that was kicked around at first, and Acuña chipped in a sacrifice fly to make it a 2-1 game. With Kenley Jansen getting the day off, A.J. Minter was asked to keep the freely-awarded runner at second and nail down the win, but Elias Diaz led off the bottom half of the inning with a roller through the right side to tie the game. A couple of groundouts later, one turned into a double play on a great pick by Dansby Swanson, Minter was out of it, but the Braves had work to do to win their fourth straight.
Fortunately, they did actually do that work. The 11th started off horribly, as Olson and Albies flew out against two-time former Brave Jhoulys Chacin. But, not to worry: Marcell Ozuna crushed a 1-1 Chacin pitch over the center fielder’s head to break the 2-2 tie. Contreras followed with a double of his own that barely stayed fair down the left-field line. And Adam Duvall capped it with this:
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) June 5, 2022
Jackson Stephens wrapped up the highly effective relief slate for Atlanta by getting the Rockies in order to end the game, stranding the free runner at third.
The Braves really used a team effort to prevail in this one — Acuña and Swanson went 0-for-9 at the top of the order, but everyone else got a hit, and the lower half of the order broke through in the 11th. The defense and bullpen picked up Strider during and after his four-inning start, and the Braves will play tomorrow (well, later today) with a chance to go for the sweep and move above .500 for the first time since the third game of the season.