The Braves faced the Padres, looking to shrink the magic number of 8 over Philadelphia on Saturday night.
In the opening frame, the Braves were unable to capitalize on a Soler leadoff walk. Going into the home first, Trent Grisham hit a leadoff homer on Ynoa’s second pitch. Fortunately that was the only baserunner of the inning for San Diego. After another zero from the Atlanta offense, Ynoa allowed another solo home run in the second. Unfortunately, this was not the only baserunner of the inning in this instance, as Ynoa allowed a single and a double, still with no outs. A pop-up and two groundouts later, and the score was 3-0 to the Padres, heading into the third.
A leadoff walk from Dansby and an incredible fortunate shallow popup that landed for a single from Soler set up runners on first and second with one out in the top of the third. Freddie hit a ball hard for a lineout to left, but Ozzie came through with a single to right, scoring Dansby. Austin Riley came through with a single of his own to score Soler and move Ozzie to third, bringing up Adam Duvall with runners on the corners and two outs. Duvall grounded out in anticlimactic fashion, leaving the Padres with a 3-2 lead. Ynoa found himself with a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the inning.
After a quiet fourth from both offenses. The Braves got a gift in the fifth as Ozzie reached first on an error and moved to second on a balk. Austin Riley capitalized on the opportunity with a two out single that tied the game at 3. Ynoa got himself into a mess in the bottom of the fifth, with two singles and a hit batter. While it’s more than fair to argue Ynoa should have been out of the game by this point, he had a chance to get out of it against Manny Machado, but instead gave up a grand slam to make the score 7-3 San Diego. Minter came in and got the final out of the inning.
The Braves weren’t ready to die yet, however, as a d’Arnaud walk and a Swanson single put two runners on for the pinch-hitting Joc Pederson in the top of the sixth. Joc delivered a double to bring home one run and set the plate for Jorge Soler. Soler continued his torrid stretch for Atlanta after the trade deadline, hitting a three run homer to tie the game at 7. The home run turned out to not be a rally-killer, despite what some “analysts” might think, as Freddie and Ozzie followed Soler’s blast with two singles of their own, although Freeman was quite lucky to get a hit out of his batter ball with an xBA of .050. Alas, Austin Riley and Adam Duvall struck out, unable to bring them home, but the score was tied only an inning after the Padres hit a grand slam to go up by four, so no complaints will be heard here.
Chris Martin came in for the sixth and it wouldn’t be your 2021 Atlanta Braves without a bullpen disappointment, so he gave up a one out double and a single to give the Padres the lead once again. Martin was at least able to avoid giving up any more damage, as he got out of the inning with only a one run deficit. There were no baserunners for either team in the seventh, so good work from the pitchers, Luke Jackson on the Braves side. The trend continued through the eighth and while Tyler Matzek is deserving of some praise, Atlanta needed some baserunners to come back on the Padres.
The Braves finally got another baserunner in the ninth, in the form of a one out single by Austin Riley against old friend Mark Melancon. The baserunner turned into a run as Eddie Rosario came up clutch with a single to tie the game once again. Travis d’Arnaud made things even more interesting with a ball that appeared to land on the foul line for a double, but was ruled foul and upheld on the challenge. D’Arnaud flew out on the next pitch to send the game to the bottom of the ninth tied at 8. Richard Rodriguez got the ball in the ninth, and got two quick flyouts from the Padres’ 8 and 9 spots. He then gave up a double to Frazier to add just a little more stress to the situation. Atlanta intentionally walked Tatis to get to Pham, hoping to send the game to extras. The move succeeded, as Rodriguez got Pham to fly out.
On to extras we went, which was not a good feeling, given Atlanta’s struggles to score the zombie runner, but a chance to win is better than no chance. Dansby was the leadoff batter and got to a 2-0 count before putting out some really ugly swings and misses to strike out swinging at a pitch outside and in the dirt, in one of the worst at-bats you’ll see in a high leverage situation. Orlando Arcia came in to pinch hit and worked a walk, which is a pretty good result from him to turn the lineup over to the top. Soler delivered by absolutely vaporizing a ball at 115.2 MPH into the left field corner for a double. The Padres then intentionally walked Freddie to load the bases for Ozzie, still with one out. Ozzie hit a ball high and far, but had to settle for a sacrifice fly, rather than a homer, which is still a good outcome, giving Atlanta a 2 run lead. That would be all that Atlanta would get, as Austin Riley had a rough strikeout to hand the game to Will Smith with a two run lead and the zombie runner on second.
Smith struck out Machado on three pitches to lead off on the inning, with the final strike just grazing the corner of the plate. He then got Eric Hosmer to ground out, without the runner advancing, setting up a battle of Wills, as Will Smith faced off against Wil Myers. Smith got the better of the matchup, striking out Myers to complete a massive win in a wild game that the Braves never led before extra innings, but just refused to die.
Come back tomorrow for the final game in San Diego at 4:10 PM ET before the NL East showdown between the Braves and the Phillies in Atlanta.
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