Atlanta Braves gain a Sunday split in Cincy

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Kyle Muller (66) throws a pitch against the Cincinnati Reds. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Kyle Muller (66) throws a pitch against the Cincinnati Reds. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports /

The Atlanta Braves held their own again in the finale of a road series against a challenging Reds team.

As usual, we have gotten to the end of a series in which the Atlanta Braves should be thinking that they could have done more.

At the same time, the bigger picture suggests that a 2/2 split on the road against a team having a better record really isn’t a bad outcome.

If you’re looking at the competition, this weekend has also resulted in a “push” — the Phillies/Mets and Marlins/Nationals all split their own 4-gamers, so over the past four days… nothing has changed in the NL East.

3 Braves Takeaways from Sunday

It was thus just one more game on Sunday afternoon on the banks of the Ohio River, but there were multiple points of note in what would become a 4-0 victory:

3.  Maybe the fielders should review some fly ball protocols?

Twice in this game — and on multiple other occasions recently — the Braves nearly had a fielding disaster.

In particular, Kyle Muller was charged with a single hit against his pitching line over five very strong innings.

However, that “hit” was a pop fly into shallow right field that should have been caught be somebody.  Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, and Ronald Acuna all converged to the same spot with no one seeming to either back off or take charge.

In the end, Acuna got his glove on the ball, but without the conviction of purpose to catch it, the ball flopped out and found the grass.

The real problem is that if this keeps up, somebody is going to get hurt.  Still fresh in mind is an incident from close to a decade ago when Jason Heyward and Tyler Pastornicky banged knees together on a similar play.  Pastornicky popped a ligament as a result.

Late in today’s game, there was a shot to the Left-center warning track that Heredia caught only because he’s taller than Inciarte.  But it was another contested ball that could have fallen for extra bases — and potentially changed the game’s outcome.

2. The bullpen is showing signs of life?

Once Kyle Muller was excused from further activity, five relievers handled the remaining 4 innings.

Between them, their line was:  4 IP, 1 hit, 2 BB, 5K, 0 runs.

Shane Greene had a couple of balls hit hard, but still got through a second consecutive day without significant trouble (2 innings, 1 hit, 2 strikeouts).

Will Smith looked every bit the dominating closer with 2 strikeouts as part of a 1-2-3 ninth inning.

1. Kyle Muller?  The Braves would like you to stick around.

There are teams that should be seriously scary to pitchers.  The Rockies in Denver (even today).  The Yankees in New York.  The Astros and Dodgers… anywhere.

The Reds at home have to be another such club… even with an 18-18 home record.

They are built for their stadium:  lots of power and guys that are hitting for average.

Kyle Muller didn’t care.

Nick Castellanos is the National League’s leading hitter.  He’s already had one long hit streak this year, and was working on another (6 games).

It’s over.

Muller wasn’t terribly efficient, throwing 93 pitches in 5 innings, but he walked just 2 and punched out nine Reds hitters while keeping all of that lineup off the scoreboard.

It was an impressive showing, and one that got him a well-deserved first MLB win as a starter.

Muller seemed to have the Reds guessing all day, and the results indicate that their guesswork failed at most turns.

So congrats to him:  he’s showing that the promotion was well-earned.

The Braves definitely needed somebody to step up in the wake of recent injuries, and Muller — so far — is doing just that.

Little doubt that he’s going to continue to get chances every fifth day for while.


  • Ronald Acuna Jr.:   RBI Double, homer (his 21st).  Ho-hum.
  • Freddie Freeman:  yet another RBI.
  • Austin Riley:  homer, single and continued destruction of baseballs

Riley may be acquiring Freeman’s penchant for drilling balls for outs, but he’s still getting a few to fall in for hits on occasion.

Here’s Riley’s exit velocities for th entire Reds’ series (not necessarily in order):  73.2, 101, 104.6, 94.8, 112.7, 109.9, 84.5, 103.9, 74.4, 100.0, 106.0, 99.8, 106.9 with just 3 strikeouts.

Yes:  eight EV’s above 100 mph (and 1 more than rounds to 100).  Yet he only got 4 hits out of these.  Still… he’s clearly seeing the ball very well right now.

Next. Mike dropped. dark

That’s a wrap from Ohio:  the Atlanta Braves are off for Monday before welcoming in the Mets.  That’ll be fun.