Braves Drop Series Finale to Reds Despite Pitching Gem from Charlie Morton
After two strong wins over the Cincinnati Reds, The Braves looked to Charlie Morton for the sweep Sunday afternoon.
After a historic month of June for Atlanta where the Braves won 21 games, the Braves looked continue that great play into July starting with a series against the Reds. After two strong wins over the Reds which put them only 2.5 games behind the Mets in the division race, the Atlanta Braves sought the sweep over the Reds in Cincinnati.
On the mound for Atlanta on Sunday was Charlie Morton, who although has had a very shake start to the year, has been pitching excellent since the start of June. Atlanta was looking for another strong start for Morton, and he did not disappoint.
Charlie starting off the game perfectly, and I mean perfectly. In his first 4 innings he retired all 12 batters he saw, 6 of those being strikeouts.
The first 3 innings for the Braves were relatively quiet for Atlanta, with only 2 hits being posted, both being singles from Ronald Acuña and Austin Riley.
Atlanta was the first team to strike, coming from a left field home run via Marcell Ozuna, his first home run in quite a few games. A good sign from the slugger, who has not been having quite the year he has hoped for.
A Joey Votto leadoff walk in the 5th inning ended Charlie Morton’s perfect game, but that did not stop his incredible outing. He would go on to quickly retire the next two batters and then pick off Votto at first, ending the 5th.
Morton would proceed to breeze through the 6th inning, making it his 6th straight three up three down innings.
The offense remained quiet after the Marcell Ozuna, with only a couple hits coming after the 4th. Austin Riley and Ronald Acuña were both able to tally another hit. On top of the multi hit day for Acuña, he also stole bases, a very good sign for a player who has been suffering from injuries all season.
Unfortunately for Charlie Morton, his no hit bid ended in the 7th inning after a leadoff single from Max Schrock. Despite the leadoff single, he was able to keep his team up 1-0 with another great inning ending with a Joey Votto struck out.
Morton ended with 10 strikeouts and a hit and a walk, an extremely impressive start from Morton who has been dealing as of late. If he can continue the great performances he has been stringing along, the Braves starting rotation will be extremely robust come November.
Colin McHugh was brough in for relief in the 8th and did not have the inning I’m sure he intended. McHugh started the inning striking out Mike Moustakas, a great start, however it only got worse.
The Reds would tack on 3 straight singles tying the game at 1, before Brandon Drury, who was placed into the game as a pinch hitter, knocked a double into right field, bringing home two more runs.
McHugh would get the next two hitters to fly out to end the inning, but not before the Reds took a 3-1 lead entering the ninth.
There is one thing the Braves refuse to do, and that is give up. No matter what circumstance, they will find a way to get back into a game or at least cut it close, and they did that Sunday.
The Braves wasted no time cutting the lead down, with a leadoff homerun by Marcel Ozuna, his second of the game, bringing the score to 3-2. Hunter Strickland, Reds closer, would quickly retire the next two batters.
Down to the last out, Michael Harris blasted a homerun to right field, tying the game. Harris, who has been one of the best rookies in the game this year, came in to hit his 4th homerun of the year at just the right time.
A.J. Minter was elected to pitch the ninth in hopes of retaining the tie game and move into extra innings. Minter, who has been one of the best relievers in all of baseball this year, seemed to not have Sunday.
Tommy Pham led off the Reds with a single to left, putting the winning run on first. Pham was able to move to second base on a fielding blunder by Dansby Swanson which should have resulted in Pham being thrown out.
After a long at bat, Joey Votto would end up walking putting runners on first and second. Minter was able to get Votto to pop up into foul ground before the walk but due to some miscommunication, the ball was not caught.
The Reds would then bring in Jonathon India to pitch hit, who was hit on the 2nd pitch of the at bat. With the bases now loaded, it would take perfection to get out of this.
The Braves were unable to navigate the bases loaded situation, allowing Albert Almora Jr. to hit a groundball between Austin Riley and Dansby Swanson, walking off the game for the Reds 4-3.
Despite an incredible outing from Charlie Morton and some late game efforts, the Braves were unable to hold onto the lead and finish the series sweep.
With a Mets win Sunday afternoon, the Braves lead moves back to 3.5 games. The Atlanta Braves now sit at 46-34.
They will comtinue play tomorrow back in Atlanta against the St. Louis Cardinals. Kyle Wright is slated to face off against Dakota Hudson at 7:20 PM EST.