Strider Settling In, Offensive Explosion powers Braves past Athletics

SAN DIEGO, CA - APRIL 17: Spencer Strider #65 of the Atlanta Braves pitches in the seventh inning against the San Diego Padres on April 17, 2022 at Petco Park in San Diego, California. (Photo by Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - APRIL 17: Spencer Strider #65 of the Atlanta Braves pitches in the seventh inning against the San Diego Padres on April 17, 2022 at Petco Park in San Diego, California. (Photo by Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images) /
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Coming off possibly the most important day for Braves baseball in 2022, the  Atlanta Braves finish their 2-game series against the Oakland Athletics.

The Atlanta Braves, who are 21-5 in their last 26 games, looked to continue their red-hot play as well as their perfect September in the final game of the short series against the Athletics. Despite the less than satisfying 10-9-win Tuesday night in the first game of the series, there was still some celebrating amongst the Braves.

The Braves victory and Mets loss Tuesday night gave the Braves the same record as the Mets, meaning they are tied with the Mets for first place in the NL East. While this was big news for a team that fell more than 10 games behind the Mets just a few months ago, there is still more work to solidify that first-place spot.

On the mound for the Braves Wednesday afternoon was Spencer Strider. Strider, who has been having a fantastic rookie year, threw a record-breaking game in his last start against the Rockies.

Spencer threw 8 innings, giving up only 1 hit and striking out 16 batters in his last outing in Atlanta, a Braves single game record.

Strider started the game off slowly, missing off the plate with a lot of pitches. Each of the first 3 batters Strider faced ended up with full counts, with the first and third batter being walked and the 2nd hitter lining out to center field. Former Brave Stephen Vogt, who played 26 games with the Braves in 2021, knocked a double off the wall in left center bringing one runner home and leaving the bases second and third with one out.

Athletics center fielder Ramon Laureano followed the double with an RBI groundout to shortstop. Strider walked one more batter off another 3-2 count before ending the inning with his first strikeout of the game.

Strider had a very long first inning pitch-wise, which has been area of improvement for him, throwing 36 pitches. However he quickly settled down after the first, retiring 7 straight batters, including 3 strikeouts, on 25 pitches.

Strider continued his great work post-1st inning in the 4th inning, striking out the side on 15 pitches. Strider did not hit 100 MPH once in the first 3 innings but hit the 3-digit mark on his fastball three times in the 4th inning.

The offensive impact in the first 4 innings for the Braves was extremely minimal, with only 1 Brave reaching base successfully, that being Travis d’Arnaud who hit a groundball down the 3rd base line for an infield single.

The 2nd base runner of the game for the Braves would once again be Travis d’Arnaud who was hit in the knee by a slider from A’s starter Ken Waldichuk. Travis was ok to stay in the game and run the bases, though he did not have to do more than jog, as rookie Vaughn Grissom followed his 4-hit night on Tuesday with a 2-run slam Wednesday afternoon to tie the game in the 5th.

Spencer Strider kept dominating after the first inning, only needing 10 pitches to close out the 5th inning, in which he retired his 11th, 12th, and 13th straight batter.

The Braves broke the tie in the top of the 6th with a towering solo homerun from Dansby Swanson which landed on the stairs in left field. Dansby was able to showcase his great ability to turn on a ball, sending the high fastball out of the park.

Strider was brought back out to throw the 6th inning which was quite incredible considering how long his first inning was. Strider’s streak of A’s hitters sat down in a row ended at 15, after Stephen Vogt singled up the middle with 2 outs in the 6th inning. In a fitting end, Strider ended his outing striking out Ramon Laureano, Strider’s 9th strikeout of the game.

Even after Strider threw his last pitch of the game, the Braves rookies kept it coming in the 7th. Vaughn Grissom got the offense going in the 7th with a line drive into left field for a single, followed by Michael Harris who extended his hitting streak to 14 games by beating the shift, chopping a groundball into left field.

With runners on second and first with 1 out, Marcell Ozuna lined a Single into left field, bringing Grissom home and Harris to third base. The bottom of the lineup has continuously helped this Braves offense score runs, this time with Robbie Grossman who smoked a double into the right center gap, bringing both Michael Harris and Marcell Ozuna.

The Braves kept piling on in the 7th inning with a Ronald Acuña groundball single into right field which scored Robbie Grossman from second base.

The Athletics were finally able to end the top of the 7th inning, but not before the Braves notched 5 hits and 4 runs in the inning.

Collin McHugh was brought in to pitch the 7th inning and continued to pile the strikeouts on the Athletics. After walking the lead-off batter on a few close balls, McHugh proceeded to strikeout the next 3 hitters to end the 7th inning.

Tyler Matzek was elected to be the Braves reliever in the 8th and did his job. Despite giving up a homerun to Seth Brown, Matzek was still able to get out of the 8th inning with 2 strikeouts.

The Braves were able to amass a few hits in the 8th and 9th innings but unable to generate any real pressure on the A’s pitchers or any runs.

With the game being 7-3 heading into the bottom of the 9th, Braves reliever Raisel Iglesias was brought in to close out of the game. Though his 2022 stats show him having a solid season, since joining the Braves, Raisel has been lights out and that did not change in Wednesday’s game. Iglesias threw a quick 10 pitches to get 3 outs, including a check swing strikeout to close the game.

With Wednesday’s win, the Braves record moves to 86-51. Braves are once again tied with the Mets for first place, though the Mets play game two of their double header against the Pirates Wednesday night to decide who will be first place in the division.

Atlanta will have an off-day Thursday which they will use to travel to Seattle for a 3-game series against the Mariners, one of the hottest teams in the league. Charlie Morton is expected to face off against Robbie Ray Friday night, which should be a great pitching matchup against two probable playoff teams.