The Atlanta Braves dropped their eighth consecutive contest against the Blue Jays on Saturday, as Toronto scored three off A.J. Minter and Joe Jimenez late to win 5-2. The starting pitching mirrored each other as Bryce Elder went 5 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 3 K, and 2 ER. Meanwhile Blue Jays starter Jose Berrios went 5.2 IP, 6 H, 3 BB, 3 K, with his only two earned runs coming on a Marcell Ozuna two-run blast. The difference in the ballgame was the bullpens as Atlanta’s went three innings of three run ball, whereas Toronto went 3.1 scoreless innings of one hit baseball.
Marcell Ozuna continues to look like he has turned a corner as he kicked off the scoring when he deposited a two-run homer (112 mph exit velo) in the left field bleachers during the top of the second inning. Eddie Rosario scored on the play as his 57 mph infield single extended his hit streak to ten games. The Braves missed an opportunity to add to the lead in the third inning when Orlando Arcia had a lead off double. It was first and third with one out for Austin Riley, but unfortunately his struggles continued as Berrios struck him out then got Sean Murphy to ground out to end the threat.
Bryce Elder worked three scoreless innings to start his day despite some hard contact against him. Every ball the Blue Jays put in play in the first inning had an exit velocity over 100 mph, including the last out by Daulton Varsho which was a 104.1 mph flyout with an xBA of .800. Toronto’s first opportunity came in the bottom of the third when Kevin Kiermaier had a one-out cue shot double. Thankfully, Edler was able to get out unscathed by striking out George Spinger and getting some help from Austin Riley, who made a diving stop on a 105.8 mph groundout to rob Bo Bichette of a RBI knock.
Unfortunately, Elder couldn’t keep up the Houdini act for long as Toronto broke through in the fourth inning. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. led off the inning with a double, and eventually would score on Whit Merrifield’s weak groundout. However, Bryce was able to escape further damage when he struck out Brandon Belt looking and stranded a runner at second.
It seems the baseball gods decided to make up for the early hard contact outs off early on agaisnt Elder as Toronto tied the game at two in the fifth inning. The tying run came after another weak double from Kiermaier and a 64 mph RBI bloop single from Bichette. Funny enough that inning ended after a lengthy AB from Vladdy Jr. culminated in a 115 mph lineout to Orlando Arcia. BASEBALL.
It then became a battle of the bullpens. Atlanta squandered the first golden opportunity in the seventh. Ronald Acuña Jr. reached to start the inning then promptly stole second and third base during Matt Olson’s AB. Yimi Garcia then walked both Olson and Riley to load the bases for Atlanta with nobody out. Garcia then got a ground ball off the bat of Murphy to force out Ronald at home and keep the game tied. Toronto then called on Erik Swanson who saved the day by striking out Rosario and popping up Ozzie to escape the jam.
The Blue Jays took that momentum and capitalized by taking their first lead of the day in the bottom half of the seventh. Kiermaier started with, you guessed it another soft hit off Minter and got to third after a Springer single and steal of third base. Toronto then took the lead on a Bichette single and Vlad Jr. sac fly to make it 4-2 Blue Jays going into the eighth.
Toronto added some more insurance in the bottom of the eighth off Joe Jimenez thanks to an RBI double from Danny Jansen. Unfortunately, the Blue Jays bullpen was rock solid as Swanson and closer Jordan Romano finished off the Braves to emerge with a 5-2 victory. The Blue Jays have now won eight straight against Atlanta and will now go for the series sweep tomorrow afternoon.