Atlanta heads to Philadelphia to start the first of a four-game series against the Phillies. The Braves will have a busy Monday with a doubleheader on the schedule. Charlie Morton will get his 28th start of the season, catching fire as of late.
The 15-year vet has allowed only three runs in his last five games. Over the season, Morton owns a 3.32 ERA, going 14-11. He will match up with Taijuan Walker, who has been knocked around, yet has gone 15-5 with a 4.15 ERA.
The bats will seek to get runs early, getting into a resurgent Phillies bullpen. Ronald Acuña Jr. has been heating up, with his eyes set on the coveted 40/70 season. Acuña has hit six homers since the start of the month, keeping his pace on par for the season. Paired with Matt Olson, both have been increasing their contact rate, and pushing their respective MVP narratives.
Only four pitches in, and there was some controversy. Acuña took a ball on the outside plate, causing, a called ball that caused both Walker and Garret Stubbs to become visibly frustrated. The next pitch led to a lead-off walk for Ronald before Ozzie Albies hit a line drive foul just outside the right-field line.
Eventually, the Phillies would get a strikeout while throwing out Acuña at second for a double play. With two outs, Austin Riley came to the plate, drilling a ball to deep center off the wall. The ball ricocheted by both outfielders into left field. Jake Cave then fumbled the ball, leading to Riley rounding third. An off throw at the plate, and Riley was easily safe at home for the inside-the-parker. It was scored a triple with an error, but the run put the Braves up 1-0.
Morton started with two quick outs in the bottom of the first, flying out Schwaber and striking out Trea Turner. Bryce Harper entered the box, and then Morton started losing some of his control. Charlie threw ten balls on his next eleven pitches, walking Harper and Bohm. D'Arnaud went to the mound to calm him down, eventually striking out Bryson Stott to end the first.
Both teams would go 1-2-3 in the second, then the Braves came back up in the top of the third. Michael Harris II hit a double to center to put a runner on second with one out. Acuña followed, getting jammed, dropping a soft fly ball to to right field and bringing home Harris.
In his second attempt to steal a base, Stubbs threw a ball into the outfield, allowing Acuña to take third. Walker came back, popping out Albies on a 3-0 count, and striking out Riley. However, the Braves were now up 2-0.
The Phillies bounced back in the bottom of the third. Morton got a quick one-pitch out, then Schwarber blooped a single to left. An out later brought up Harper, whom Morton was pitching very carefully. Working it to a full count, Bryce walked, then Alec Bohm hit a double to center. Harris fumbled the ball, leading to two runs and tying it up 2-2.
Atlanta put pressure on the Phillies in the fourth but with no luck. Matt Olson took a seven-pitch walk to put a runner on board with no outs. The "big bear," Marcell Ozuna, followed with the exact same at-bat, walking on seven pitches. With pressure building on Walker, Rosario worked a 2-0 count before fouling out to Bohm. The next batter, d'Arnaud, hit a fly-out to center, moving the runners to second and third. Arcia hit into the third out on a soft grounder to third, unfortunately keeping the Philly lead.
Charlie mowed down the Phillies in three consecutive ABs to bring Atlanta back up for the fifth. Harris started off getting hit in the back, bringing back up Acuña. Ronald moved Harris to second on a soft groundout to second. Ozzie Albies followed, making up for his previous at-bat, hammering a ball to the right field wall.
The double brought home Harris, making the game 3-2. For the second time in the inning, Walker hit a batter, putting Riley at first. Seemingly wanting to face Olson. Matt made Walked pay, clearing the bases on a double to make the game 5-2 Atlanta.
The Phillies started the bottom of the fifth, hitting a single to Schwarber. Morton would then strike out Trea Turner on a nasty curve before Harper hit a single to Acuña. Alec Bohm got his third RBI, knocking a broken-bat single off Albies' glove and putting runners at the corners.
Bryson Stott followed, hitting a typical fly-ball to right, but was lost in the sun. It dropped in front of Acuña, bringing in a run. Bohm, rounding third, made a play home but was thrown out on a bullet to home, keeping the game 5-4.
Philadelphia tried to stretch Walker as long as possible, who was coming into the sixth with over 100 pitches. Getting the first out on d'Arnaud, the Braves chased Taijuan with a double from Arcia. Michael Harris came up vs. Andrew Bellatti, hammering his 15th homer 444 ft into the centerfield shrubbery.
As the Braves love to do, on the next pitch, Ronald Acuña Jr. knocked a no-doubter to left field for his 36th of the year on the next pitch. The game now at 8-4 Atlanta, Bellatti was able to get out of the inning after some Philly boos.
The bottom of the sixth was the last for Morton. He threw two quick outs in what looked to be a relatively stress-free inning. Charlie walked Cave to put a runner on but returned to strike out Stubbs, ending his day.
The reliable righty pitched fairly well, giving up four runs (one could be debated as a team error) and quickly getting the first two outs of most innings. He slightly struggled with getting the third out, giving up a few walks and runs. Still, he was able to go deep into the game while putting himself in a position for the win.
After a 1-2-3 top of the seventh, Dylan Lee came in after the stretch. Philly took advantage of the pitching change, with Schwarber taking a walk, and then Harper hitting a homer to left center. The home run brought the score 8-6, chasing Lee after the next out. Joe Jimenez came to replace Lee, getting the next two outs.
Another slow inning for the Braves bats brought out A.J. Minter. Minter looked excellent, nabbing two strikeouts and getting a routine groundball to bring on the final inning. The Braves got their first baserunner in nine batters with a Riley single in the ninth. Olson followed with a fielder's choice, then Ozuna got a groundball off a check swing to bring up the Phillies 9-1-2 hitters.
Raisel Iglesias came out for the save, getting Stubbs to fly out to Rosario for the first out. Schwarber followed with another pop-out to center. Only one out away, the streaking Trae Turner came to the plate and hit a soft ground ball to Albies. Turner beat out the ground ball on a wide throw from Ozzie, bringing up Harper. One pitch later, Harper smashed a ball to center, tying the game at 8-8.
For some positive, we got some more free baseball in the doubleheader, and the Braves didn't seem fazed. Forrest Wall came in to pinch run for Ozuna, while Kevin Pillar pinch-hit for Rosario. Pillar immediately hit a single down the center to bring home Wall, giving the Braves back the lead.
A wild pitch moved Pillar up to second before Alvarado struck out d'Arnaud. Atlanta kept striking, as Arcia nailed a double to left field, scoring Pillar to make it 10-8. With the two massive runs, Harris and Acuña grounded out, giving the Phillies their last chance.
Kirby Yates came in for the second save attempt. Yates started with a hard ground out to third, keeping Bohm at second. For the second out, he struck out former Brave Christian Pache, swinging on a 95 mph fastball to the outside part of the plate. While the Phillies came back on their last out previously, Yates would be too much as he struck out Castellanos for the win.
It was a hard-fought win to beat the Phillies, coming down to the final out twice. The bats scored runs in almost every way imaginable while pitching had some difficulty getting clutch outs. Nevertheless, it was an exciting game that provided a bit of everything. Acuña inched closer to his 40/70 season, and the lineup stays hot going into game two.
Pitchers of Record
Raisel Iglesias: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 15 NPIT
L: Taijuan Walker: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 103 NPIT
Charlie Morton: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 103 NPIT
Dylan Lee: 0.1 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 8 NPIT
Joe Jimenez: 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 11 NPIT
A.J. Minter: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 13 NPIT
Kirby Yates: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 14 NPIT
Ronald Acuña Jr. ( 36 )
Michael Harris II ( 15 )
Bryce Harper ( 16, 17 )
September 11th vs. Philadelphia Phillies, 6:40 p.m. EST on BSSE