Coming off a three-game skid, the Braves look to get back to their winning ways against the Pittsburgh Pirates. While the Pirates are ten games below .500, they have played much better since the break going 10-7. The Braves, who have been hitting for power, will look to create an uncomfortable night for Pirates pitcher Mitch Keller. Keller has lost four straight, giving up 24 runs in that span.
Atlanta pitcher Yonny Chirinos will get the start. The right-hander will be making his third appearance since joining the team, with the Bravos winning both outings. Snitker will be relying on Chirinos to go deep in the game to give the bullpen a much needed break after the last few games
Ronald Acuña Jr. started the game off hot, hitting a 463-ft shot to deep center. Acuña, who had a slower performance in game one, set the tone on the second pitch of the at-bat, knocking his 26th bomb on the season. After a pop-out from Ozzie Albies, Austin Riley took the count full, and eventually wore a pitch on the shoulder to take a base. Two batters later, Travis d'Arnaud hit a scorching line drive to left field, putting runners on first and second. However, that would be the extent of the damage after a Marcell Ozuna soft ground out to short. Still, a great first inning with Atlanta up 1-0.
The lead would only last for the half-inning, as the Bucs immediatly strung some baserunners together. Chirinos got a quick out on his first pitch of the day, then walked the next two batters. After an efficient strike-out, Ke'Bryan Hayes came to the plate, hitting a three-run homer to put the Pirates up 3-1. Although Pittsburgh didn't add any more runs, they batted two clean singles before a soft pop-fly to Albies.
To start the second, Eddie Rosario hit a single to right field. Orlando Arcia then hit a soft infield single to second, placing a runner in scoring position and no outs. Albeit, the inning would finish with a strike out to Michael Harris II, and Acuña hitting into a double play.
Chirinos would have a much better bottom of the second, bringing the Braves back up to the plate. Albies got a sweeping pitch low that he was just able to get enough barrel on, for a bloop single to left field. With a focus on moving runners forward, Matt Olson singled to center, putting runners on the corners. D'Arnaud would then mash his second double of the day to the deepest part of the park, tieing the game 3-3. With momentum back in the Braves' favor, Ozuna hit a single, putting the runners back at first and third. Unfortunately, the luck would run out after a Rosario strikeout and an Arcia ground out to end the half-inning.
After being roughed up in the first inning, Chirinos put away eight batters straight before giving up a home run to Alfonso Rivas. The solo shot would put the Bucs back up 4-3. With that, it would be all the Pirates could muster in the bottom of the fourth, after an athletic defensive scoop and throw from Riley, and two soft groundouts.
There was some controversy in the top of the fifth after Ozuna appeared to hit a double that tapped the chalk line near home plate and bounced well over third. Initially, it was ruled a double, even though it barely landed in foul territory near the outfield. Pirates manager, Derek Shelton, came out and convinced the umps to overturn the call. While it was a tight play, it looked like the ball remained inside the third base line while in the air. Ozuna returning to the plate, would pop up to the catcher to end the inning.
Chirinos seemed to be set to go at least five innings tonight, no matter what. The bottom of the fifth wasn't any easier, as the Pirates' first two batters hit their third and fourth homers of the evening. Josh Palacios and Bryan Reynolds would make the score at 6-3 on back-to-back pitches. The long ball in Bucs' bats was unusual today, as they are 23rd in the MLB for home runs. Nevertheless, after getting out of the inning, that was the end of the day for Yonny, who struggled with keeping pitches out of the upper-middle part of the strike zone.
One thing is for certain is that the Braves' bats remain pesky for opposing teams in nearly every game. With Keller done for the evening, Arcia hit a 443-ft solo bomb to right center for his 12th on the year, making the game 6-4. Harris II would keep the lineup moving, following Orlando with a single. The Pirates changed pitchers, bringing in Colin Holderman, who had made nine straight appearances without giving up a run. On the third pitch to Acuña, Holderman threw a 97-mph fastball, nailing Ronald on the elbow (again?!). The MVP-caliber outfielder was visibly frustrated, slamming his bat, and had to leave the game.
Holderman would continue to struggle to find the zone. Austin Riley needed just five pitches to get the walk and load the bases. Keeping the pace, Olson would get his 100th RBI in 111 games, tieing a franchise record with Wally Berger for fastest to reach the landmark. Olson is making his way into the MVP discussion, having an RBI in his last 11 games. The walk would make the game 6-5 for the Pirates, and Travis d'Arnaud would pop out, leaving the bases loaded.
While the seventh and eighth innings did not have much action, there were a few notable moments. Forrest Wall made his first big league at-bat, after 813 minor league games. Wall has been mainly used as a pinch runner, but filled in for Acuña after the hit-by-pitch. He quickly got behind in the count before striking out on a questionable high curveball. The next batter, Albies, put up an eight-pitch at-bat, and clobbered a fastball just right of the foul pole, which would have tied the game. Yet, he would also strike out to end the inning.
Win or lose, the Braves always make it exciting. Austin Riley started off the bottom of the ninth with a deep fly-out to right field on the first pitch. Olson followed, working the count full, and eventually taking a walk. D'Arnaud, who has a knack for hitting in big moments, pummeled his third double of the day, bringing runners to second and third. Next up, Ozuna would quickly ground out to third, with Olson being caught in a pickle. Down to the last out, Kevin Pillar was Atlanta's final hope. One pitch was all he needed as he got a hanging fastball that shot for a single to left-center, tieing up the ballgame. The Bravos were not finished yet, as Arcia would shoot a hard double down the left-field line, bringing home both Ozuna & Pillar. The score now 8-6 for the Braves going into the bottom of the ninth.
came in to close, and stuck out Rodriguez on a filthy change-up in the bottom corner of the strike zone. The change-up had some great downward movement, also leading to the second out on a ground ball straight to Albies. The Pirates would single on their last breath, bringing up Andrew McCutchen. Iglesias would go on to walk McCutchen, crowding runners at first and second. However, that would be all the Pirates could gather as Jack Suwinski grounded out again on that down-and-away change-up back to Raisel.
It was a thrilling comeback win for Atlanta. While no stranger in coming from behind, it was impressive to do the damage on one of the best closers in the game. The Braves, played great ABC ball to drive in runners when it mattered most. Throughout the day, the bats kept them in it, as they were able to chip away at leads and capitalize when it mattered most
Regarding pitching, the Braves have continued to struggle to get quality starts from their back-end rotation. Since Fried's dominating return, all starters have been chased fairly early from the games. While Chirinos made it through five innings tonight, he gave up four home runs and struggled with command on his pitches. It will be interesting to see what the Braves do with Chirinos over the next few days, and if he stays in the starting lineup.
Pitchers of Record
W: Kirby Yates (ATL): 5.1 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 7 K's L: David Bednar (PIT): 1.0 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 1 K
Yonny Chirinos (ATL): 5.0 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 5 K's
Joe Jiménez: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K's
Brad Hand: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
Kirby Yates: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K's
R. Iglesias: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 SV