Everyone expected a slugfest between the Atlanta Braves and Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday evening, right? Well, whether it was expected or not, that is what fans got between these two teams.
Things kicked off immediately in the first inning as the Diamondbacks jumped all over Bryce Elder and didn't let up the rest of his outing. Elder has struggled mightily in his last few starts. He was only able to complete 2.2 innings of work on Tuesday.
Through his last two starts, Elder has combined for 6 IP, 13 H, 12 ER, 5 BB, and 4 K. Not the most encouraging of numbers for a pitcher who once had the best ERA in the league. He was bound to hit some regression at some point and it looks like that time is now. His slider wasn't biting at all and when that happens MLB hitters aren't going to miss 99% of the time.
Arizona tagged Elder for 7 runs (5 of them earned) and forced Brian Snitker to go to the bullpen early. The first inning did have a bit of bad luck for Elder but after the first, it was just poor pitching on Elder's part the rest of the game. Now, to be fair, the Diamondbacks were swinging the bats well too but some of Elder's pitches weren't located well and they took advantage.
The first inning started with a lead-off single from Geraldo Perdomo who would score on a triple from Corbin Carrol. Carrol hit the ball just inside the first base bag and hit it in the perfect spot to get himself a triple.
Elder had a chance to escape the inning as he got Lourdes Gurriel Jr to ground to Arcia but the Braves shortstop bobbled the ball and was unable to throw the runner out which scored Carrol from third for an early 2-0 lead. That was all the runs they would score during the inning, however.
Now, it was the Braves' turn as they faced Zach Davies who has struggled for the Diamondbacks all year. The Braves had three straight hits to start the bottom of the first as Acuna reached on a single and advance to third on a double by Ozzie Albies. Both runners then scored on a two-run double by Austin Riley, who would go on to have a monster night at the plate (more on that to come).
Atlanta wasn't done as Matt Olson coaxed a walk and both Riley and Olson scored on Sean Murphy's double into the gap in right-center field. Murphy scored on a single by Michael Harris II but was thrown out at second trying to leg out a double. The Braves now had a 5-2 lead heading to the second.
The Braves have been one of the best teams in the first inning all season long and they added to that on Tuesday with another 5-run first inning. That is the fifth 5-run first inning from the Braves in 2023 and that is three more than any other team in the Majors.
Arizona tied things up in the second thanks to a solo homer by Emmanuel Rivera and a two-run double from Ketel Marte. The D-backs then took the lead on a wild pitch strikeout where Sean Murphy uncharacteristically threw the ball away at first allowing Marte to score from second and Carrol to advance to third.
Carrol then scored on a single from Christian Walker and Arizona led 7-5 after this point. They carried this lead into the fourth inning and added on an 8th run due to a solo homer hit by Christian Walker off of Michael Tonkin. Tonkin checked in for Elder in the third inning and Tonkin threw 2.2 innings of work allowing 4 runs on 4 hits with 1 strikeout.
Another thing to note during the fourth inning is that Sam Hilliard came out of the game due to tweaking his ankle earlier when running to first base. He was replaced in left field by Kevin Pillar. Hilliard was playing for the injured Eddie Rosario who is dealing with a bad hamstring currently.
Atlanta roared back in the bottom of the fourth scoring 4 total runs. One of those runs came from an RBI double by Kevin Pillar in his first at-bat of the night. The Braves then took the lead on a clutch 3-run homer by none other than Austin Riley. The score was now 9-8 in favor of the Braves.
Shockingly, Arizona didn't score in the fifth inning but the Braves did add to their lead. Orlando Arcia hit a two-run home run with two outs in the inning scoring he and Murphy. The Braves now led the game 11-8 and looked like they were going to run away with it.
That couldn't have been more wrong as the slugfest continued in the sixth inning. Arizona put up a four spot in the fifth thanks to a Corbin Carrol single and a Christian Walker three-run homer. D-backs now had the lead 12-11 as we headed to the bottom half of the inning.
The Braves offense answered once again with another (yes, another) Austin Riley home run. This one was of the two-run variety and gave the Atlanta third baseman his 3rd hit and 7th RBI of the night. It feels like Riley is about to enter into one of those stretches where he doesn't miss anything. He was 3-for-5 on the night.
I wish I could say this was the end of the scoring but it wasn't. Things slowed down briefly in the 7th inning as neither team scored but that picked back up in the 8th inning.
The Braves were up 13-12 at his point but Arizona decided it was time to tie things up at 13 apiece. Dominic Canzone single to right to score Christian Walker from third for his first Major League hit. The inning mercifully ended without any other runs thanks to an incredible diving play by Kevin Pillar. It was one of the best plays of the night.
The Braves bullpen which had the best ERA in the National League at the break, really struggled tonight. Tonkin, Heller, Jimenez, and Yates combined to cover 5.1 innings allowing 6 ER on 6 H with 2 BB and 2 K. A rough outing overall but Jimenez may have had the best night as he allowed a lead-off walk to start the inning but got the next three batters out in order.
Those numbers don't include Raisel Iglesias who checked into the game in the 9th inning to try and hold things at 13 runs each. Jake McCarthy checked into the game as a pinch hitter and led off the inning with a single. He then would reach third thanks to an error from Matt Olson on a ground ball to first.
Olson tried to field the ball too quickly as he tried to make an attempt for a double play. Unfortunately, he missed the ball and it ended up in right field allowing Arizona to have runners on 2nd and 3rd with no outs.
The Braves closer would allow Arizona to score 3 runs in the inning on 2 hits with just two of those runs being earned due to the error by Olson. Snitker pulled Iglesias from the inning as the Diamondbacks had a 16-13 lead now.
Derek Rodriguez came in and finished out the inning on just five pitches. He pitched a scoreless 0.2 innings and sent things to the bottom of the ninth. Atlanta had been able to answer all night but ran out of steam during the bottom of the 9th. The Braves went down 1-2-3 in the inning to lose their third consecutive game which is the first time they've done so since the month of May.
When you score 13 runs in a game, you don't expect to lose. These are the losses that hurt the most but this Atlanta team isn't one to just lie down and let it beat them. They will come out tomorrow with a great attitude and do their best to win the game and get back on track.
At least there is some good news to be had on the day as Atlanta also announced they signed Travis d'Arnaud to a one-year deal worth $8 million for 2024. He is an important part of this team and we are happy to have him around for at least another season.