Recap: Atlanta Braves lose third straight game as Padres offense explodes
By Steven Teal
The Atlanta Braves suffered their third straight loss at the hands of the San Diego Padres. San Diego's offense came out with a game plan against Braves rookie Dylan Dodd. That plan? Swing early and often. Whatever they figured out clearly worked as they tagged Dodd for seven runs over his 4.1 innings pitched.
The first inning was fairly uneventful for Dodd as he only allowed one batter to reach. However, that all changed in the second inning as the Padres started to swing early in the count with Cronenworth and Kim each hitting doubles. This led to a 1-0 advantage for the Padres in the early innings.
Unfortunately, the flood gates opened once we reached the third inning. Two singles allowed to Xander Bogaerts and Manny Machado led to a three-run home run off the bat of Nelson Cruz. Dodd was having trouble locating where he wanted to and while there were some calls that should have gone his way, overall, his pitches just weren't sharp like his first start.
His average fastball velocity was down just a tad from his previous start and his slider wasn't doing much sliding. It sat in the zone way longer than it should have and led to some extremely hard contact. Nelson Cruz later revealed in an interview on ESPN that his slider was breaking more like a changeup than a slider.
Dodd was replaced in the fifth inning by Lucas Luetge who promptly allowed a two-run homer to Ha-Seong Kim. This put the Padres up 8-0 over the Atlanta Braves after just five innings. It just seemed like the Padres offense was locked in all night and was prepared for anything. Atlanta scored their first run on a fielder's choice to Kim in the bottom of the fifth.
Nelson Cruz had a monster night for San Diego as he added two more RBI to his stat line after hitting a two-run single in the sixth inning. Cruz finished his night 3-for-4 with 6 RBI. Definitely not the kind of player that you can allow to get hot if you're an opposing pitcher.
Lucas Luetge finished his night for the Braves after the sixth inning. He finished with a line of 1.2 innings pitched allowing three runs on three hits with two walks and one strikeout. Luetge was then replaced by Joe Jiménez who had the easiest inning of the night. He allowed no hits and no runs in one inning of work with one strikeout.
Seth Lugo had the Braves number tonight as he kept them off-balance all game. He ended the night after six innings of work allowing just one run on five hits and striking out five batters. Braves hitters were rolling over his breaking pitches all night. Lugo's one blemish was issuing four walks.
The Braves scored their second run in the bottom of the seventh after Lugo came out of the game. They had a threat looming with bases loaded but, unfortunately, it was short-lived as Albies struck out. Sean Murphy then grounded into a force out to end the inning and end the Braves chance at a big inning.
A.J. Minter looked very good as he pitched the eighth inning. He induced a ground ball out from Xander Bogaerts then struck out both Manny Machado and Juan Soto to end the Padres half of the inning and turn things back over to the offense who was unable to get anything going in the bottom half of the eighth.
Danny Young made his second apperance for the Atlanta Braves and pitched well allowing no runs and no hits. He did however hit Nelson Cruz on the back foot with a pitch but that threat was erased with a double play.
The Braves were unable to add any more runs in the bottom of the ninth as they were only able to score two runs on eight hits the entire night. The Padres offense came prepared to hit and showed exactly why they are such a talented team. It was a tough ending to a series that started with such promise and excitement.
Atlanta welcomes the Cincinnati Reds into town next and look to get themselves back into the win column. They may get Kyle Wright back during that series and he will be a welcome sight into a rotation that has been depending on young arms to get the job done.
It is still early in the season and there is still plenty of time to turn things around. However, it's hard to not feel deflated after losing a series like that. Fortunately, there is plenty of time left to get back to the Braves standard and play to the potential that this team possesses.