Yes, that is what a good start looks like.
It’s entirely possible and understandable if the last two weeks have brainwashed you into thinking that any time a pitcher gets through four innings without trailing by five runs it counts as a solid start, but tonight you saw a great pitching performance.
Ian Anderson’s worst inning of the night was the second inning, where he walked two batters but came back to retire the side in order without allowing a run to cross. The highest exit velocity of any hit he allowed was 37.9 MPH off the bat of Asdrubal Cabrera, because that was the only hit he allowed all day.
It might be five more days before you get to watch a really good start again, but Anderson made sure to squeeze every single drop of juice out of tonight’s game for you.
- I really think that was the best start of the season for the Braves. Max Fried has his fair share of contenders and Mike Soroka was great on Opening Day, but Anderson was on another level tonight. I would like to nominate the 2-2 changeup he threw to Juan Soto in the sixth inning as the best singular pitch from any Braves pitcher all season. To get a hitter as advanced as Soto to look that bad is something special.
- And after how much Anderson was struggling to control his offspeed stuff in the second inning, it looked like he wouldn’t even get to the sixth inning. The only thing he could really command the first time through the order was his fastball; all four changeups he threw in his stretch of eight balls in 10 pitches were outside the strike zone. But he stuck with his best pitch until he found it. The 2-2 changeup he threw to Yadiel Hernandez to end the second inning was the biggest pitch of his night, and it was smooth sailing from there.
- Your unsung MVP of the night? Rick Kranitz. His mound visit in the second inning after Anderson’s back-to-back walks was the turning point of the game. It’s rare that you see a pitching coach have as noticable and as direct of an impact on a game like that, but his mound visit was essential. It was almost like Anderson was living out a Snickers commercial.
“You’re not you when you’re hungry” until your pitching coach comes out and gives you a Snicker and you can go back to throwing wicked changeups past some of the best hitters in baseball.
By the way, how has the Snickers/Snitker endorsement not happened yet in almost half a decade as manager.
- Ronald Acuña Jr. is fine, by the way. If the first inning hit and stolen base didn’t convince you, the leaping catch in center field certainly should have. I feel like he’s almost part cyborg to be able to shake off an injury like that in 24 hours, because there’s no way a mere mortal would’ve been back in the lineup today.
- Mark Melancon had a nice, stress free ninth inning there to lock down the game. And by “stress free” I mean “maybe the most stressful half inning of the season” of course, but he got the job done. Remember, your heart is a muscle and you have to work it out from time to time.
- Credit to Brian Snitker for playing the matchups in the ninth. Melancon is just a much better bet against a right-handed hitter as opposed to a left-handed bat, and Snitker made the right decision with the game hanging in the balance.
- Adam Duvall’s diving catch: Underrated, but huge. The top of Washington’s order might have gotten another chance to hit in the ninth without that catch to slam the door on the seventh.
- Two hits and a barreled out for Travis d’Arnaud tonight. He also had a pivotal stop on a ball in the dirt that kept the tying run from advancing 90 feet in the ninth. The catching situation is pretty great right now.
- The Braves have gone from 29 runs down to seven and now to two. This is trending in the wrong direction on offense with Max Scherzer looming tomorrow.
- Alright, in all seriousness there were 12 strikeouts tonight and several blown opportunities to put the game out of reach early. There’s no reason to make a big deal out of it because it ended in a win, but this could have been a very similar conversation to the one after last night’s game if Victor Robles had found some grass in the game’s final at-bat.
- The Nationals will have Scherzer and essentially a completely rested bullpen at their disposal tomorrow, while the Braves will probably have Greene and Melancon down in relief of Kyle Wright. Advantage Washington.
- The Phillies took care of the Marlins and the Cubs pulled a game out of the fire in Milwaukee, so #ScoreboardWatchingSeason didn’t yield any positive results in the race for the NL East or the No. 2 seed.
Former Brave Of The Day:
A Cubs win isn’t the best news for the Braves right now, but this has to be Jason Heyward. When you hit a game-winning three-run home run off Josh Hader in the ninth inning, you win Former Brave Of The Day. It’s just how it works.
Quote Of The Game:
“All I ever had was a fastball, a curveball and a changeup and I did pretty good.”
– Dizzy Dean
Score 29 runs off Max Scherzer. Should be easy, right? Seriously though, Kyle Wright getting through the lineup twice without any major issues would be a positive step in his development.