The Braves capped off a series win Sunday in the rubber match of a three-game set against Baltimore that seemed to serve as a bit of a measuring stick, getting a game-winning RBI double from Michael Harris II in the 12th inning to secure a 3-2 victory. It does feel weird to say a three-game set against the Orioles was a measuring stick, but the two teams came in within a half-game of each other record-wise, and the visitors played well all weekend. The Braves are playing just a bit better, though, turning the series around with their thrilling comeback win on Saturday night leading into Sunday morning’s proceedings.
How It Started
Matt Olson got things started for the Braves by ripping a solo home run over the left-center field fence in the first inning, giving the local nine a 1-0 lead. It proved to be the only run the Braves would score during regulation play, as neither team acquitted themselves well with runners in scoring position (a combined 2-for-25, and both of those hits were in extra innings).
Braves starter Bryce Elder tiptoed through 5.1 innings allowing just one run on four hits and four walks. He allowed nine baserunners, but did an outstanding job of working his way out of jams. In the third, for instance, Cedric Mullins doubled off him to put runners at second and third with one out. The Braves rightly proceeded to strike out Ryan Mountcastle and Gunnar Henderson consecutively to escape the frame unscathed. He wasn’t quite so lucky in the fourth, as he allowed an RBI groundout in the exact same situation (second and third, one out) in the fourth. However, he allowed nothing more and the game went forward tied 1-1.
Elder got into another jam in the sixth, walking a pair to put two on with one out. This time, Collin McHugh relieved Elder and struck out back-to-back Orioles to extricate Atlanta from the potential mess.
Extra Innings Madness
Neither team got a man on base from that point until the 10th inning, when Rob Manfred helpfully started putting men on base for them. Anthony Santander (who I think we’ll all be very happy to see leave town) drove in the Oriole automatic runner to lead off the first extra frame. They looked in danger of dropping the hammer that is the second run of the extra frame, but Jorge Mateo (Santander’s pinch runner) ran into an out at third base and the Braves just needed to get the one run to extend the game in the bottom half. They did so on a wild pitch after Marcell Ozuna moved the runner over to third with a groundout. However, Harris eventually was thrown out at third in pretty much exactly the same fashion that Mateo had been in the top of the inning, so we went onto the 11th with the score tied 2-2.
Ronald Acuña Jr. foiled the Orioles in the 11th by throwing out their automatic runner, Austin Hays, as he tried to move up on a flyout to fairly-deep right field. The Braves foiled themselves by not managing to get the winning run past second base in the bottom of the inning.
The Orioles again failed to score in the top of the 12th, and at this point I should probably bring up Michael Tonkin, who pitched the 11th and 12th for Atlanta and didn’t allow any baserunners. He also stymied the auto runner in back-to-back innings.
That sent us to the bottom of the 12th. With one out, the Orioles intentionally walked Ozuna to bring Harris up, which was…an interesting choice. I know Ozuna’s been hot lately, Harris hasn’t and Baltimore had a lefty on the mound, but I’m still pretty sure I wouldn’t have done that. I became 100 percent sure when Harris drilled the game-winning double off the wall in left-center.
So now the Braves actually have two days off this week. Yes, they’re still doing those two-game, home-and-home series with interleague “rivals.” Atlanta will host Boston on Tuesday and Wednesday with Monday and Thursday off, then play two in Boston later in the season.