A better game than the recap it belatedly inspired from an author who forgot he had any responsibilities until about 30 seconds ago, Spencer Strider recovered from a couple of off outings and the Braves again capitalized on the longball to defeat their divisional rivals, overcoming a terrific outing by Ranger Suarez and snapping the Phillies’ win streak and extending our own.
The main victim was Jeff Hoffman, who I had completely lost track of; a former first-round draft pick, he’s a former starter who washed out of Colorado (stop me if you’ve heard that before) and now he’s an unexceptional right-handed middle reliever. He replaced Suarez at the top of the seventh and immediately started spreading the wealth, walking Orlando Arcia on six pitches and then yielding a double to Eddie Rosario; after Michael Harris grounded out, Ronald Acuña followed up with an RBI single and Ozzie contributed an RBI groundout, taking the game from a tense 1-1 tie to a greatly preferable 3-1 lead.
Then, after Hoffman got the first out of the eighth, Phillie manager Rob Thomson tried to play matchups but pushed the wrong button again, bringing on lefty Andrew Vasquez, who generously immediately served up a very long homer to Matt Olson (who doesn’t seem to do much else).
In his postgame comments, Strider more or less acknowledged that he was experiencing a bit of a summer dead-arm period in his last couple of starts, and was just working on making adjustments. There’s a bit of Charlie Morton in him; he is deeply thoughtful about his craft, and he seemed to suggest that he was getting a bit in his head and listening to too many people; he credited his wife with helping him focus. Whatever happens, it was good to see the results match more of what we’re used to seeing from him.
Again, the team deserved better than they got from me. I’m going to try to clean it up and do better next time. Smith-Shawver vs. Nola tonight. Go get ’em, meat!