Good to get a Sunday win after a few weeks. As this game seemed headed toward another Sunday loss, I was getting all set to start with an “OK guys, very funny…how about we win some on Sunday?” missive. Thankfully, now I don’t have to. And the win ended the Braves two-series losing streak, if you will, as it meant that they took two of three from the first-place Milwaukee Brewers.
This game was billed as a matchup between a couple of soft-tossing pitchers with the Braves prominently featured on their resume: Bryce Elder vs. Julio Teheran. I discovered (or possibly re-discovered) in the leadup to this one that my opinion of Teheran’s Atlanta tenure is considerably better than that of a lot of folks. This is a guy who was the Opening Day starter six seasons in a row for the Braves, went to two All-Star games and was generally the best pitcher on the staff throughout the 2010s. He was the best pitcher on the staff for a team that wasn’t very good for much of that, but I have fond memories of him. And this was a vintage Julio performance, as he kept the Braves off-balance for most of the day, allowing just one run on three hits over six innings to leave the game with a lead.
Thankfully, that run came because one of those hits was a solo shot by Travis d’Arnaud that carried just over the head of Sal Frelick, last night’s chief villain, and over the wall. (Most of the magic seemed to have worn off for Frelick today, by the way. There was another ball that tipped off his glove as he tried to make a diving catch; and he was held in check at the plate outside of an annoying eighth-inning single that was more the result of bad defensive positioning than anything else.)
Bryce, meanwhile, successfully righted the ship. He didn’t figure in the decision, but he allowed just two runs on four hits over six innings. He left with a 2-1 deficit, but it was exactly the kind of start we were hoping for from the young All-Star.
Even so, Milwaukee still led by a run going to the eighth. Orlando Arcia led off the frame with a line-drive single to center. Michael Harris traded places with him after grounding into a force out, then Ronald Acuna added another single to put two runners on with one out. Up stepped Ozzie Albies, who hadn’t homered since early this month. He turned the game around with a long drive over the power alley and into the Atlanta bullpen, giving his team a 4-2 lead.
Ben Heller allowed a couple runners on in the eighth (including the aforementioned Frelick) but got out of it by striking out Andrew Monasterio. Raisel Iglesias had his best outing in a while, mowing down the Brewers in the ninth for his 18th save. New callup Daysbel Hernandez collected the win in relief on his major league debut, completing a series replete with folks offering notable debut performances (Hernandez, Frelick, Allan Winans and Forrest Wall all had positive things to show for their debuts during this series.)
So the Braves return to their series-winning ways with this victory, and will now finish off their road trip through club history with a two-game swing in Boston. They continue to lead the NL East by 11.5 games and the race for the best record in the league by seven over the Dodgers.