The Braves had been a bit stagnant since the All-Star break, and a big part of that was the fact that the overwhelming offensive onslaught that was such a big part of the team’s pre-break run had not really resurfaced after the All-Star Game. They scored nine runs against the White Sox in their first game back, then 13 in a loss to and seven in a salvage of the final game against Arizona. But they scored three runs or less in five of the 11 games leading into this home series with Milwaukee, and lost all of them. If you can somehow stop this team from scoring a bunch of runs, you’re left facing a currently quite beatable pitching staff. This team needs to score runs to win games, at least until it gets some arms back. And probably even then.

All of that to say, it was good to see the Braves absolutely obliterate a good pitching staff this weekend. They scored 29 runs in a three-game sweep of Milwaukee, finishing it off Sunday with an 8-6 win that served as their lowest offensive output of the series. And save for a good start from Bryce Elder on Saturday night, the pitching continued to be…how should I put this? Not exactly stellar. But it just didn’t matter.

Enough preamble…make with the game recap!

Sunday, the Brewers took a 1-0 lead in the first on a wild pitch by starter AJ Smith-Shawver. But a major part of the overwhelming offensive output has been the insane number of runs Atlanta has scored in the first inning. That had kind of gone by the boards during the tepid stretch after the All-Star break as well, but came back with a vengeance as they pummeled Julio Teheran for six in the opening frame on Saturday. They didn’t get that many in this one, but a leadoff single from Ronald Acuna and a two-run Austin Riley homer gave the team a 2-1 lead after their first licks.

This would be a back-and-forth affair the whole way, though. In the third, Smith-Shawver gave up solo homers to Christian Yelich and Carlos Santana to vault the Brewers back in front. In the bottom of that frame, the Acuna-Riley combo struck again, this time to put a pair of runners on (Acuna via single, Riley via walk) for Matt Olson. The Atlanta first baseman and seemingly soon-to-be franchise record-holder in single-season home runs deposited one into the front of the Chop House seats to give his side the lead back, 5-3.

Smith-Shawver left after five innings, and I would describe his outing as OK-ish. He allowed three runs on four hits, two of them homers, and struck out three. He did walk four and uncork a pair of wild pitches, though (one of which cost the Braves a run, as previously mentioned). I’ll have more on the game of musical chairs the Braves have been playing with the rotation in a minute.

The sixth inning saw Collin McHugh enter the game for the Braves. He pitched well on Friday in what turned out to be something of a bullpen game. Today, not so much. Three of the first four hitters he faced reached base, loading the sacks with one out. A run-scoring groundout and a two-run double (the latter by ex-Brave William Contreras) followed to give Milwaukee a 6-5 edge.

But then back came the Braves. Marcell Ozuna homered to level the score in the sixth. Then in the eighth, with the score still tied 6-6, Ozzie Albies led off the frame with a double off Joel Payamps (a cog in the three-team trade that also featured Sean Murphy and Contreras, if you’ll recall). Two batters later, Olson strolled to the plate and launched his 35th homer of the season (and second of the day) into the out-of-town scoreboard above the Atlanta bullpen. Two-run shot, 8-6 Braves with just three outs to get.

Raisel Iglesias seems to have sorted some things out, as he’s looked pretty great in his last three outings now. He fanned all three Brewers in the ninth to secure the win.

The Braves welcome the former California Angels (and still, really…they’re just officially identified by their metro area instead of their state these days) to Truist for three before embarking on a long road trip to face the Cubs, Pirates and Mets.

Brief thoughts on the rotation

I have been puzzled by how the Braves have handled the rotation recently. I don’t know if Michael Soroka is capable of re-establishing himself as a consistent fixture in a major league rotation, but it’s going to be very difficult to find out if he keeps getting yo-yo’d back down to Gwinnett so that the likes of Yonny Chirinos and AJ Smith-Shawver can get starts instead. Soroka was perfectly capable of giving either one of the performances that those guys gave this weekend while giving you more information about his progress. He was also perfectly capable of pitching significantly better than either of those guys did. The rotation is about to be (not necessarily in order of appearance) Fried-Strider-Morton-Elder-someone. Either trade for an actual solution in the next two days (no. Chirinos doesn’t count) or call Soroka up and give him the someone spot until and unless Kyle Wright comes back. Stop yanking Soroka around and giving his starts to bums and Triple A pitchers who aren’t ready. It’s time to see what we actually have here, before we launch ourselves into another uncertain offseason in regards to Soroka.