After a frustrating sweep at the hands of the Blue Jays, the Braves came back from an early deficit to win Game 1 of a weekend in Milwaukee on Friday night, beating the Brewers by a 6-3 lead. Drew Smyly allowed just one run in six innings and the Braves beat Adrian Houser and Eric Lauer on their way to victory.
There was a brief moment at the start of that game where it looked like it would be the same disheartening display that the Braves have featured more than a few times so far in 2021 – luckily it didn’t come to fruition. The Braves had two with one in the top of the second, which brought Ender Inciarte for his first appearance on the set since arriving on the shelf weeks ago. Inciarte went into a 2-0 tally, but then flew slightly to the left, dooming the round to a goose egg as Smyly was next. The Brewers then responded by turning Avisail Garcia’s double lead into a run when, with one putout, Garcia in third and infield, Dansby Swanson failed to field a very weak bouncer (77 mi / h) towards him. Later in the frame, another error from Swanson, a straight start from a routine Grounder, extended the inning, but Smyly pulled his opponent off the butt to complete the inning.
It was a pretty inauspicious start to the game (if you’re a Braves fan, anyway), but they knocked it down on Houser in a hurry. Ehire Adrianza, replacing Ronald Acuña Jr. (ankle too sore to play in tonight’s game, could return tomorrow), took a first step to start the third. Freddie Freeman then crushed a pitch which unfortunately went straight to the right defender, but Adrianza went second on insane ground, then third on a step. Houser then walked Marcell Ozuna, and after Ozzie Albies left, perhaps the Braves were once again ready to be disappointed. But, don’t worry: Swanson drew a walk to extend the sleeve, putting together this willful Austin Riley ‘single’:
The Brewers have positioned themselves well in 2021, but you can’t really position yourself well for “ricochets of balls hitting over 100 km / h at your pitcher,” and the drift of the ball in the middle allowed Ozuna to mark the green light. Classes. Houser then poked William Contreras to bring Inciarte with a chance to redeem himself… but after leading the scoring 3-0, he finally pulled a lead from home plate. That was actually it for Houser – he only lasted three frames and walked five (and hit a batter) in the process.
Smyly got the crew to sit in order down the sleeve, and the Brewers brought in Eric Lauer in Houser’s place. Lauer’s first run of work was a 1-2-3 frame, but at the start of the fifth Ozuna and Albies did some serious damage:
Meanwhile, Smyly went through the middle sleeves. He was perfect in the third and fourth, and had three consecutive strikeouts after a start in the fifth. With a three-point lead, the Braves let him face the Heart of Order Milwaukee for a third time in the sixth, which could have gone wrong but went well. Lorenzo Cain started the frame with a single flare in the middle, and with a putout, Smyly hit Garcia. That brought in Travis Shaw as a tie run, but on the very first pitch Shaw rolled a curveball to Albies for a 4-6-3 single matched kill that concluded Smyly’s night. With six innings of the ball to a run and a 4/1 K / BB ratio, it was Smyly’s best outing since his first start of the year, when he had an 8/1 K / BB ratio but was was defeated by a home run from Trea Turner. and shoddy defense behind it.
Back-to-back singles from Freeman and Ozuna chased Lauer to start the seventh. Brad Boxberger took over from Milwaukee and was fouled by Albies, but the Braves got a fifth inning on strange safety pressure from Swanson. A sixth inning was thwarted (for now) when Luis Urias snatched a single potential from Riley to the left with a jump hold.
Jacob Webb arrived for the bottom of the seventh. His first faced hitter, Urias, hit the ball to the right center, where it was caught on the wall by Inciarte. Next hitter, Manny Piña, hit a ball nearly 100 mph from the left side for a single. After that, pinch hitter Daniel Vogelbach threw Webb again, this time for a direct flight to the center, and that was it for Webb, as Sean Newcomb pulled out of the pen and pushed pinch hitter Billy McKinney to his side. remove. to complete the round.
The Braves actually marked their sixth inning early in the eighth. William Contreras crushed a 2-2 pitch from new center-right reliever Josh Lindblom for a triple (!) As the ball flew past Cain and took a weird bounce off the wall that sent him to left field. Inciarte then blooped a third (62.7 mph initially, one percent chance to hit) to score Contreras and make it a 6-1 game. Tyler Matzek arrived for the bottom of the inning and held the Brewers scoreless despite a one-out walk and odd defenseman pick play where what could have been a 6-5 out in the third did resulted in no takedowns when Austin Riley snorted on the tag during a recap. No worries, however, as Matzek knocked out Garcia with 95 mph straight in the middle and then forced Shaw out weakly to the left.
The ninth had, well, too much excitement for what should have ended quietly. Josh Tomlin came up with a five-point lead. Two shots, Urias punched one in the middle for a solo homerun. Four steps in, Piña followed suit to the left. After a foul by Vogelbach, Tomlin was ripped off and Will Smith entered. Pinch hitter Omar Narvaez hit, but Kolten Wong hit Riley to extend the game. Cain hit the last pitch of the match, a quick 2-1 challenge, quite tough (100mph) and on a line, but he was served straight to Inciarte to end the match.
The Braves had eight hits (two dingers), five walks and one stroke-by-stroke in this game, so that part of the equation worked for them. Smyly presented reasonably well, but not particularly differently than during past outings; the big difference is just that the ball stayed in the park tonight. Marcell Ozuna was one of the biggest winners of the day, reaching base four times and increasing his seasonal WRC +11 points (from 72 to 83) in the process. He and Riley were the only Braves with multi-hit plays, although Contreras also hit base three times (triple, walk, ball hit).
Atlanta is hoping for a similar result tomorrow, as Ian Anderson takes on Brett Anderson (not a typo).