Behind another dominant start by Kyle Wright and a clutch two run double by Matt Olson in the 7th, the Braves defeated the Fish 3-0.
Kyle Wright was indeed masterful, tossing six shutout innings. For my money, he is the story of the year so far. His ERA is now 1.06 after three starts. In those starts, he’s struck out 26 while walking only two. Tonight, he threw 95 pitches, 67 of which were strikes; he struck out 11 and walked only one. Perhaps most impressively he induced 20 swings and misses. He’s throwing both his four seamer and two seamer with confidence, his breaking ball is filthy, and he had a great changeup tonight.
O’Day, Matzek, and Jansen drew tonight’s night shift duty and maintained the shutout through the 7th, 8th, and 9th.
The Braves took a 1-0 lead in the first which turned out to be the only run they needed. The run was directly attributable to the fleet feet of Olson and Ozuna. Leading off, Ozzie worked a 3-2 count but in typical Ozzie fashion swung at an outside fastball that would have been ball four. The good news is he didn’t try to pull it and lined a single to right.
After the Ozzie single, Olson beat out a double play ball by hustling down the line to first. He advanced to second on a Riley walk, and when an errant pickoff throw went into center field, Olson scampered to third. Ozuna grounded to third, but beat the throw to first to prevent a double play, allowing Olson to score. Man, it’s great to have speed in the lineup.
After having lots of baserunners in the first two innings and forcing Trevor Rogers to throw a lot of pitches, the Braves went into hibernation mode for the next several innings. The score remained 1-0 through 6 innings. Wright faced his only real trouble in the 6th, but Snit allowed him to pitch his way out of it and preserve the shutout.
In the 7th, still clinging to that 1-0 lead, the team rallied. With one out, Swanson walked (he also had a sharp single and a lineout earlier in the game) and Rosario, pinch hitting for Demeritte, reached on an error by the second baseman. Ozzie went to another 3-2 count, but unlike the first inning, Ozzie took the outside pitch. The ump called it strike 3 in one of the worst calls I’ve seen in a long time. It was bad enough to see the ump get it so wrong–he was terrible all night calling balls and strikes. The worst part of it is that Ozzie will likely decide to never take another pitch. I don’t mean to be too hard on Albies—he’s my favorite player, and a terrific hitter (two more hits tonight). But if he could just take a few more pitches he could be Joe Morgan.
Fortunately, with two outs and the runners still on first and second, Matt Olson came through with a double into the right field corner to score both baserunners. As good as he’s been, those were Olson’s first rbi’s that weren’t the result of solo home runs. Shows how the bottom of the order and the leadoff hitters have been so poor at getting on base.
That’s not going to be a problem for much longer, though. Ronald had his third rehab start at Gwinnett tonight and reached base three times, stole a base, and even scored from second base on an infield hit (according to our announcers). Soon Olson is going to have plenty of rbi opportunities.
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Travis Demeritte made his Atlanta Braves debut tonight. In his first AB he stroked a ringing double to left. I don’t know whether Travis will turn out to be a productive major league hitter, but it was good to see him get the start and get his first Atlanta hit. I had followed Demeritte’s minor league exploits for the Braves for some time. He showed promise in the last decade, but the Braves traded him to the Tigers for Shane Greene in 2019. His numbers for the Tigers were pretty abysmal, and when they released him the Braves picked him up again. He had a pretty good year for Gwinnett in 2021, and may yet have a major league career.
Thinking about Demeritte reminded me of Adrian Garrett, who passed away on this date one year ago. There won’t be more than a couple of you who remember Garrett. He was a rookie who made his big league debut with the Atlanta Braves in the first month of their existence. I remember being very excited when he appeared for the Braves. Garrett had been the first baseman for the Atlanta Crackers in 1965, the AAA affiliate of the Milwaukee (but soon to be Atlanta) Braves. That Crackers team is the first team I followed every day. Garrett hit 20 home runs, second in the league, and made the International League All Star game. Everyone said his swing reminded them of Ted Williams, and my ten year old self was sure he was a can’t miss prospect. After a strong spring training in 1966, he made the big league roster. He appeared in four games in April, with three pinch hit appearances, going 0-3 with two strikeouts. They sent him back down to AAA where he spent the rest of the season. In fact, he never appeared for the Atlanta Braves again.
But Garrett was just getting started. He went on to play 19 professional seasons and hit a total of 398 home runs. The reason you’ve likely never heard of him is that only 11 of those dingers came in the major leagues. He smacked 280 homers in the minors and another 102 in Japan and Venezuela. His major league numbers were not so impressive: in 263 at bats over parts of eight seasons, he hit .185, with an OPS+ of 70 and a career WAR of minus 0.7. Still, you’ve got to admire someone who sticks it out so long.
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I’ve said it for the last two weeks, and I’ll say it again: this is a good time to be a Braves fan. This is a very solid club that will battle the Mets all the way. It’s still the Braves’ division to lose.
Ian Anderson goes tomorrow, looking to repeat the strong start he had last week in San Diego. I think this is the beginning of a streak.