ATLANTA — He had the signatures of a trick question, of being a surefire way to buy someone else’s drink. When will Atlanta – the franchise of Glavine and Maddux and Smoltz, those guys who surely only played yesterday, or maybe they really were a long time ago – does the last one have a 20 game winner?
Until September, the answer was 2003 (and the man behind the number was Russ Ortiz). Then Kyle Wright, who spent much of last year in the AAA class, won 21 regular season games. But Wright gave Atlanta a masterpiece, not a mere dose of seasonal trivia, Wednesday night when he engineered a two-hit, six-inning outing that positioned the Braves to tie their streak. National League division against the Philadelphia Phillies.
And once Zack Wheeler, the Philadelphia star born near Truist Park, discovered his lead and slider had been figured out in the sixth inning, the Atlanta offense added its own special effects to a 3- 0. Game 3 of the best-of-five series is in Philadelphia on Friday.
Until Wednesday’s sixth inning, however, Atlanta and Philadelphia were stubbornly scoreless just a day after an offensive rush that ended with the scoreboard showing Philadelphia 7-6.
There were possibilities on Wednesday.
Atlanta first baseman Matt Olson fired Bryce Harper to third base when a runner came up to second. Philadelphia’s Rhys Hoskins slammed a ball on the cautionary lane in fourth. Olson quickly hit a long left foul.
The sixth started quite abruptly for Wheeler, who recorded a strikeout and got a flyout to the center. Then a pellet slammed into the elbow of Ronald Acuña Jr., who walked first after being swarmed by the Atlanta coaches. Dansby Swanson walked on a full count before Olson turned a slider into one. Acuña, his legs and speedometer indifferent to the temperamental lead, scored unchallenged from second place. (Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said after the game that Acuña had “no structural damage or anything.”)
Austin Riley hit a field single that gave Swanson enough room to score. Another single on a slider, this one from catcher Travis d’Arnaud, also brought Olson home.
“He had it all,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said of Wheeler. “I don’t know if the hit batsman threw him off a bit or not.” But, Thomson said, Wheeler ultimately “just kinda unraveled.”
Atlanta’s defense added a dazzling handful of catches Wednesday that helped Wright, whose throwing style is more prone to leaving balls in play, crush the Phillies.
“I don’t have a very good four-seam, swing-and-miss fastball,” Wright said. Referring to the Atlanta defense, he added, “I try to rely on those guys a lot. They have been a big part of my success.
Wright threw the first pitch of the game at 7:30 p.m., after a rain delay that lasted nearly three hours. With Game 3 scheduled for Friday afternoon, both teams wanted to play Wednesday, but only if the game could be completed.
“We’re not looking for delays,” Thomson said before the game. “I don’t think anyone is – the Braves, us, Major League Baseball. If there is a window there, we will go.
The window gave Philadelphia a sobering result: After Atlanta lost the Premier League series game by one point, they won 3-0. The Braves took the same route last season against the Milwaukee Brewers – then won the World Series.
The left-handed reliever Tyler Matzek, who set an Atlanta franchise record for playoff appearances last year, had Tommy John surgery on Wednesday. Matzek spent part of that season on the injured list, but made 42 appearances for Atlanta, amassing a 4-2 record, one save and a 3.50 ERA. He is eligible for arbitration this offseason.
#Atlanta #Evens #Series #Timely #Hitting #Lancer #Sterling