Atlanta Braves drop series finale as Reds offense explodes

The Atlanta Braves share of first place was extremely short-lived as the Reds played long ball on Thursday evening. 

Thursday’s series finale between the Atlanta Braves and the Reds started off promising for Atlanta as they scored early.

Unfortunately for the Braves, Kyle Muller had a disappointing outing and Cincinnatti jumped all over the young left-hander.

RECAP

Muller was tagged for six runs on five hits allowing 3 walks and striking out just one batter through 2.1 innings pitched.

The first of those four runs came via grand slam off the bat of Jesse Winker who is having a breakout season for the Reds.

Muller was replaced soon after in the third inning after allowing a lead-off single and a walk.

Josh Tomlin took over and unfortunately witnessed similar results as he allowed an RBI ground-rule double, a 3-run homer, and a solo homer before the inning was mercifully ended.

The Reds added on more runs in the sixth inning thanks to a 2-run homer by Kyle Farmer.

Tomlin completed his outing after 3.2 innings allowing five runs on eight hits with five strikeouts and no walks. His ERA now sits at 5.98 and not what many Atlanta Braves fans had hoped to see from him this season.

Josh at least helped rest some of the bullpen a tad as they have a road trip coming up.

A.J. Minter made his return for Atlanta after being sent to Triple-A for a little while and he pitched extremely well. Which is often the case for him in low-leverage situations.

Minter tossed 2 clean innings allowing no runs, no hits, no walks, and struck out three batters in the process.

We will see if he’s truly made any progress once he pitches successfully in a stressful situation.

The final man out of the bullpen Thursday evening was Edgar Santana who allowed one run on one hit while striking out one batter. The one run allowed was a solo homer to Reds catcher and Atlanta native, Tyler Stephenson.

I wish I could say the Braves offense scored more to try and keep us in the game, it just wasn’t one of those nights as 19 runners were left on base.

The Reds continued to add on runs and their starter Vladimir Gutierrez kept the offense at bay pretty much all night.

He allowed just one earned run on five hits while striking out six Atlanta batters.

It’s hard to rattle a pitcher who has been given such a big cushion to work with. You could tell how comfortable he was on the mound after the Reds grabbed a commanding lead and never looked back.

Cincinnati went on to beat Atlanta by a final score of 12-3. All things considered, taking 2 out of 3 games from a great offensive team like the Reds is a small victory to take and Atlanta is still just one game out of first.

The Good from Thursday’s Loss

I want to end this recap with a little positivity so we don’t all feel so down in the dumps after a blowout.

There were some offensive bright spots in this game and it’s encouraging to see some of these guys continuing to contribute in whatever way they can.

Jorge Soler has impressed me so far with his short stint with the Atlanta Braves as he continues to find ways to get on base.

Soler finished his night going 1-for-3 with two walks and that’s encouraging to see from a guy that has been known to strike out a lot.

Ozzie Albies launched yet another long homer as he went deep in the 7th inning into the Braves bullpen.

That home run was a historic one as Albies hit the 80th of his career which placed him above Dan Uggla for most homers by an Atlanta second baseman.

Austin Riley tallied yet another hit as he went 1-for-3 with a walk continuing his MVP-worthy season.

Lastly, Dansby Swanson hasn’t slowed down one bit as he ended Thursday with a 2-for-3 line driving in one of Atlanta’s three runs.

In the last 15 games, Swanson is hitting a ridiculous .368 with a .413 on-base percentage and a .596 slugging percentage. He has 21 hits including 3 homers and 14 RBI.

He has really been feeling it since the All-Star break and this team has needed every bit of that success from him.

I feel good about this lineup and the potential they have to take this team far in the postseason.

Conclusion

While it was a disappointing loss, the Braves are still in the thick of the race for the NL East title.

I think they have a really good shot so long as they don’t let games like this get to them. Just brush it off and get right back to work.

Kyle Muller had a bad outing and the game got out of hand very quickly but I don’t want to discredit any of the good Muller has done for this team.

He has stepped up in a big way for this team when they needed him and unfortunately, today, he had one of those games where none of his stuff was effective.

I hate that for Kyle but his future is extremely bright in Atlanta and he should be encouraged by the way he performed overall.

However, that chance to improve upon this start won’t come at Truist Park.

After Thursday’s game, Muller is expected to be optioned back to Triple-A Gwinnett and likely replaced by Huascar Ynoa in the rotation.

The Braves venture out on a 9-game road trip where they will face the Washington Nationals, Miami Marlins, and Baltimore Orioles.

This is the kind of stretch where you have to win most, if not all of the games. It’s time to start putting pressure on the Phillies and Mets to show them we aren’t going away anytime soon.