Braves Make Statement with Series Win Over Phillies

By Olivia Sayer

Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Pierce Johnson works the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies Sunday, July 7, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

ATLANTA – The Braves entered their weekend series with the Phillies struggling. Atlanta’s offense was scuffling, and the team lost six of its last 10 games. However, against their NL East-leading rival, the Braves stepped up. 

Atlanta took two-of-three from Philadelphia. The offense showed signs of breaking out, while the pitching staff continued its solid season.

Atlanta Braves’ Jarred Kelenic runs to second on a double in the first inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Saturday, July 6, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brett Davis)

The series was not looking favorable for the Braves after game one. Trea Turner, who entered the matchup hitting .303 against Atlanta, continued his dominance over his division rival. Turner mashed two home runs off of Max Fried, who allowed five runs in six innings. The second long ball came on Fried’s 99th pitch of the game.

Despite Fried facing Turner for the third time, manager Brian Snitker did not consider pulling Atlanta’s ace.

“Max has never been one of those guys that I’ve worried about the third time through [the lineup],” Snitker said after the game. “He always has a way of making pitches.”

Fried left the game with the Braves trailing by two. However, a series of defensive miscues in the seventh extended the deficit to five. Atlanta committed three errors in the inning that saw seven Phillies come to the plate. 

“That inning got away from us,” Snitker said. “It was just uncharacteristic.”

As of Monday, the Braves committed the least amount of errors in MLB with 37. Their .988 fielding percentage is also tied with three other teams for best in the league. The group has performed well defensively, even after losing Ron Washington to the Angels. 

Despite the Braves losing game one by a score of 8-6, the offense showed signs of breaking out. The loss was just Atlanta’s 15th in 134 games since 2018 in which it hit at least three home runs and scored at least six runs. The offensive performance gave the Braves something to build upon for the rest of the series.

Looking to avoid its second consecutive series loss, rookie Spencer Schwellenbach took the mound for Atlanta in game two. Facing a Phillies lineup missing Bryce Harper, Kyle Schwarber and JT Realmuto, Schwellenbach took advantage. 

Atlanta Braves’ Marcell Ozuna, right, slides safely under the tag of Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Bryson Stott (5) in the fourth inning of a baseball game Saturday, July 6, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brett Davis)

He pounded the zone en route to six innings of one-run ball. Of Schwellenbach’s 81 total pitches, 60 went for strikes. Schwellenbach said he was trying to throw the ball just off the plate to induce soft contact. 

Atlanta’s offense also built upon its momentum established in game one. The Braves hit an additional pair of home runs, including one by Marcell Ozuna in the first inning. The three-run opening frame was all Atlanta needed to sail to a 5-1 victory.

Former manager Bobby Cox was in attendance to witness the win, which marked a special moment for both players and coaches. 

“It was awesome,” Snitker said of having his good friend in attendance. “I brought him in the clubhouse, and everybody went up and introduced themselves. We took a team picture, and it was really special.”

The magic carried into the series finale, where Atlanta won 6-0. It was the Braves’ first nine-inning regular season shutout of the Phillies since 2016 and took a complete team effort. 

“It was a good series,” Snitker said. “One got away from us, but that was a pretty good bounce back the past couple of days.”

The bottom of Atlanta’s order, which began the series stifling, shined in the rubber match. Adam Duvall, Orlando Arcia and Eli White combined for a 6-for-12 effort with two home runs in the finale.

Jarred Kelenic also continued his hot streak in the leadoff spot with a three-run shot. Kelenic, Duvall and Matt Olson gave the Braves their first three-homer inning since June 15. 

Atlanta’s bullpen shut down the Phillies throughout the series. Eight relievers only surrendered a combined one earned run in six innings. As of Monday, the Braves have the second-lowest team ERA in MLB with a 3.43.

The Braves have one final road trip prior to the All Star break. Atlanta will travel to Arizona for a four-game series with the Diamondbacks prior to facing the Padres for three games. Entering their series with Arziona, the Braves are 49-39 and eight games back in the NL East.

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