For 8 2/3 innings tonight, it was the young battery of the Braves of Tucker Davidson and William Contreras who were the brilliant starts to tonight’s game. However, it was another young player from the other dugout who stole the show at the Philly‘batting final that resulted in a heartbreaking loss for the Braves.
Davidson actually got off to a bit of a rough start. After the Braves fell in order early in the first inning to Zach Eflin, Davidson worked around a single and walked to keep the Phillies off the scoreboard. Atlanta then decided to go to work early in the second inning, as a mistake, a goal and a single charged the goals with no strikeouts. Unfortunately, two strikeouts and one strikeout followed, and the Braves couldn’t take advantage of an ideal early opportunity.
Davidson allowed two more singles late in the second, but once again came out of trouble unscathed. After a lot of activity at the beginning, Eflin and Davidson found their rhythms. In the third inning, Eflin rounded a single while Davidson didn’t let any Austin Riley mistakes do the damage. Both pitchers worked around an opposition brace in their fourth inning half. In the fifth, Eflin used a double play to secure the Braves in order while Davidson called with a 1-2-3 in the bottom half of the inning.
At the start of the sixth inning, the Braves finally broke through. Although a double play from Riley resulted in two quick strikeouts, Dansby Swanson, Abraham Almonte and William Contreras each scored and Swanson scored accordingly to make it 1-0. It was Contreras’ third hit of the game, and he once again delivered in a clutch situation. He was certainly a real asset for the attack in place of the injured Travis d’Arnaud.
Although he gave in aloud to Andrew MuCutchen, Davidson pulled the Phillies out again to end his night in the sixth inning. In six innings, Davidson only needed 90 shots to put in an outstanding performance, allowing just four hits, zero runs, one walk and producing four strikeouts. Of those 90 shots, 59 were strikes. At only his fourth career appearance, Davidson was truly impressive and likely earned himself an extended look in the Braves’ rotation.
Unfortunately, the Braves couldn’t back him up with a win.
Ranger Suarez and Tyler Matzek did their job in the seventh inning with neither attack reaching base. Suarez once again did his job early in the eighth inning, while Chris Martin threw a perfect eighth backstop for the Braves. Suarez threw a perfect third inning early in the ninth, ending a great effort to keep the score 1-0 in favor of the Braves. Will Smith took the mound late in the ninth inning and immediately put Rhys Hoskins out on a strikeout.
After McCutchen walked, Brad Miller came out for the second out. Luke Williams then took a step towards the plate. Williams was called up last night and made his major league debut as a pinch hitter last night, and received his first start tonight. Having already scored a brace earlier in the game, Williams once again hit a two-run home run against Smith, which saw the Phillies claim the final at-bat by a 2-1 score.
A dominant performance from Davidson will certainly be of value going forward, but a devastating loss is obviously the key to remember tonight. The Braves are now 0-5 in games this season when they try to go above 0.500. The key is not to let the impact of that loss linger beyond tonight, as the Braves have little room for error in a critical part of the season. Hopefully, with an early start tomorrow, they’ll be set for a win to win the series.