Braves 4, Dodgers 2: Another late homer for Albert, but that was about it

Truthfully, there’s not much to say after that game. Another quiet offensive effort led to just 1 run against Max Fried, while Trevor Bauer‘s slight drop in fastball spin rate will surely lead to some questions/complaints/suspicions.

The Braves tagged Bauer for 3 runs, but never put up more than 1 in an inning, while the Dodgers (34-25) failed to cash in on some opportunities in the 6th and 7th. Honestly, the only other takeaway was Albert Pujols, who made a few nice plays at first while driving in the team’s only two runs of the game. That’s great for him, but probably not what you want to see by the Dodgers in 2021.

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The Braves struck first with a run in the 2nd inning, but might have had a chance to break through in the 1st if it wasn’t for Pujols snagging a 104.8 mph liner off the bat of Freddie Freeman after Ronald Acuna Jr. drew a walk to open the game.

Dansby Swanson sent a fastball to left for a single on the first pitch of the 2nd inning, with Abraham Almonte sending another fastball over Cody Bellinger‘s head for a RBI double three pitches later. With the Dodgers’ offense going 9 up and 9 down through the first 3 innings, the Braves tacked on their second run in the 3rd thanks to a two-out walk to Freeman and Ozzie Albies sending another fastball to deep center for his own RBI double.

After being held without an extra-base hit in Saturday’s loss, Justin Turner snapped Fried’s run of 10 straight batters retired with a double in the 4th. Chris Taylor then suffered through his at-bat, first kneecapping himself with a foul ball and striking out looking on a fastball that looked like it was aiming at the same knee, before the Dodgers finally brought home a run. Pujols blooped a 2-1 fastball in for a single, scoring Turner and cutting the lead to 2-1.

Bauer nearly gave the run right back in the 4th, but managed to escape a bases-loaded jam. Ehire Adrianza came up with Atlanta’s third double of the day, this one on a cutter, with one away in the inning. William Contreras followed up with a grounder to third that left everyone safe and Adrianza on third, before Bauer walked Fried to load the bases. Acuna Jr. took a first pitch slider for a strike, and then fouled one straight up in foul territory and into Will Smith‘s glove to end the inning.

Following a quiet 5th for both sides, as both Fried and Bauer retired the side in order, 6th-inning singles for Mookie Betts and Turner eventually led to the two standing on second and third with Pujols at the plate. Getting ahead in the count 2-1 after a pair of curveballs missed the strike zone, Pujols fouled out to left as Almonte showed off some impressive range to track the ball down and end the inning.

While the Dodgers failed to tie or even take a lead of their own, the Braves built on their 2-1 advantage in the 6th. Bauer’s fourth walk of the day put Almonte on first to start the inning and Adrianza singled him up to second. Doing the Dodgers a favor, the Braves elected to have Contreras bunt, which predictably failed. A pop up to Smith gave Bauer his first out of the inning, but Ender Inciarte singled on an 0-2 curve to make it 3-1. Another bunt, this one by Fried, gave the Dodgers their second out before Bauer struck out Acuna Jr. to end another threat.

The decision to leave Fried in to bunt in the 6th sort of backfired just five pitches into the 7th, as AJ Pollock and Bellinger came up with singles to end the left-hander’s day there. However, the Braves turned to AJ Minter to face Smith, who popped out, and Gavin Lux, who flied out, forcing the Dodgers to send Max Muncy up to hit for Bauer. But Muncy only mustered a harmless fly out to end the inning, though his ankle seemed just fine while he was up there.

From there, the Dodgers offense didn’t put up much while David Price struggled for a second straight appearance. Unable to consistently find the strike zone, Price allowed a lead-off single and a pair of walks before Inciarte brought home a run with a sacrifice fly. Nate Jones entered to face the team that released him a month ago, immediately getting a pop out and finished the 8th with a strikeout of Acuna Jr.

Now down 4-1 in the 9th, Pujols made it 4-2 with another late homer that pushed him past Barry Bonds in all-time total bases, but Turner and Betts both hit weak fly outs after that to end the game.

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Bauer had given up just one double off his fastball this season before the Braves connected for two in the first three innings of the game. To be fair, he’d also given up just 5 doubles all season coming into the day, which now turned into 8 thanks to the Braves.

Finishing his day at 6 IP with 7 strikeouts, 4 walks and 6 hits allowed, Bauer allowed just the 3 runs as it could have been more with Acuna Jr. leaving five men on base.

The 6 hits were the most he has given up in a game this season, while the 4 walks matched his season high. If you paid attention to Twitter at all during the game, you could see Bauer’s spin rate took a bit of a dip against the Braves, primarily his fastball.

The 2612 on his 33 fastballs was also down from his 2779 from 2020, but still well ahead of the 2410 from 2019. Those 33 pitches make up a very small portion of the 579 he’d thrown going into the day. A quick check showed his average down at 2740 against the Astros on May 26, but it had typically been at least 2800 in his other starts. None of his fastballs reached 2800 during Sunday’s start, which will surely bring on some questions.

Honestly, it’ll be much more interesting to see how that trends from here on out before assuming something is up after one 33-pitch example.

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After taking Monday off to head north, the Dodgers will begin a three-game series against the Pirates (23-35), who had won three straight before losing to Miami on Sunday.

It’ll be Walker Buehler on Tuesday with Tony Gonsolin most likely making his return on Wednesday. Buehler will face JT Brubaker, who is coming off 6 scoreless innings against Colorado after allowing 12 runs across a combined 11 innings against the Braves and Cardinals. First pitch of the series opener is set for 4:05 p.m. PT.

About Cody Bashore

Cody Bashore is a lifelong Dodger fan originally from Carpinteria, California (about 80 miles north of Dodger Stadium along the coast). He left California to attend Northern Arizona University in 2011, and has lived in Arizona full-time since he graduated in 2014 with a journalism degree. He now works for the university’s athletics department after spending seven years with the local newspaper.