Braves 5, Dodgers 3: Surrender lineup & replacement starter try their best, but can’t beat Atlanta

After shaping up to be a pretty boring/sad recap that wasn’t going to require me to make much of an effort thanks to what was mostly an excellent outing for Max Fried and a lineup that didn’t inspire a ton of confidence, naturally the Dodgers climbed their way back to make it close for a fleeting moment.

Thanks in part to a temporarily strong run by the bullpen following Mitch White‘s start and some timely hitting, it didn’t turn into the rout it looked like it could be. Suddenly the Dodgers started teasing a victory in a game they probably had no business being in, but a 3-3 tie in the 8th was the best they could muster as the Brusdar Graterol immediately exploded to open his inning right after the Dodgers evened the score.

Then, of course, Kenley Jansen arrived in the 9th to strikeout the side while facing Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy and Trea Turner.

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For the Dodgers’ offense, there wasn’t much early on against Fried.

Three baserunners through the first four innings came off of an infield single for Trea, a single by Bellinger and another a single by Freddie Freeman came in the 1st, 3rd and 4th innings, respectively, with no Dodger getting past second base. And I wrote that assuming I’d have a transition that said “but in the 5th inning…”, but instead Fried put the Dodgers down in order with a trio of swinging strikeouts against Trayce Thompson, Hanser Alberto and Bellinger.

A double by Trea didn’t amount to anything in the 6th, but finally in the 7th the Dodgers put a man at third for the first time in the game as Chris Taylor drew a leadoff walk after an 8-pitch at-bat and Justin Turner sent a ball slider to left to put up runners on the corners with no outs. But as the title here says, the surrender lineup meant Thompson, Alberto and Bellinger were due up, and sure enough Fried put down the first two swinging on 7 total pitches. However, one pitch after sending a 3-2 curveball just foul down the right field line, Bellinger rolled a fastball through the middle to bring in one run.

That was enough to chase Fried from the game after 6 2/3 innings and 9 strikeouts. With Atlanta Will Smith taking over on the mound, Austin Barnes managed to turn it over to the top of the order and drive in a second run credited to Fried with a single of his own to the opened up right side with Bellinger being held on.

And because you needed more drama after last night, a walk to Trea brought Freeman to the plate with the bases loaded. Which led to … honestly a pretty poor at-bat. A bad swing on well off the plate started the at-bat, and he followed with a check swing on a ball down with a called strike, making it a 1-2 count. Then…

Fortunately, Los Angeles Will Smith won the next round to open the 8th.

A single and stolen base (?) for JT put the go-ahead run at second with one away, but unfortunately the Thompson magic didn’t carry into this game as he and Alberto went down on strikes again with a man in scoring position.

Somehow neither Gavin Lux or Muncy were used in either of those situations, with the latter then wasted in the 9th against Jansen. Still, I suppose even getting three runs was a surprise with the way the game was going.

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As for the Dodgers’ pitching, they collectively did quite well. Starting his 5th game of the season and somehow still just the 9th of his career, White held the Braves hitless for the first 2 innings of the night while working around a walk apiece in the 1st and 2nd innings.

Recording a handful of flyouts in the first two innings, much of the contact was soft except for a deep fly ball from Austin Riley that took Bellinger to the 398-foot mark of the park before coming away with the out. Unfortunately, the contact picked up a bit in the 3rd as Michael Harris, Dansby Swanson and Riley came up with Atlanta’s first three hits of the day.

Harris II sent the first pitch of the inning to right for a double that was 112.7 mph off the bat, and he came in to score two batters later as Swanson took the first pitch of his at-bat 413 over the center field wall for a two-run homer. And while Harris II’s double came on a .810 xBA, Trayce didn’t make anyone forget Mookie Betts out in right.

A two-out single by Riley made it three hits at 105+ mph in the inning, but a foul out ended the inning.

While White settled back in through the 4th, with Orlando Arcia only reaching due to an error by JT, the 5th inning would end up as his last. Sitting at 67 pitches through 4, White ended up throwing just 8 more that resulted in infield hits for Ronald Acuna Jr. and Swanson. With the middle of the order coming up and no outs in the inning, Alex Vesia entered for White who completed his day with 5 hits and 2 walks allowed with 3 strikeouts in 4+ innings.

A strikeout of Matt Olson and a pickoff that eventually led to an out set Vesia up to escape the inning, but four straight foul balls for Riley in a 1-2 account led to a two-out double to center to score a run. Vesia got ahead 1-2 on all fastballs and threw three more across the four straight foul balls before going back to a slider that Riley connected with for their third run. Thankfully that was it as Vesia got out of the inning with a weak grounder to the catcher, limiting the damage to just the one run.

Before Graterol immediately melted down in the 8th, the bullpen had done well to pick up some scoreless innings after White departed.

David Price entered in the 6th and threw a scoreless inning despite a walk and infield single, striking out Arcia and Acuna Jr. on fastballs. Hitting 94.3 mph with the fastball according to the gun, Price sat well above his 92.1 average this season and maxed at 95.8 with his last pitch of the inning to get Acuna Jr. And while Price looked pretty impressive, Evan Phillips arrived in the 7th and put together an 8-pitch inning that included a pop up, a grounder to 3rd and a swinging strikeout.

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The Dodgers finish the three-game series in Atlanta tomorrow with Tony Gonsolin pitching after a loss for the fifth consecutive start dating back to June 2. For the Braves, 23-year-old right-hander Spencer Strider and his 3.40 ERA/2.36 FIP/2.72 xFIP will take the mound for the 4 p.m. PT first pitch on ESPN.

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.