The Atlanta Braves own Major League Baseball’s worst record, yet it was hard to tell in their 8-4 victory Wednesday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
In this game, the Pirates were out-hit 15-4, and thus far in the two games this series, the Braves have 25 hits to the Pirates nine.
After allowing the Pirates to have a four-run first inning, the Braves scored at least one run in six consecutive frames.
Early on it appeared the narrative would be the Pirates victimizing a starting pitcher in Rob Whalen, who was making his major league debut.
With Gregory Polanco on base following a one-out single and Starling Marte hit by a pitch, Matt Joyce stepped to the plate. Joyce was starting in left field as Andrew McCutchen likely is being benched for the series.
Joyce saw an 0-1 cutter from Whalen that he hit over the center field wall for his 11th home run of the season. An additional run scored when Whalen threw a wild pitch during Jeff Locke’s at-bat.
Locke has had road numbers that are well below par with a 7.33 ERA away from PNC Park, and after this game, that figure elevated to 7.59. Locke had a 1-1 record with a 7.16 ERA since the beginning of July and that figure elevated to 8.02.
That is because Locke allowed five runs on nine hits in 4.1 innings pitched as his record fell to 8-7 on the season.
Slowly but surely, the Braves got back into the game. Anthony Recker capitalized on Nick Markakis’s second-inning lead-off double with an RBI ground out that scored the right fielder.
An inning later it was Freddie Freeman, who capitalized on an Adonis Garcia double with a double of his own. Recker followed in the fourth inning with another RBI double, this time scoring Ender Inciarte who led off the inning with a single.
Locke started the fifth inning walking Freeman and allowing a double to Matt Kemp. Markakis then hit a sacrifice fly tying the game, and Inciarte got one of his three hits in this game with an RBI single.
The fifth inning featured no mound visit for Locke, just the pull after Inciarte’s single. Locke threw 86 pitches and threw 57 strikes.
After Jared Hughes finished the fifth inning, Juan Nicasio pitched the next two. Nicasio did get four strikeouts in the outing but also gave up three runs.
Nicasio opened his appearance surrendering consecutive singles to pinch-hitter Jace Peterson and Gordon Beckham. Garcia then added a third single plating Peterson. Later in the inning, Kemp added a sacrifice fly.
Inciarte singled to lead off the seventh inning and scored when Erick Aybar recorded his first triple this season.
Ryan Vogelsong (1-1, 3.74 ERA) will make his first major league appearance since May 23 when he was sent to the hospital with facial fractures. Tyrell Jenkins (1-2, 4.91 ERA) gets the starting nod for Atlanta. Vogelsong is 2-3 with a 5.08 ERA in eight career appearances (five starts) against the Braves.
Photo credit: @Pirates