ATLANTA -- Jose Bautista joined the Braves hoping to extend the fun that had been experienced over the previous week. Instead, he arrived during the most frustrating series the team has experienced thus far.There was a buzz in the air as the Braves entered this series looking forward to the
ATLANTA -- Jose Bautista joined the Braves hoping to extend the fun that had been experienced over the previous week. Instead, he arrived during the most frustrating series the team has experienced thus far.
There was a buzz in the air as the Braves entered this series looking forward to the chance to extend a five-game winning streak, while also introducing Ronald Acuna Jr. and Bautista to the home crowd. But the excitement had faded by the time the veteran-laden Giants had completed a three-game sweep with Sunday afternoon's 4-3 win at SunTrust Park.
"This won't be the first series that things don't go your way," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "We play way too many games, for too long, for everything to just click and be perfect all the time. You're going to have to fight your way through situations like this."
Bautista doubled off the center-field wall in his first at-bat of the season on Friday, and singled to begin Sunday's ninth inning. The two-time American League Hank Aaron Award winner scored on a Kurt Suzuki pinch-hit double that also positioned Johan Camargo to score on Ender Inciarte's RBI groundout.
Just when it looked like the Braves' offense had come to life just in time for the team to avoid its first sweep of the season, Ozzie Albies stranded Suzuki at third base with a series-ending pop fly.
A young and exciting Braves club was simply overwhelmed by an experienced Giants club that has won 11 of its past 14 games. Atlanta's potent offense was hoping to add some firepower with Friday's addition of Bautista. But this group, which had averaged 5.7 runs per game entering the series, totaled just nine runs against San Francisco's pitching staff.
"Things happen," Inciarte said. "We're not going to win 20 in a row. We can win five and then lose three, then win 10 and then lose seven. It's going to happen like that. We've just got to try to stay consistent. It's a long season."
With nearly a fifth of the season complete, the Braves can feel good about the fact they still sit atop the National League East and possess the NL's highest-scoring offense. But the humbling nature of this game was felt this weekend, as the five-game winning streak carried into Friday seemed like a distant memory by Sunday, when the team encountered its first three-game losing streak.
After roughing up Mike Foltynewicz and Brandon McCarthy during the first two games of this series, the Giants took advantage of an inefficient outing from Mike Soroka, who allowed four earned runs and lasted just four innings in the series finale. The 20-year-old right-hander surrendered seven hits -- all singles -- and issued three walks while making just his second career start.
"They took some good pitches early," Soroka said. "The sinker was a little flatter than I would have liked coming out of the game. I got away from attacking and put myself in a lot of hitter's counts. You've got to be perfect. Next time, the goal will definitely be to keep attacking."
The Giants tallied three hits during a two-run third inning and added three more during a two-run fourth inning. Soroka was nowhere near as impressive as he had been while limiting the Mets to one run over six innings in his big league debut Tuesday. But the Braves had certainly found ways to win in similar outings over the course of this season.
"[Soroka] is going to take something away from every outing, especially during his first year," Snitker said. "There are going to be things that go on, and things he experiences, facing the more experienced lineups."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Alen Hanson didn't hesitate on a grounder to Freddie Freeman in the fourth inning. Hanson sprinted home and went sliding headfirst, avoiding Tyler Flowers' tag as he swiped the plate and scored on Gregor Blanco's fielder's choice. Freeman scooped the ball at the edge of the infield grass and instantly made an accurate throw, but by the time Flowers applied the tag on Hanson's shoulder, the Giants' second baseman's fingers had already touched the plate.
Soroka frequently fell behind hitters as he recorded a strike with just 49 of his 84 pitches, but he was also a victim of some tough luck. Just two of the seven singles he surrendered were produced with an exit velocity that exceeded 83.5 mph and just one (Hanson's fourth-inning leadoff single) was produced with an exit velocity that exceeded 95.0 mph.
"You get out there and you've just got to realize a lot of those pitches are outs on most days," Soroka said. "Some days they're going to fall. That's the way baseball is."
HE SAID IT
"That was a small highlight for sure. You've just got to see ball, hit ball. He left one out over the plate. I stayed on it and just punched one over the middle." -- Soroka, on recording his first career hit
Sean Newcomb will take the mound when the Braves open a two-game series against the Rays Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. ET at Tropicana Field. Newcomb limited the Mets to two hits over seven scoreless innings his last time out. Bautista will serve as Atlanta's designated hitter. Blake Snell comes in winning 4 straight decisions for Tampa Bay.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.