The Braves couldn't pick up a win in the series finale against the Blue Jays, falling 7-2 at TD Ballpark.
Ian Anderson took the mound in Sunday’s matinee on the day he turned 23, but the Braves’ young star didn’t have the birthday performance he was looking for.
“It was a grind from the get-go" manager Brian Snitker said. "They just didn't have a real good feel for anything really, [Anderson] just grinded his way through the innings. Just struggled his way through some of them innings, and [it] was just one of those days.”
In the bottom of the second, Anderson allowed an RBI single from Danny Jansen to tie the game at 1. The third inning brought more of the same, as a double from Marcus Semien drove in two runs and gave the Blue Jays a 3-1 lead.
“It's tough following up two really good ones with ones like this," Anderson said, "but that's kind of part of it. We’ll move on from this one and hopefully there’ll be many more like those last two."
Anderson held opponents scoreless through 13 2/3 innings in his two starts prior to Sunday. In the series finale, Anderson had his changeup going with a 47% swing-and-miss percentage, which he wisely used to set up his fastball and curve. Anderson finished the game allowing four runs on six hits and two walks, with five strikeouts through 4 innings.
“Yeah I think I just made a couple of mistakes with the breaking ball and ended up paying for them a little bit," Anderson said. "I feel like I was a few pitches away and just kind of didn't execute, and that can be the difference up here. Their lineup did a good job of taking some really close pitches and made me work. But yeah, there’s a few pitches I want back. Definitely.”
Despite some moments in which he seemed to find his groove, Toronto took advantage of Anderson’s mistakes to halt any momentum and hand Anderson his first loss of the season.
“I think our game plan was good, just a couple of pitches that I did not execute, and if I do it's probably a different outcome,” said Anderson.
A silver lining for the Braves came in the second inning, when William Contreras hit an RBI single to left field to bring in Ozzie Albies. Contreras was recalled from the alternate site Sunday morning, following the injury to Travis d’Arnaud Saturday night. Contreras stayed calm at the plate in his first at-bat and delivered to give the Braves an early 1-0 lead in the second.
“He's going to get some very valuable on-the-job training,” said Snitker. “He’s matured a lot and I thought he did a good job of handling stuff today -- it was a rough ride for him. But they say he's a kid with skills and tools, and we're just gonna have to be patient with him and work with him, because he's going to have to do the bulk of the catching now.”
Atlanta's offense didn't have the best day collectively, but the bottom of the Braves’ lineup -- including Austin Riley, Cristian Pache, and Contreras -- made an immediate impact. Riley went 4-for-4 with one run scored on the afternoon, but Atlanta couldn't capitalize on the trio’s offensive production. Unfortunately for the Braves, the trend Sunday afternoon was leaving runners on base. Atlanta finished the game 3-for-10 with runners in scoring position while stranding eight baserunners. With the bases loaded in the top of the fifth inning, Ronald Acuña Jr. hit a sacrifice fly to drive home Riley and cut the Toronto lead in half, 4-2. For a second, Acuña's knock looked like it could go out, but he didn't have the distance for a home run.
Sunday marked the end of the Braves' second series this season that has resulted in a sweep, with the first coming Opening Weekend against the Phillies. With the loss Atlanta falls to fourth in the NL East with a 12-16 record.
“This is some kind of grind that we’ve been going through for the last five weeks, since we started the season,” said Snitker. “There’s nothing to do but just continue to grind through it. The good thing is, we're not where we want to be, but nobody’s running away with this division and we're right there. We just got to keep fighting through this thing and hopefully get hitting on all cylinders.”