ATLANTA -- It was Kyle Wright’s ugliest start of the season thus far. But given how it concluded, it may also prove to be his most beneficial start of the year.
Wright’s splendid ERA was bruised as he surrendered six runs during the second inning of a 9-4 loss to the Red Sox on Tuesday night at Truist Park. But the Braves right-hander’s ability to compose himself and pitch into the fifth inning further proved how far he has come over the past year.
“To be able to push through and get deeper into the game was really important for me,” Wright said. “You’ve got to learn from the good ones and you’ve got to learn from the bad ones. I’ll definitely learn from this one and try to be better moving forward.”
Wright’s ERA rose from 1.74 to 3.03 as he allowed six runs on seven hits and four walks over 4 2/3 innings. Four of those hits and half of those walks were surrendered during the decisive second inning. However you look at it, this wasn’t a desired result. But instead of viewing it as a step backwards, it might be best to just view this as one bad inning.
“It’s always going to be a learning experience for these guys,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “Things are going really good and there are going to be setbacks. Things aren't going to go as planned and perfect. You're going to have to weather storms, and I kind of feel like he did tonight.”
Wright’s rough inning prevented the Braves from claiming a third straight win for the first time this year. But the reigning World Series champions know this rejuvenated right-hander remains a key piece in their bid to win a fifth consecutive National League East crown.
This was just the 20th regular-season start of Wright’s young career. Yes, he spent this season’s first month showing the incredible talents that led the Braves to take him with the fifth overall selection in the 2017 MLB Draft. Now, he will attempt to show the moxy he gained when his 4 2/3-inning relief appearance allowed Atlanta to win Game 4 of last year’s World Series.
Wright isn’t the same wide-eyed kid who produced a 6.93 ERA in the 14 regular-season starts he had made entering this year. He completed at least five innings in just five of those 14 starts. This latest outing created further reason to believe he will now better handle inevitable adversity.
“I’m tired of going back to years past, because this is this year and I feel like I’m a different pitcher now,” Wright said. “But in years past, I don’t get past that second inning. I probably give up a few more runs.”
Wright’s second-inning woes began with two one-out singles and were extended with the four-pitch walk surrendered to Franchy Cordero. This was the first sign he might be attempting to be too fine, a flaw that hindered him in the past.
After Christian Vázquez singled in the game’s first run, Jackie Bradley fell behind with a 1-2 count and then drew a bases-loaded walk. Two batters later, Rafael Devers hit a grand slam on a first-pitch center-cut fastball.
“I think I was trying to be too fine once I got to two strikes [against Devers],” Wright said. “Then to Devers, I feel like that was the guy I should have been more passive with. I think there were a lot of things I didn’t navigate very well. I’ll definitely learn from it.”
Within a span of 24 pitches, Wright bid adieu to the sparkling stats he had compiled in his previous five starts this season. But instead of folding like he might have in the past, he finished one out shy of completing five innings. Wright won’t want to dwell on this outing long. But it’s one that could make him stronger as he attempts to prove this year truly is different.
“I’m sure there are things he’s going to draw on that will help him down the road,” Snitker said.