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Joyce homers as bats pick up Folty in win

Veteran continues to make most of chances with three outfielders hurt
@KeeganMatheson
August 28, 2019

TORONTO -- Mike Foltynewicz didn’t quite replicate his success from his last time out, but Matt Joyce and the Braves’ lineup picked the right time to put together a big night by powering a 9-4 win over the Blue Jays on Wednesday at Rogers Centre. • Box score Foltynewicz battled

TORONTO -- Mike Foltynewicz didn’t quite replicate his success from his last time out, but Matt Joyce and the Braves’ lineup picked the right time to put together a big night by powering a 9-4 win over the Blue Jays on Wednesday at Rogers Centre.

Box score

Foltynewicz battled through three scoreless innings to open the game and was handed an early lead when Atlanta put up a five-run second, including a solo shot into the second deck off the bat of Joyce, his fifth of the season.

With Ender Inciarte, Nick Markakis and Austin Riley all on the injured list, Joyce has been thrust into a more prominent role after serving as a bench bat for most of the season. Wednesday was just Joyce’s 21st start despite his near-nightly appearances, this time as the designated hitter, and his strong play has helped to patch up what could have been a sudden weakness for the Braves as they push for the postseason. He went 3-for-5 with two RBIs from the fifth spot in the order.

“When he’s gotten the opportunities, he’s done a really good job,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “He gives you a professional at-bat. He’s gotten some big hits, even with all the pinch-hitting he’s done. It’s the hardest job in baseball, probably, and he’s made the most of his opportunities to start.”

Ronald Acuña Jr. hit a two-run double in that second inning and Freddie Freeman tacked on an RBI double. Joyce added an RBI single in the seventh before Freeman launched his 36th home run of the season, a 412-foot no-doubter to center, in the ninth.

“We needed that,” Snitker said. “We needed to come out and score some runs. It’s good to get on the board early, and so it was something that’s a smattering of what we’re capable of. We needed to score some runs, and we did.”

The Braves have gotten plenty of help from their big names this season, especially the top three of Acuna, Ozzie Albies and Freeman. But the top-to-bottom contributions have left Snitker particularly impressed over this difficult six-game road trip, which saw them head to Colorado between the two series at New York and Toronto to make up a postponed matchup. They return to Atlanta for a nine-game homestand after going 4-2.

“The bottom half of the lineup was big in New York, all three of those games,” Snitker said. “That’s a good thing. Those [top] guys, they’re about as good as it gets. And if they’re not hitting on all cylinders and you can still win games, that’s pretty good.”

Foltynewicz finished with three runs allowed (two earned) on eight hits over 4 2/3 innings, and he also got a helping hand from his bullpen on the way out the door in the fifth.

After Randal Grichuk advanced to third base on a passed ball, Foltynewicz walked the final batter he faced to put runners on the corners with two outs and a two-run lead. Luke Jackson took over with Teoscar Hernandez at the plate and struck him out swinging to escape the jam.

“It was a battle tonight,” Foltynewicz said. “I know it seems like a broken record. I keep saying, ‘It was a battle tonight and a lot of stressful pitches,’ but I was proud of how I got out of some of those innings. We put up a five-spot in the second. I could have easily given that right back up, so to put a couple of zeros up in a couple of good spots, that was good to see. The bullpen did a terrific job of saving my butt."

Keegan Matheson is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter @KeeganMatheson.