Rodón stellar, but Giants stung in 9th

June 23rd, 2022

ATLANTA -- Carlos Rodón continued his dominance on the mound, but his performance was spoiled by a three-run ninth-inning surge in the Giants' 4-3 loss to the Braves on Wednesday at Truist Park.

Rodón began the season with four consecutive impressive outings, giving up just three runs over 23 innings in April. But after a rough May where he gave up 17 runs in 27 innings, the left-hander had to reevaluate to get back on track. The beginning to the third month of the season has been very familiar. Through five starts, he's allowed five runs (four earned) over 30 innings.

The 29-year-old tossed seven innings Wednesday, giving up one run on three hits and a walk while fanning 10 batters, his 15th career double-digit strikeout game and third this season, in the loss. His 23 whiffs induced (57 swings) is tied for 13th most across the Majors this year and is tied for second-most for Rodón this season. He induced 24 whiffs on April 9 in a 2-1 loss to the Marlins, and he forced 23 whiffs on May 9 in an 8-5 win over the Rockies.

When Rodón is missing bats, he says that he gets more horizontal and vertical with his fastball, which induced 10 whiffs on Wednesday. He notices a change in the pitch’s profile and positioning when he’s actively getting swings and misses.

"I was fortunate to have a good day, and they're not always going to be like that," Rodón said. "It was a good, solid seven innings.”

John Brebbia held the Braves scoreless with a perfect eighth, including two strikeouts. But for the second game in a row, the Giants bullpen allowed two or more runs in the ninth.

Dansby Swanson led off with a solo homer on a 3-2 pitch to bring the Braves within one.

"Right there, I'd rather have him hit a homer than walk him," said Jake McGee, who was charged with three runs on three hits in the ninth. "At that time, you don't want a guy on first base with a two-run lead, and then the next guy hits a homer and it's a tie game. They can bunt, they can hit and run, there comes so many more things if you walk the guy. You'd rather give up the homer there and start fresh with the next guy."

Marcell Ozuna followed with a single, and Matt Olson's deep fly ball nearing the warning track gave Ozuna the opportunity to catch Austin Slater, who pinch-hit for Joc Pederson in the eighth, by surprise and tag up, putting the tying run 180 feet away with one out for the scorching hot Braves lineup.

"I didn't really expect it," Slater said. "I mean, I guess it turned out to be a good play, kind of the difference in the game."

After William Contreras singled home the tying run, the Giants put in Tyler Rogers, who tossed two scoreless innings in Tuesday's win.

If the Giants gave the Braves an inch, they took a mile. With the right-hander pitching submarine, Contreras, who entered the game with one stolen base in his young career, stole second to set up the winning run in scoring position.

"[The Braves] understand the strategy of bringing Rogers into that game, you're trying to get a ground-ball double play," manager Gabe Kapler said. "So they're trying to stay out of that ground-ball double play. I think they were banking on either a tough pitch to throw on, which it was, or a ball in play."

Slater had the opportunity to throw Contreras out at the plate on Adam Duvall's walk-off single, but his 98.5 mph throw was slightly up the line and just late.

The Giants have one more game to look forward to in Atlanta with each of the first six games of their road trip decided by two or fewer runs. The final game of the four-game series will be a chance to even the series with Wild Card implications looming.

"Listen, man, it's baseball," Rodón said. "That's a very good team. It's a very good lineup. You just roll with it. On to tomorrow."