ATLANTA -- Anibal Sanchez is highly confident he'll be ready to make his next start. But he's also cognizant that his uncontrollable early exit from his latest outing could have a lingering effect on the Braves, who have now gone four straight games without a starting pitcher completing more than five innings.
As Braves manager Brian Snitker digested Tuesday night's 5-3 loss to the Reds at SunTrust Park, he was already looking forward to how his recently taxed bullpen may benefit from Thursday's off-day.
"A day-and-a-half off is not going to come any too soon, that's for sure for a lot of these guys, especially that bullpen," Snitker said, while accounting for the early start of Wednesday afternoon's game against the Reds.
Sanchez took the mound knowing that the bullpen had been taxed over the previous four days by a pair of extra-inning games and three relatively early exits from starting pitchers. But he had no choice to make his own premature departure when his right calf cramped after he got ahead of Joey Votto with a 0-1 pitch with two outs in the fifth inning.
"I know the bullpen had been working a lot the last couple games," Sanchez said. "I think today I could have pitched a couple more innings because my pitch count wasn't high. I don't like to leave like that. I just have to handle for the next outing, so that doesn't happen again."
As Sanchez confidently looks forward to making his next scheduled start Monday night at Yankee Stadium, he and his teammates can at least take solace in the fact that Matt Wisler, whom the Braves recalled on Tuesday, limited additional wear and tear on the bullpen by providing 2 1/3 relief innings. Shane Carle completed the final two frames.
Even with Wisler, Carle and Jesse Biddle likely unavailable for Wednesday's game, the Braves do not believe they will need to add a reliever as they try to avoid going 2-4 on a homestand against a pair of last-place clubs in the Orioles and Reds.
Before exiting, Sanchez surrendered a fifth-inning RBI double to Scott Schebler and a fourth-inning RBI single to Jesse Winker, whose eighth-inning single also accounted for one of the two runs charged to Carle.
While seeing another of their starters exit early, the Braves mustered just one run against Reds starter Matt Harvey in a season-high 6 2/3 innings. Harvey had allowed at least five runs in four of the final five appearances he made against Atlanta while pitching for the Mets. But the only costly damage he incurred in this outing came courtesy of Tyler Flowers's fourth-inning RBI double.
"We did [have a lot of opportunities to score]," Flowers said. "A couple balls that we hit hard at them but just found gloves and things like that. But that's out of our control. [We need to] stay with our approach and hit the ball hard and it will go our way next time."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Nick Markakis was saddled with tough luck at the conclusion of two of his plate appearances against Harvey. The National League hits leader laced a 105.8-mph comebacker, according to Statcast™, that Harvey knocked down before catching Ozzie Albies too far off third base to minimize the fourth-inning damage.
Markakis also produced a 103.4-mph exit velocity with his sixth-inning liner that second baseman Scooter Gennett gloved before doubling Albies off first base.
"My God, Markakis hit two balls about as hard as you can hit them and nothing happened for it," Snitker said. "We had some opportunities and we were just a hit or so away from pulling it out."
The Braves have erased a deficit in the seventh inning or later an NL-best 14 times this season. It appeared they might add to this total when Ender Inciarte opened the eighth with a single off Amir Garrett's left leg. Garrett immediately exited, prompting the entry of Michael Lorenzen, who allowed an Albies double and consecutive RBI groundouts that pulled the Braves within a run. But Raisel Iglesias stranded two when Johan Camargo flied out to end the inning.
HE SAID IT
"They've got their team back. They were missing some of their starters. I don't think they played great in April. The third baseman [Eugenio Suarez] missed how much time and you look up and, my God, he's having an All-Star year. They are playing a lot better ball than they were when we were [in Cincinnati in April]. It's a pretty good team." -- Snitker, on the Reds, who have gone 30-28 since beginning the season with a 3-18 record
Sean Newcomb will take the mound for the Braves at 12:10 p.m. ET in Wednesday's finale with the Reds at SunTrust Park. The Braves' southpaw has allowed fewer than two runs in eight of his 15 starts. Atlanta has won all but one of those eight games. Luis Castillo will get the start for the Reds. Castillo picked up his first win in nearly a month against the Cubs last Friday.