BALTIMORE -- In games in which Atlanta knocked multiple home runs, it had won 16 consecutive games -- the longest such streak in the Majors -- coming into Saturday’s Interleague contest against the Orioles at Camden Yards.
On the flip side, in starts in which Drew Smyly had allowed a home run this season, the Braves had a 5-8 record.
Since both of these instances occurred before the end of the fifth inning vs. the Orioles, it was difficult to discern which direction the game would take. That was until the bullpen took over in the sixth, carrying the Braves to their eighth consecutive win, 5-4.
“I don't know that I've ever been a part of anything like that,” said Braves manager Brian Snitker of the winning streak. “[It would] be great to come out and finish the trip ... it’s been a long trip here. We've taken [six] series, which is what we need to do. It'd be great to come out and put a nice cap on this road trip.”
After a day off, thanks to Max Fried’s Maddux performance on Friday, the ’pen was well-rested and ready to preserve a one-run lead. It put up zeros until the final inning, when lefty reliever Will Smith allowed a home run, bringing the Orioles within one.
Smyly delivered five innings, allowing three runs and fanning eight. His outing marked his 14th consecutive start without a loss, tied for the third-longest active streak in the Majors.
“It just means I'm giving us a chance to win,” said Smyly. “I'm not going to sit here and say it's been dominant every time or pretty, but I think I've done my part to give us a chance. It's going to take guys behind me coming in to throw zeros up, like the bullpen has been doing quite a bit, and the offense to score runs. It's just kind of been team wins all along.”
Richard Rodriguez, who was acquired at the Trade Deadline from the Pirates, has shifted from closer to a middle-innings role, and he delivered a shutout sixth inning. Between Rodriguez and Tyler Matzek, who pitched 1 1/3 scoreless, Smyly feels confident handing over close games to the ’pen.
“Very confident,” Smyly said with a smile. “Those guys have been lights-out for a long time now. Every guy that takes the ball, they're all really, really good down there. As a starting pitcher, I think that's all of our jobs, just give us a chance and hand it over to the bullpen. We know our offense is going to score and those guys [in the bullpen] have been throwing up a ton of zeros.”
Atlanta had a big day at the plate, with Dansby Swanson hitting a two-run double and Joc Pederson and Austin Riley smacking solo homers.
“Early on in the season, [we were] not able to find that groove,” said Riley. It seems like we're doing that right now. With our arms and on the offensive side, it’s just huge to continue to build that momentum.”