But as the Braves walked away from a 5-3 loss to the Marlins in 10 innings on Monday night, there was some reason for concern. For the second time in the past seven games, the bullpen blew an eighth-inning lead.
“There’s gonna be some days like today where guys are off a little bit,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It’s just the world of baseball.”
Bullpen struggles were not something the Braves had to deal with last year, when they were 23-0 when leading after the seventh. They are 2-2 in such games thus far in 2021.
One day after top setup man Chris Martin left an April 4 game with finger numbness caused by right shoulder inflammation, the Braves blew a one-run eighth-inning lead at Nationals Park.
With Martin unavailable on Monday night, the Braves blew a two-run eighth-inning lead and squandered a great performance by Ynoa, who recorded a career-high 10 strikeouts while allowing just one run over six innings.
“He was really strong, and I can’t say enough about it,” Snitker said of the 22-year-old hurler who had never completed more than four innings before last week.
The Braves had won four straight before losing to the Phillies in controversial fashion on Sunday night.
Coincidentally, former Braves reliever Shane Greene watched Sunday’s game while casually standing beyond the left-center-field seats. Though it seems Atlanta needs bullpen help, there is no indication the team is pursuing Greene, who surprisingly remains a free agent after posting a 2.60 ERA last year.
Ultimately, Monday’s loss was pinned on Jacob Webb, who was reintroduced to the extra-inning rule as he made his season debut. In other words, there was an automatic runner on second before he threw his first pitch of the season.
But before looking at his tough-luck results, the Braves wouldn’t have been in that position had A.J. Minter not walked each of the three batters he faced to open the eighth. Minter recorded a strike with just six of his 18 pitches. The only out Minter recorded came via a caught stealing awarded via replay reversal. Minter exited in favor of Nate Jones, who immediately allowed Garrett Cooper’s game-tying two-run double.
Had Martin been healthy, that situation might not have been given to Minter, who also blew last week’s eighth-inning lead at Nationals Park.
Webb induced soft contact with each of the three hits he surrendered -- Starling Marte’s leadoff single (62.5 mph exit velocity), Cooper’s go-ahead single (86.3 mph) and Brian Anderson’s double (76.8 mph).
“Sometimes stuff doesn't go your way,” Braves catcher Alex Jackson said. “It's how you battle back from that.”
Ynoa touched 100 mph with his four-seamer and averaged 97.2 mph with the pitch during this 82-pitch outing. He has struck out 15 batters and has allowed just one run in 12 innings, and he will start again on Saturday in Chicago.
“I'm feeling really good physically and mentally,” Ynoa said. “I feel like I'm kind of carrying some confidence in there as well.”