Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
High-event seventh inning swings in Blue Jays’ favour as they outmatch Braves 5-2
By Thomas Hall9 months ago
Saturday’s showdown between the Toronto Blue Jays and Atlanta Braves felt like an unpredictable movie thriller. Just as the storyline was about to turn in one direction, it swung the opposite way. The opening featured a slow burn, as any good film does. But when the climax arrived, it didn’t pull any punches.
And thankfully for the home team, they avoided disaster multiple times before ultimately coming out on top in this afternoon affair, which kept baseball fans on the edge of their seats all game.
José Berríos, carrying a 4.91 ERA into his eighth start of the season, looked like his 2021 self early on, tossing a spotless first inning. He gave the home crowd a jump scare in the second, though, allowing a two-run shot off Marcell Ozuna’s bat after leaving a fastball over the heart of the plate – one of many instances where his command was far from pinpoint.
That translated into three walks on the day for Berríos. But he made quality pitches when he had to. And when he found himself in trouble, the Blue Jays right-hander trusted his defence to bail him out, which they did on numerous occasions.
George Springer, in particular, made one of his best catches of the season in right field. With runners on the corners and two outs in the fifth inning, the four-time All-Star made a leaping grab on a line drive from Eddie Rosario, stealing a potential hit that produced a .410 xAVG and preventing
Ronald Acuna Jr. from scoring.
Ronald Acuna Jr. from scoring.
As for Toronto’s offence, it should be no surprise that Bo Bichette was the club’s main contributor, cashing in a pair of runs while going 2-for-4, enjoying his 15th multi-hit performance of 2023. His first of two RBIs tied the game at 2-2 in the fifth, driving in Kevin Kiermaier, who doubled and swiped third on a wild pitch – setting the tone that saw the Blue Jays run circles around the Braves on the bases – before crossing home plate.
Bichette’s single not only knotted the score, but also added to the intensity of what proved to be a high-stress seventh inning for both teams.
After Yimi Garcia recorded the final out of the sixth in relief of Berríos, the veteran righty returned to begin the next inning, only to surrender a scorching 112.8-mph single from Acuna before issuing consecutive walks to load the bases with no outs. But even with Erik Swanson warming in the bullpen, manager John Schneider stuck with his hard-throwing reliever against the red-hot Sean Murphy.
That decision, however, worked in Schneider’s favour as Garcia induced a weakly-hit infield chopper that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. fired home to get Acuna. Then a call to the ‘pen was made, with Swanson entering an improbable situation with all three bags occupied and only one out. But he came through, as he’s done repeatedly this season, retiring Rosario and Ozzie Albies to end the threat.
Then it was the Blue Jays’ turn to create havoc, and they obliged, stringing together three straight singles and a sac-fly from Guerrero to take a 4-2 lead into the eighth inning. Back out came Swanson, who struggled with his command, walking Ozuna, but erased that mistake with an inning-ending double play.
After Danny Jansen’s RBI double gave Toronto an extra insurance run in the bottom half, closer Jordan Romano entered in the ninth and was as dominant as ever, getting Acuna to groundout before securing a 5-2 victory with a pair of strikeouts.
It saw the Blue Jays play their game, not the Braves’, through good defence, baserunning and timely hitting. And that provided one of baseball’s most elite relievers with plenty of breathing room to put this one to bed.
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