The Braves need a positive showing on their seven-game West trip. It’s off to a 1-0 start.
After building a four-run lead, the Braves required extra innings to defeat the Diamondbacks 7-6 on Thursday. The Braves entered the night 9-18 against the National League West this season.
“It speaks to the makeup of that team in (the clubhouse),” manager Brian Snitker said. “The resiliency, the fight, the grit, it speaks volumes to that club in there. After what we experienced (Wednesday), to come in here and potentially have your heart ripped out again, and those guys pulled off a win. That just speaks volumes to who that club is.”
They gained a half-game on the idle Phillies, pushing their division lead to 3 ½ games.
Here are three takeaways from the night:
The sky isn’t falling: The Braves lost in inexplicable fashion Wednesday. They proved once again that their knack for bouncing back is real, even if it wasn’t the most idealistic means of winning.
Perhaps the rest of the series doesn’t end well, but the Braves, just a day after blowing a late 7-1 lead, won after what they called their toughest loss of the season. They struck with two runs quickly, built a four-run lead, and let Arizona pull within one twice before eventually tying it.
Snitker was tossed in the sixth for arguing the strike zone. The bullpen looked leaky, but they benefited from a nice day from the offense and a couple Arizona mistakes.
Brad Brach pitched the 10th for the save. It was his fourth appearance since Aug. 31, and Snitker said before the game he’d prefer to stay away from him. A.J. Minter, who threw 36 pitches Wednesday, was completely off-limits.
“I really wanted to stay away from Brad,” Snitker said. “I told him after the game, ‘Dude, I’m not trying to kill you.’ But he’s a pro. He’s a veteran major league reliever. He told me whatever we have to do to win a game, he’s in for it.”
It wasn’t a perfect night, but the Braves held off a quality opponent to win a game on the road. The season is dwindling down, and the only thing that matters is the magic number, which is down to 20.
“The competitive factor, the stubborn factor all comes into play in this game,” shortstop Dansby Swanson said. “Everything doesn’t always go perfect. If it did, then this would be a very predictable game. But it’s not. So to battle back the way we did, and consistently do it time in and time out, shows a lot about these guys. It’s one of my favorite things about us.”
Good offense, good luck: After Wednesday’s disaster, luck swung the Braves’ way. With Ender Inciarte standing at second, Freddie Freeman hit a flyball to left. David Peralta let it slide off his glove, plating Inciarte and putting Freeman in scoring position. Nick Markakis knocked him in for a two-run lead.
Arizona starter Zack Greinke put a slider inside that Kurt Suzuki put into the stands for a 4-0 lead in the fourth. Suzuki has a hit in 14 of his past 16 games with an at-bat, hitting over .350 in that span.
The Braves allowed a three-run fourth that brought back haunting thoughts of Wednesday’s misfortune. But Johan Camargo blasted his 16th homer, a solo shot, for the fifth run. It was Camargo’s 14th homer in 93 games since he was named the regular third baseman.
The Diamondbacks had momentum in the eighth, pulling within 5-4. Freeman and Markakis, the team’s MVPs who’ve struggled lately, came through with back-to-back hits for an insurance run.
But Arizona scored twice in the ninth, including a game-tying solo shot from Paul Goldschmidt when Jesse Biddle hung a curveball over the middle.
The Braves loaded the bases in the 10th, with a wild pitch scoring Swanson and putting the visitors on top. Swanson could’ve scored on Tyler Flowers’ prior single, but he slipped passing third and was forced to retreat back to the base.
“It’s big to start out (the road trip),” Snitker said. “Especially with (Wednesday). I keep harping on it and I won’t after today, but this is a huge win. As bad as yesterday was, this was as good for our club.”
Anibal Sanchez makes his case: Sanchez is competing for a spot in the postseason rotation, where seemingly only Mike Foltynewicz and Kevin Gausman are guarantees. He’s been a coup for the Braves regardless, as arguably their most reliable arm throughout the year.
He outpitched Greinke, posting zeros outside a mistaken fourth. Goldschmidt and Peralta tagged Sanchez with hits before he walked Steven Souza. Ketel Marte popped out in foul ground, with Suzuki making a fabulous grab at the netting behind home plate.
Former Braves farmhand Nick Ahmed delivered with two outs, roping a bases-clearing double down the left-field line to pull Arizona within a run. But Sanchez finished with a perfect fifth before being lifted for pinch-hitter Charlie Culberson.
Sanchez exited after 81 pitches, his fewest since he departed a start in Washington injured on Aug. 9. But he again proved himself a steady hand. He doesn’t have the dynamic arm of Foltynewicz or the enticing ‘stuff’ of Gausman, but he’s fairly cemented in the know-what-to-expect column. With Sean Newcomb faltering, the Julio Teheran pendulum constantly swinging, and the assortment of unknown youth, Sanchez is a calming presence, even on his average days.