Atlanta – The Phillies took their walk, hit two runs, made a pair of crucial solo field plays, and Taijuan Walker got off to a good start under difficult conditions.
Saturday’s much-needed 6-4 win over the Braves was one of the Phils’ most complete nights of the season and ended with the retirement of Craig Kimbrel and Ronald Acuña Jr. becoming the eighth player on the club to make 400 saves.
The Phillies offense coming in with the fifth-lowest walk average in the majors walked five times in the first six innings and four of those walks were converted into runs. Their first four runs all came with two outs. Nick Castellanos hit a triple in the third inning after Bryson Stott and Trea Turner walked, and Brandon Marsh drove in two with one out in the sixth after Bryce Harper, JT Realmoto, and Alec Baum walked to load the bases. Both strikes gave Phils the lead.
Stott was a great game. Singled out in the first half with two hits. He walked, stole and scored in the third inning. He singled to end a quiet seven-point kick in the seventh, then stole and scored again. He walked and slammed a third sack in the eighth.
Stott also blocked a run in the second inning by racing all the way to right-middle field to back up a ball that veered away from Castellanos after hitting the top of the wall. Stott’s single kept runners on second and third, and Marcel Ozuna proceeded to oust the Braves from a potential big inning. The Philly team had the ball in the back and were receiving a run in a scoreless game. Ozzie Albis stopped a ball on baseman Boom, who stepped on the sack and then made a hard throw to third, where Ozuna did not run on contact but for some reason slowed five feet from the bag. Havoc ensued and Josh Harrison took out Ozuna.
It was early, but it was a big moment and it was probably a game-changer.
Walker pitched the best of his line indicated against the National League offense. He struck out only one batter and allowed 10 hits but mixed up his pitches, avoided walking until the fifth inning and did his best work with multiple men on base.
Unlike his starts against the Giants, Dodgers, Mariners, and Yankees, Walker avoided letting things fall flat with runners on board. The Braves had at least one baserunner in each inning against him and had multiple runners less than two in the second, fourth, and seventh innings, yet only managed one run. Their second home run came on Michael Harris’s second in the fifth.
Walker made his longest start as a Phillie, striking out 6 home runs. Acuña retired all four times he faced him, and he ended his night by knocking Acuña out with one out from a runner in the seventh corner.
The Phillies’ $72 million man has recovered well in his last two starts after failing to finish the first inning in San Francisco on May 17. He allowed three runs in 12⅓ innings in the Phillies consecutive victory. The month began with a dreadful trip at Dodger Stadium, but four of Walker’s last five starts have been good, with San Francisco the lone exception.
The Phillies, who entered the night with the worst record in the National League, are now 10-17 away from home and 24-27 overall. They have Zach Wheeler on the mound Saturday night versus Charlie Morton and should take advantage because Sunday night pitted MLB strike leader Spencer Stryder against Dylan Coffey, who is making his first start as a Philly.