Phillies out-execute Braves in a complete team win highlighted by Bryson Stott originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
ATLANTA — The Phillies took their walks, hit with two outs, made a pair of crucial heads-up plays in the field and Taijuan Walker delivered a quality start under difficult circumstances.
Saturday’s much-needed 6-4 win over the Braves was one of the Phils’ most complete nights of the season and it ended with Craig Kimbrel retiring Ronald Acuña Jr. to become the eighth member of the 400-saves club.
A Phillies offense that entered with the fifth-lowest walk rate in the majors walked five times in the first six innings and four of those walks turned into runs. Their first four runs all came with two outs. Nick Castellanos hit a two-run triple in the third inning after Bryson Stott and Trea Turner walked, and Brandon Marsh drove in two with a single in the sixth after Bryce Harper, JT Realmuto and Alec Bohm walked to load the bases. Both knocks gave the Phils a lead.
Stott had a heck of a game. He singled in the first inning with two strikes. He walked, stole and scored in the third inning. He singled to end a seven-pitch at-bat in the seventh, stole and scored again. He walked and swiped a third bag in the eighth.
Stott also prevented a run in the second inning by racing all the way out to middle right field to back up a ball that caromed away from Castellanos after hitting the top of the wall. Stott’s heads-up play kept runners at second and third, and Marcell Ozuna proceeded to run the Braves out of a potentially big inning. The Phillies had the infield back and were conceding a run in a scoreless game. Ozzie Albies grounded a ball to first baseman Bohm, who stepped on the bag and then made a strong throw to third, where Ozuna had not run on contact but for some reason was lingering five feet off the bag. A rundown ensued and Josh Harrison tagged Ozuna out.
It was early, but it was a big moment and perhaps a game-changing play.
Walker pitched better than his line indicated against the National League’s top offense. He struck out just one batter and allowed 10 hits but mixed his pitches, avoided a walk until the fifth inning and did his best work with multiple men on base.
Unlike his starts against Giants, Dodgers, Mariners and Yankees, Walker avoided letting things snowball with runners aboard. The Braves had at least one baserunner in every inning against him and had multiple runners on with fewer than two outs in the second, fourth and seventh innings, yet managed just one run total. Their other two runs off him came around on a Michael Harris II homer in the fifth.
Walker made his longest start as a Phillie, taking down 6⅔ innings. He retired Acuña all four times he faced him, ending his night by popping Acuña up with one out and runners on the corners in the seventh.
The Phillies’ $72 million man has bounced back nicely in his last two starts after failing to finish the first inning in San Francisco on May 17. He has allowed three runs in 12⅓ innings in back-to-back Phillies wins. He began the month with a nightmarish outing at Dodger Stadium, but four of Walker’s last five starts have been good ones, with San Francisco the lone exception.
The Phillies, who entered the night with the worst road record in the National League, are now 10-17 away from home and 24-27 overall. They have Zack Wheeler on the mound Saturday night opposite Charlie Morton and must capitalize because Sunday night pits MLB strikeout leader Spencer Strider against Dylan Covey, who makes his first start as a Phillie.