ATLANTA — Gregory Soto got his initial taste of the Phillies-Braves rivalry Thursday evening. It did not go so hot.
The lefty Soto entered a tied game in the bottom of the eighth inning with left-handed-hitting Eddie Rosario and switch-hitting Ozzie Albies due up. Right after starting the frame by striking out pinch-hitter Kevin Pillar, Soto place 5 straight Braves on base — single, double, stroll, two-run single, single — and 3 of them came about to score in an eight-five Phillies loss.
It place a damper on an fascinating evening that had a major-game really feel and incorporated Phillies comebacks to tie or take a lead in 3 separate innings.
Soto’s initial two months in a Phillies uniform have been strange. To say he’s had ups and downs would be placing it lightly.
He could not throw strikes in two of his initial 3 appearances, then permitted a single hit and no earned runs more than his subsequent 11.
He was hit challenging on May perhaps two at Dodger Stadium for 4 runs on 4 hits in two-thirds of an inning, then he went six straight outings devoid of permitting a hit or a run.
He was hit challenging once again on May perhaps 17 in San Francisco, permitting 3 runs on 5 hits. Then he rebounded against the Cubs and Diamondbacks ahead of providing up 3 much more runs on 4 hits in two-thirds of an inning Thursday evening.
“It is been frustrating, it is been a tiny tough for the reason that I either have actually excellent outings or actually poor outings,” Soto stated via Phillies interpreter Diego Ettedgui.
“I like moments like (tonight). I like rivalries like this. I really feel that I am prepared for them. All I can inform you is that I am going to hold operating challenging.”
The initial meeting of 2023 in between the Phillies and Braves incorporated 5 house runs. The only complete innings neither group scored have been the third and the sixth. Austin Riley demolished two of Aaron Nola’s offerings for homers that traveled 458 and 459 feet. Marcell Ozuna also took Nola deep.
But the Phillies came back in the second, fifth and seventh innings to either tie the Braves or take the lead. Alec Bohm launched a two-run shot to center. Bryce Harper homered 445 feet to suitable and began a rally two innings later with a two-out bunt single.
The Phillies hit. They just did not pitch.
“It is generally a grind against these guys,” stated Nola, who has produced 32 profession begins against the Braves, 4 much more than he’s produced against any group and 11 much more than he’s produced against the Marlins, for instance.
Riley, Albies and Ronald Acuña Jr. have all noticed Nola much more than they’ve noticed any other major-league pitcher.
“I’ve faced these guys like 50 instances,” he stated. “They have fairly considerably the exact same squad. They’ve got a excellent club. It is not the final time I am going to face them. Throw this a single behind me and get prepared for New York.”
This is a critical juncture for the 23-27 Phillies. They have nine much more games on their road trip against the Braves, Mets and Nationals. They are currently eight games behind the Braves in the division. They have shown flashes of their prospective but have not played constant baseball in any phase.
The 31-19 Braves have been far superior and have a clear identity as an offensive juggernaut. They lead the National League in slugging, OPS and runs per game.
The Phillies eliminated the Braves from the 2022 playoffs and are 37-37 against them dating back to the finish of 2018, so they know they can stand toe-to-toe with the group that has won 5 straight NL East crowns. But this is a new year. That magic carpet ride from October 2022 is just a memory.
“Coming in right here, we’ll never ever feel as a group that we cannot beat these guys,” Harper stated. “They are a excellent group. We’re a excellent group, as nicely. We grinded at-bats actually nicely. Riley took two excellent swings and that was the distinction right now. Not also shocked at the way each teams bounced back. We’ll see what occurs tomorrow.”