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. Soon 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 thrilling evening that had a significant-game really feel and integrated 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 1 hit and no earned runs more than his subsequent 11.
He was hit challenging on Could two at Dodger Stadium for 4 runs on 4 hits in two-thirds of an inning, then he went six straight outings without having enabling a hit or a run.
He was hit challenging once more on Could 17 in San Francisco, enabling 3 runs on 5 hits. Then he rebounded against the Cubs and Diamondbacks just before providing up 3 a lot more runs on 4 hits in two-thirds of an inning Thursday evening.
“It is been frustrating, it is been a small complicated mainly because I either have seriously excellent outings or seriously terrible outings,” Soto stated by way of 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 maintain functioning challenging.”
The initial meeting of 2023 among the Phillies and Braves integrated 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 proper and began a rally two innings later with a two-out bunt single.
The Phillies hit. They just did not pitch.
“It is often a grind against these guys,” stated Nola, who has created 32 profession begins against the Braves, 4 a lot more than he’s created against any group and 11 a lot more than he’s created against the Marlins, for instance.
Riley, Albies and Ronald Acuña Jr. have all noticed Nola a lot more than they’ve noticed any other significant-league pitcher.
“I’ve faced these guys like 50 instances,” he stated. “They have quite a great deal the very same squad. They’ve got a excellent club. It is not the final time I am going to face them. Throw this 1 behind me and get prepared for New York.”
This is a essential juncture for the 23-27 Phillies. They have nine a lot 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 possible 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 under no circumstances assume as a group that we can not beat these guys,” Harper stated. “They are a excellent group. We’re a excellent group, as nicely. We grinded at-bats seriously nicely. Riley took two excellent swings and that was the distinction nowadays. Not as well shocked at the way each teams bounced back. We’ll see what occurs tomorrow.”