It wasn’t simply the best start of his career: Spencer Strider just tossed one of the best pitching performances in Atlanta Braves history.
#Rockies Update:— Patrick Lyons (@PatrickDLyons) September 2, 2022
Spencer Strider has struck out 16. That’s the most in Atlanta’s franchise history since 1900 for a starter going eight innings. Dang.
Strider has made 30 MLB appearances in his two-year career. Never has he completed seven innings; he finished eight tonight. Never has he struck out more than 13; he had 16 this evening against the Rockies.
26 batters stepped to the plate in the first four innings, just two more than the minimum 24. It gave us a good old-fashioned see saw on the win probability chart, but Atlanta’s Austin Riley was the first to tip the scale with a solo home run in the fourth.
A leadoff single by C.J. Cron would provide some life in the next half-inning, but a strikeout-heavy fifth inning would end the threat for the Braves.
The scale would tip further from there. Colorado starter Chad Kuhl had a tough end to his night, and in his second start off the injured list, his season ERA remains north of five.
Strider’s final line: 8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 16 K
If not for Cron’s leadoff single in the fifth inning, Strider would have taken a perfect game into the eighth.
One runner advanced past first base for the Rockies tonight, coming in Strider’s fatigued final inning. A one-out double by Michael Toglia (stay hot, young man) placed a runner in scoring position.
A ground-ball error would advance him to third base, but Strider’s 15th and 16th strikeouts would immediately follow, putting a stamp on a near-flawless showing.
Is Spencer Strider’s four-seamer the best pitch in baseball?— Nick Pollack (@PitcherList) September 2, 2022
Strider struck out at least two hitters in six of his eight innings.
Chad Kuhl’s final line: 4 2⁄3 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 7 K
Atlanta’s offensive performance in the first three innings was limited to a two-out single by Austin Riley in the first inning. Rockies starter Chad Kuhl was otherwise perfect through 3 1⁄3 innings, but the Braves would then find themselves on the board with Riley’s fourth-inning homer.
(For the first four innings, sans Riley, it was an exceptional pitching performance by Kuhl.)
The fifth inning would immediately open with a home run by Atlanta’s Michael Harris II, and a single to follow by Vaughn Grissom was another early threat for a long fifth inning. Kuhl quickly worked two flyouts from there, but a two-out walk to Ronald Acuña Jr. would set the table for a Dansby Swanson RBI single to follow. Kuhl would then exit the game with three runs allowed, one out shy of five innings, leaving runners on the corners for the Rockies bullpen.
He did collect seven strikeouts against a tough-hitting playoff contender. Hard-hit baseballs were costly, but Kuhl’s night was optimistic when he was ahead in counts.
Colorado bullpen tosses 3 1⁄3 scoreless frames
The Rockies’ clear bright spot in this contest was the effort of relief pitchers — and it wasn’t the usual suspects of Carlos Estévez and Daniel Bard posting zeros today.
Justin Lawrence, Dinelson Lamet and Chad Smith combined to sit down all 10 batters they faced. Each of them collected two strikeouts, giving the Rockies a combined total of 13 K’s in eight innings on the mound.
With seven by Kuhl and 16 by Strider, this game saw a combined 29 strikeouts.
Rockies tame top Atlanta hitters
Without Austin Riley and his 2-for-4 showing, the Braves collected three total hits.
A 0-for-4 showing by leadoff hitter Ronald Acuña Jr., and a 0-for-3, three strikeout evening by four-hitter Matt Olson stood as one source of optimism for the Rockies in a pitching-heavy contest.
Jansen collects save number 31
Colorado’s top of the order stepped to the plate in the ninth inning against old divisional foe Kenley Jansen. Three consecutive flyouts were more uplifting than the strikeout parade put on by Strider, but the Rockies otherwise went quietly into the night, capping off a night of little offensive production.
The Rockies are narrow betting favorites against the Cincinnati Reds in Friday’s series opener. Kyle Freeland will look to chip away at a 4.88 ERA with Cincinnati’s Luis Cessa (5.36) making his 40th appearance of the season. Both teams will open the three-game set at 4:40 p.m. MDT