With the completion of the 2018 Atlanta Braves season, we will look back at the ups and downs of the year.
The 2018 season for the Atlanta Braves was more than any fan could have expected in spring training. Even as the season did not end with a World Series title, returning to the playoffs was a huge step for the organization, and we look forward to the next few seasons with the team!
We will be reviewing each month of the season, looking at the highlights and the lowlights of each month, remembering some of the biggest games of the month as well. Check the links for each month as we progress through the year in our review:
Team record: 17-12
Team slash line: .259/.331/.417/.748
Team home runs: 35
Team ERA: 3.59
Team WHIP: 1.30
Team K/9: 8.2
Biggest game of the month
There are a number of big moments that happened in May. The team was swept by the Giants early in May and responded by winning 5 of the next 6 games, all on the road, and one of them against the probable American League Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell when Sean Newcomb out-dueled Snell 1-0 in Tampa.
It was a game against one of the other top candidates for the American League Cy Young Award this season that ends up taking this spot. The Braves traveled to Philadelphia, and in spite of playing very well against the Phillies throughout 2018, the series from May 21-23 led to a series loss on the road, and the Braves then headed to Boston, where they dropped the first two games with Chris Sale looming for the third game before heading home for a doubleheader against the Mets.
Most importantly, the Atlanta Braves had fallen out of first place by 1/2 game.
The Braves sent Mike Foltynewicz to the hill. At the time, Folty had a 3-3 record on the year, in spite of a solid 2.72 ERA. Sale had been his typical dominant self on the season, with a 5-1 record and 2.17 ERA. Incredibly, he had already struck out 51 over 35 2/3 May innings coming into this start.
The first inning was worrisome for the Braves day. Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna each struck out, and then Freddie Freeman at least worked a full count before he lined out to right. Folty’s first inning was uneventful, well, except for Mitch Moreland, of all people, taking Braves fans’ breath away with a deep blast to the deepest part of the park that Ender hauled in easily, but if Moreland is hitting the ball like that off Folty today…
The second inning began with a long at bat from Nick Markakis. After 8 pitches, he stood on first base with a walk. Kurt Suzuki didn’t wait long in his at-bat, lining a 1-0 pitch between to the left of the second base bag for a single. Then Ender Inciarte was sent up to bunt. He popped up the first pitch, and it was caught by Boston third baseman Rafael Devers.
You could hear the collective groan from the Atlanta area here in the Dakotas. With the 7-8-9 left in the lineup against Chris Sale, this looked like a wasted opportunity, especially when Tyler Flowers looked silly on two pitches, going down 0-2.
Then, it happened.
Folty struck out the side in the 2nd, and Sale responded by striking out Albies and Acuna again before getting Freeman to ground out for a 1-2-3 3rd, though Albies and Acuna did work the count enough to run Sale’s pitch count up to 47 after the 3rd.
The pitchers exchanged zeroes for 3 more half-seasons, with Folty actually carrying a no-hitter through the 4th inning. Sale entered the 5th inning with 62 pitches.
Dansby Swanson drew a 5-pitch walk to open the 5th inning. He advanced to 2nd base on a passed ball, and then on the 7th pitch of his at-bat, Charlie Culberson slapped a single to right field, scoring Swanson on an error by Jackie Bradley, Jr., who was playing right field in the game. Culberson ended up at second on the play.
Ozzie Albies followed with a groundout that moved Culberson to third. Acuna pushed Sale to 8 pitches before drawing a walk. Freeman then laced a double into the right-center gap that scored Culberson and Acuna, and Sale’s day was done.
From there, the Braves coasted to a victory, 7-1. Folty took a no-hitter into the 6th inning, and he finished the day tossing 7 innings, allowing 1 run on 3 hits and 3 walks, striking out 7. Interestingly, only Kurt Suzuki had multiple hits on the day, going 3-5, but only Ozzie Albies failed to reach base, as the Braves collected 9 hits and 6 walks on the day.
The other end of the day was that Ronald Acuna was injured running to first base in the 7th inning. He wasn’t seriously injured, but the way the fan base and the team rallied around Acuna showed exactly the importance that young man had for the team, just one month into his major league team!
Let’s look at the top hitter and top pitcher from the month…