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San Francisco endures slug fest in Atlanta

The gloves quite literally came off in this one

Joc Pederson finishing his swing as he watches his solo homer sail over the fence in Atlanta Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

After both teams scratched out meager runs in yesterday’s pitching duel, the Atlanta Braves and San Francisco Giants took turns punching each other in the face and burning donuts around the diamond for 9 innings on Tuesday night.

The score was already 7-6 Atlanta after four innings. The runs would keep coming.

Both starters—a young, mustachioed, fastball-throwing-apparently-vegan Spencer Strider and the stoic and shaven Anthony DeSclafani in his first game since April 21st—were pulled early. Neither saw their way through the fourth, nor did they figure in the final results of the see-sawing offensive affair.

All in all, the outing was a mixed bag for DeSclafani—the positives maybe a little more discreet than the negatives. He was done after 3 innings, allowing 5 runs on 6 hits and 3 Ks.

After a clean first inning, Disco took the mound in the 2nd with a 4-run lead and less feel for his pitches. He was inconsistent locating his cutter/slider, digging himself into four 3-ball counts of the six batters he faced that inning. The Braves halved the Giants’ lead with a bloop and blast: a broken bat single by catcher Travis d’Arnaud followed with a first-pitch ambush from DH Marcell Ozuna.

It wouldn’t be the last bloop and blast. It wouldn’t be the last ambush. Atlanta took the lead in the 3rd on a Matt Olson no-doubter with runners at the corners. Single, single, first-pitch dinger.

The power and approach shouldn’t be a surprise. The Braves lead the National League in home runs by a lot. They’re also aggressive at the plate, leading the league again in swing percentage. They’re line-up is there to hack. If you didn’t know it before, you know it now: no lead is safe against them.

Cut to: one inning later.

The Giants have taken the lead with Austin Wynns’s fourth RBI of the game and a sacrifice fly from Luis González that scored and bruised Brandon Crawford. In search of shut-down inning, Zach Littell came up short. He hit Michael Harris II on the foot with two strikes and two outs and Ronald Acuna Jr. took the next pitch into the left field bleachers to regain the lead.

Bloop-and-Blast times 3. The Georgia heat and see-sawing lead-changes have heads spinning. Again, this was only the fourth inning.

Don’t worry more beautiful and infuriating baseball things would come.

Mike Yastrzemski wrenched a bases loaded double into right for two runs. Luis González and third-base coach Mark Halberg were sniffing run number 3 but was thrown out by an effective redirection from shortstop Dansby Swanson.

The play at home wasn’t particularly close, and I’m sure the decision to send the runner splits most camps. Aggressive running forces the other team to make plays—often they come up short. A better chance to score might not present itself. On the other hand, there was only one out, holding him sets up a sac fly situation with two opportunities to drive in runs. The throw from right-fielder Acuna was heading to second base, González has speed—the decision to send him was made in a split-second and on instinct. Who knows if González was willing or able to stop the way he was charging around third.

Those types of plays are the beautiful ones in which baseball flashes its plumage of textures and patterns and shimmering lines.

What isn’t beautiful or thrilling or up for debate in its ugliness is what Austin Wynns and Thairo Estrada did in the 7th, or Dominic Leone in the 8th. Defensive blunders continue to throw winnable games into jeopardy. It happened yesterday and it’s a wonder San Francisco weathered through the extra at-bats they gave Atlanta in tonight’s later innings.

Leone desperately trying to find first base with his cleat to close out the inning was dicey at best, but proved to be inconsequential.

Estrada dropping Evan Longoria’s throw in the 7th led to another Atlanta run, thinning the Giant lead to one again. Acuna scoring from third was set up by a pass ball by Wynns. Both players just took their eyes off the ball, assuming that the act they had committed millions of times before was so guaranteed that it had, in effect, already happened.

Thairo appears to approach the relationship between his glove and bat as transactional. His defense clearly cost them a run in the 7th, so when he was up to bat with the bases loaded in the 9th, he pulled an RBI single into left. It’s infuriating to watch sometimes, but you really can’t argue with the logic.

San Francisco would pretty much need every run they punched across on Tuesday to beat the Atlanta Braves. Wilmer Flores’ 2-run double to regain the Giants initial 4-run lead (so long ago) was challenged by a 2-run homer from Matt Olson in the bottom of the 9th. The blast ended up being a flailing hook that found Camilo Doval’s chin as Atlanta fell to the mat.

Final score: 12-10. Giants win. Everyone is exhausted. And I guess there’s a game tomorrow too…