By Morris Phillips
SAN FRANCISCO–This time, the weight of a long, draining baseball season fell squarely on the shoulders of the Atlanta Braves.
The Giants–on the strength of a couple of good night’s sleep in their own beds–were poised to take advantage.
Austin Wynns drove in three runs, and Carlos Rodon cruised through five innings before a blister issue forced him from the mound. The Giants have won four of five, following a five-game slide.
“I think we’re more than capable (of being) a winning team,” Rodon said. “Unfortunately, the way it’s gone this year, it’s been up and down for us and we’ve kind of been behind often. But as of late we’ve played really well.”
The Braves looked sluggish facing Rodon and the four relievers that followed, with their top of the order guys–Ronald Acuna Jr. batting leadoff, Darby Swanson, Austin Riley and Matt Olson–all posting 0 for 4 games.
Charlie Morton, the Braves’ starter with a long history of success against the Giants (15 starts, four wins, 2.55 ERA coming in) took the loss, allowing four runs on four hits before he departed in the sixth inning. Morton suffered his first loss since July 27.
The Braves concluded an eight-game, three-city trip (Oakland, Seattle and San Francisco) with a thud. Manager Brian Snitker commented after the game that he felt like his club hadn’t been home in forever. It showed on Wednesday, their fourth loss in five games, and they failed to overtake the Mets for the NL East lead with the loss.
“You’re trying to win every game,” Snitker said. “Every game is big. They all mean a lot now.”
Rodon’s blister issue can’t be taken lightly. So much speculation has been spent on whether the former White Sox pitcher will opt-in to his $22 million option for next year with the Giants, or choose to test the free agent market. Which ever decision he makes, a bunch of money will be involved, and the Giants will want to make their best impression in hopes of keeping him.
“We felt like where we were in the season, it was the right decision to get him out of there,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said. “I don’t anticipate (Rodon missing time) but we’re going to be cautious with Carlos and talk to him tomorrow and see how he’s feeling and go from there.”
“It’s just something I’ve been dealing with all year,” Rodon said. “Whenever I get a lot of pressure on that slider, it just tends to crack and get that blood blister, so just something we’ve got to manage.”
Rodon improved to 13-8 with the win, matching Logan Webb for the team lead in wins.
The Giants open a weekend set with the Dodgers on Friday night. Webb will be matched with Los Angeles’ Dustin May in the opener.