Braves Defeat Tigers 2-1 as Schwellenbach of Saginaw Shuts Them Down

Spencer Schwellenbach was a smooth, hard-hitting shortstop at the University of Nebraska just four years ago. He dominated the Northwoods Summer League in Michigan during the pandemic year, hitting.356 while playing for Traverse City.

But he chose to teach himself how to pitch because he had a lot of free time.

And there he was on Tuesday night, winning his first major-league game in the Atlanta Braves 2-1 victory at Truist Field, while a horde of family and friends cheered him on from his hometown of Saginaw. He threw six stingy innings.

Manager AJ Hinch remarked, “He’s got a lot of pitches and he came right at us.” “We hadn’t seen him before and he did a few things different. He threw his splitter in the strike zone more. Generally, he hadn’t thrown it for a strike. But he was overpowering us with his fastball and cutter.”

In the sixth inning, Schwellenbach’s night took a turn. Riley Greene scored on a single by Gio Urshela after leading off with a triple. Schwellenbach struck out seven while walking two and giving up just one more hit to the Tigers.

He fired five pitches, mostly relying on his cutter, slider, and four-seam fast fastball to accomplish the job. Seven whiffs on 17 swings with his cutter totaled the eighteen whiffs he received.

Tigers 1; Braves 2 in the Box Score

Despite only hitting 14 balls in play and an average exit velocity of 85 mph, the Tigers did not smash many balls off him hard.

Greene remarked, “It’s just part of baseball.” “You’re going to go through these streaks.”

Pierce Johnson, Joe Jimenez, and closer Raisel Iglesias are the three Braves relievers against whom they failed to put a runner in scoring position. All of them were right-handed relievers, thus Andy Ibaññez, one of the Tigers’ greatest weapons off the bench (though less so against right-handers) was not a given.r.

Hinch didn’t even use his bench during the game, which was unusual. There were few advantageous matchups to take advantage of.

“We’re getting guys on base with two outs and it’s hard to create any kind of momentum without an extra hit,” Hinch stated. We walked a couple of times, he hit a couple of batters in a row and that created some space. But the big hit is eluding us.”

The Tigers’ one game in Houston saw them score thirteen runs. They’ve only managed three in the four other games on this 1-4 road trip. This lineup is getting increasingly thin because of the absence of left-handed power batter Kerry Carpenter, who is sidelined indefinitely due to a spinal stress fracture.

Three batters into the game against the Tigers’ starter, the Braves scored their two runs.

“Too many long at-bats, too many three-ball counts and two-strike execution in the first three hitters was the difference in the game,” Mize stated.

Jarred Kelenic hit a two-strike single to start the bottom of the first. After Marcell Ozuna’s sacrifice fly on a 0-2 pitch, Albies scored on a 2-2 triple.

On June 18, 2024, in Atlanta, Georgia, Casey Mize #12 of the Detroit Tigers watches from the dugout during the sixth inning of their game against the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park.

“I tried to elevate a heater to Kelenic there,” Mize stated. “It’s something we’ve been working on. When I’m trying to go up (in the zone) don’t miss too high up to where it’s a waste pitch. I just went in the other direction and put it too much over the plate.”

Albies hit a curveball that was too much plate-caught, and Ozuna similarly mishandled a splitter that was too high.

“Casey did a good job collecting himself and getting back into it,” Hinch stated.

His entire adventure was defined by one at-bat. The second inning saw two runners on and two outs in a 13-pitch brawl with Braves Ozzie Albies.

“That’s as long an at-bat as you’re going to see all year,” Hinch stated. “And Casey won that battle, which was good.”

Albies fouled off seven straight pitches with the runners moving on every pitch and the count full: slider, slider, 98-mph fastball, 97-mph fastball, slider, slider, 97.5-mph fastball. Additionally, it appeared as though he was on every pitch.

Mize remained unwavering. He prevailed in the duel by getting Albies to fly to center on a 98-mph fastball on the thirteenth pitch.

“I was just thinking, ‘Don’t lose it,'” Mize stated. “I threw a couple of splitters early in the at-bat that got away arm side. I was feeling really good with the fastball tonight and I was able to execute the slider. I kind of committed to those two pitches until that at-bat was over. I didn’t want to give in and I didn’t want to walk him.”

“I just kept driving heaters in there”

The work was actual. Mize’s night was done after four innings because the second inning turned out to be a 31-pitch inning. However, the level of competition was unmatched.

Mize declared, “I’m going to compete, no doubt about it.” “But at the end of the day, just too many pitches per inning. It didn’t allow me to go anywhere close to as deep as I want to go. Four innings is not heavily on his slider (30 of them). Only one was put in play. And he only allowed two hits (singles) after the first inning.”

His side was still in the game, behind 2-0, but he was done after 87 throws. And the Tigers bullpen held it there, striking out 12 Braves hitters in a row. Andrew Chafin scored three of the seven consecutive hits that Beau Brieske retired, with Will Vest scoring the final two.

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