ATLANTA — If you would only have listened to Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker’s observations regarding the major league debut of pitcher Lucas Sims on Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers, you might have sworn that the Snellville, Ga., native had won.
Instead, the Braves lost 3-2.
“Very impressed,” Snitker said. “He’s cleaned his delivery up since last year. For a first major league start he held himself together. I liked everything I saw.”
Sims was similarly happy except for something a lot of opposing pitchers say these days about the Dodgers, who have won 20 of their last 22 games, their only two defeats oddly coming against a Braves squad that has lost nine of its last 10.
“Definitely a day I’ll never forget,” said the 23-year-old, who gave up six hits and all three runs but no walks. “Enjoyed putting on the uniform for the first time. Tried to trust my stuff. Would have liked to have a couple of pitches back, though.
Indeed, other than a run-scoring double by Chris Taylor in the third inning and a home run by Cody Bellinger in the fourth — Bellinger’s 29th of the season — Sims pitched well enough to win.
Then again, in improving to a major-league-best 75-31, the Dodgers have a lot of opposing pitchers wishing they could have a couple of pitches back.
Yet the Dodgers surely wondered about a pitch their reliever Josh Ravin threw to Braves rookie shortstop Johan Camargo in the eighth. That pitch became a two-run homer to pull Atlanta within 3-2 and briefly bring joy to the 32,174 fans who’d come to SunTrust Park on a school night for some in the greater Atlanta area.
“It’s exciting for all of us to see our young guys out there,” said Snitker, who quickly added, “And one of our young guys got us back in it.”
Alas, one of the Dodgers’ toughest veterans — closer Kenley Jansen — made sure Atlanta wouldn’t get over the hump in the bottom of the ninth, swiftly striking out the side.
But against a L.A. team that has the best earned run average in the majors at 3.09, Camargo’s homer did give at least some credence to Dodgers pitching coach and Chattanooga native Rick Honeycutt’s pregame assessment that his first visit to SunTrust made him think, “We’re back to the Launching Pad.” That was a favorite nickname for old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, which long was considered a hitter’s park.
Still, the Braves’ slide continuing, Snitker said of the games to come, beginning with tonight’s 7:35 start against the Dodgers: “Just keep grinding. It’ll turn eventually.”
If nothing else, they won’t see the Dodgers anymore after Thursday.
Contact Mark Wiedmer at [email protected].