Mike Foltynewicz struck out six of the first seven batters faced, carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning and positioned himself to complete at least seven innings in a third straight start. But instead of carrying a celebratory mood out of Miller Park on Sunday, the Braves hurler was bothered by how he concluded what had the makings to be a dominant performance.
Dansby Swanson’s two-out error in the sixth inning gave Domingo Santana the chance to complete a two-homer game that gave the Brewers all they needed to prevent a three-game sweep with a 4-3 win. But Swanson’s miscue didn’t frustrate Foltynewicz nearly as much as the fact that the quality of his slider decayed as the innings elapsed and ultimately blemished his otherwise impressive outing.
“I think I did OK, but the team gave me the lead twice and I gave it right back up,” Foltynewicz said. “At the end of the day, that’s what happened. I battled to the end. The slider was working in the beginning, but a lot of them were right over the middle of the plate. They were backed up a little, but they just weren’t ready for it. I did fine, but like I said, the team gave me the lead twice and I couldn’t hold onto it.”
Taking this kind of accountability provides further indication of the maturation that has aided Foltynewicz as he has allowed two earned runs or fewer in each of his first four starts. Less prone to allowing adversity to adversely affect his emotions, the 25-year-old right-hander has moved closer toward legitimizing himself as a legit front-line starter with performances like this latest one, in which he allowed four hits and four runs — one earned — over six innings.
“He’s making some huge strides,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “His whole game has been really, really good. He was really on the attack today.”
Foltynewicz featured his curveball as he notched three of his six strikeouts during a 13-pitch, perfect first inning. He leaned more toward the slider as he recorded two more strikeouts during the second inning and entered the third inning having already induced six swing-and-misses. But he induced just three more swing-and-misses over the remainder of his outing, partly because the effectiveness of his slider began to wane in the fourth inning.
After missing the strike zone with two sliders to begin his fifth-inning showdown with Santana, Foltynewicz made a mistake when he tried to beat the Brewers outfielder with three straight heaters. An elevated 2-2 fastball found its way over the center-field fence to end the no-hit bid.
One inning later after Swanson booted Hernan Perez’s two-out grounder, Foltynewicz elevated a first-pitch slider to Santana, who drilled it the other way for a decisive three-run home run.
“There in the sixth it was a little longer of an inning than I had most of the day,” Foltynewicz said. “I think I was just leaving pitches up over the plate and they did what they had to do with them.”