PHILADELPHIA — The Atlanta Braves looked a little patchwork in their second game of the season.
The MLB All-Star Game patch that appeared on the right sleeve of their jerseys Thursday on opening day was sewn over Saturday, when they resumed their three-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The same logo was gone from Atlanta's hats, too.
The uniform change came a day after Major League Baseball announced this summer's Midsummer Classic was being moved out of Atlanta due to MLB's objections to sweeping changes to Georgia voting laws.
It was easy to spot the change on the jersey, with the outline of the patch hastily covered over. The Braves still have a patch on their left sleeves marking the 150th anniversary of the franchise that started in Boston and moved from Milwaukee to Atlanta in 1966.
The MLB All-Star Game had been scheduled for July 13 at Truist Park.
"I'm disappointed that it's not going to be there," Braves manager Brian Snitker said before his team's 4-0 loss to Philadelphia, which also won Thursday's opener 3-2 in 10 innings. "But I'm focused on playing baseball and what we've got going on this season. Other than being disappointed, that's all I have to say on it."
Said Atlanta pitcher Charlie Morton, in his 14th season MLB season: "It's about more than just the guys in the clubhouse. It's about the city of Atlanta, the state of Georgia, the Braves organization, people coming in from all over the country and the businesses in the area seeing a boost.
"I'm disappointed for the Braves organization and those who are local who would have benefited seeing the influx of business and excitement in the area. It's a bad situation. Some of the guys who are likely to be on the team, it would have been nice to represent the team in their home park. People would have been able to see what was done in the ballpark.
"Other than that, I don't know what to say about it. It just stinks."
A new site for the game hasn't been announced.
MLB said the All-Star Game festivities will still feature a planned tribute to the late Hank Aaron, the National Baseball Hall of Famer, former home run king and civil rights hero who died in January at age 86. Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker, who played with Aaron in Atlanta, and several others have suggested the event be held in Milwaukee.
Aaron began his career with the Milwaukee Braves and finished with the Milwaukee Brewers.
"I think Major League Baseball made a good decision," said Brewers manager Craig Counsell, who added he'd like to see the game held in Milwaukee.
"Absolutely. I think it would be a thrill for the city, for sure. It's not a good thing for the city of Atlanta and some people who have lost some economic opportunities, but if it's going to be somewhere else, it would be a thrill for the city to have it here."
Commissioner Rob Manfred made the decision to move the All-Star Game and events, along with the amateur draft, from Atlanta after discussions with individual players and the Players Alliance, an organization of Black players formed after the death of George Floyd in police custody last year.
"This all came together rather quickly," said Chicago Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward, who is Black. "We had, I think, a day left in spring training. The Players Alliance, we gathered and got as many people as we could on a call. It was probably less than 50 guys on there out of the 100 or whatever. We had our conversation.
"We knew how we felt about it. We wanted to make sure, I think, that regardless of what happened, the decision was made, that we were there to do what we could in Atlanta."
Georgia's capital city has hosted the MLB All-Star Game twice — in 1972 at Atlanta Stadium and in 2000 at Turner Field.
Heyward, who grew up in the Atlanta area and was the Braves' first-round draft pick in 2007, said "it was nice to see someone make a move pretty quickly and try to do it in a positive light, knowing it's still a tough decision."
"I think you're not going to be able to please everybody," he added. "I know there's a lot of people in Atlanta that love baseball and were looking forward to see an All-Star Game there. A Midsummer Classic, I think that's special, as somebody growing up there and watching a lot of baseball. But at the same time, I think when you talk about a message, the people are still out here pushing for equality."
Wheeler wallops Braves
Zack Wheeler collected more hits than he allowed Saturday.
That's a good recipe for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Wheeler struck out 10 batters while pitching seven innings of one-hit ball, leading the Phillies to their 4-0 win over the Atlanta Braves.
Wheeler retired his final 17 batters after Travis d'Arnaud singled with one out in the second. He also singled in Jean Segura in the fifth and doubled home Alec Bohm in the sixth.
Wheeler mixed a fastball that reached the high 90s with a sinker that had the Braves off balance. The 10 strikeouts were the most by Wheeler since signing with the Phillies in December 2019.
"When you have everything working — fastball, change, curve, slider — and you are placing it where you want to, it makes things a lot easier," Wheeler said.
Said Braves manager Brian Snitker: "That's as good as I've seen him. That was a rough day trying to hit."
Wheeler's strong start — teamed with Aaron Nola's solid outing in Philadelphia's 3-2 extra-inning victory on opening day — highlights the potential for the top of the Phillies' rotation.
Archie Bradley and Héctor Neris each worked a perfect inning after Wheeler (1-0) departed. It marked back-to-back scoreless outings for Philadelphia's bullpen, which posted a historically inept 7.06 ERA in 2020.
Wheeler put the Phillies ahead to stay with his run-scoring single in the fifth against Charlie Morton (0-1). Andrew McCutchen then walked, and Rhys Hoskins made it 3-0 with a two-run double.
Wheeler is the first Phillies pitcher with multiple hits and RBIs in a game since Ben Lively on Sept. 5, 2017.
Morton allowed six hits, struck out five and walked two in five innings. He permitted each of his three runs in the fifth, a rally that started with a two-out single by Segura and Roman Quinn reaching when he was hit by a pitch.
"That two-strike curveball to Segura wasn't a well-executed pitch, especially to an aggressive hitter," Morton said. "The Wheeler hit, I couldn't believe he got to that. I just have to do a better job on a two-strike count. The guys did a great job behind me, but I kind of squandered it there."