The Braves and Nationals decided to get together for some fun afternoon baseball. If fact, they wanted to have so much fun, they went ahead and committed to playing two games today.
It also did not take long for either team to commit to finding some offense.
The Braves loaded the bases in the top of the first inning, as Ronald Acuna Jr. doubled while Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna walked. Travis d’Arnaud lined a shot into right field for the second out of the inning, making it seem as if another golden opportunity to score runs was about to pass. Fortunately, a passed ball scored Acuna Jr., and the Braves took an early 1-0 lead.
That did not last long.
The Natjonals succeeded early and often against Max Fried in the bottom of the first inning. A single, a home run from that awful Trea Turner, a walk, a double, another single, and a sacrifice fly produced four runs for the Nationals as they made the score 4-1 in their favor after one inning.
That did not last long.
In the top of the second, the Braves finally enjoyed the offensive outburst they have been looking for. Five combined hits, three singles and two doubles, along with a walk resulted in five big runs for the Braves. RBI hits came from Fried, Acuna Jr., and d’Arnaud. The end result was a 6-4 lead for Atlanta.
In the bottom of the second inning, the Nationals went to work again. Turner once again connected on an extra base hit, this time a double. Juan Soto then grounded into a fielder’s choice that hit Fried, who stayed in the game after being examined. Though Turner was thrown out at third, consecutive singles from Ryan Zimmerman and Starlin Castro scored Soto. After two innings, the score was 6-5.
Though the Braves did not make any noise, the big development in the top of the third inning was Johan Camargo pinch hitting for Fried. It seems a mixture of just not having his best stuff as well as a bit of precaution due to being hit in the top of the inning contributed to the decision. It was a less than ideal day for Fried, who over two innings allowed eight hits, five earned runs, a home run, a walk, and three strikeouts. It also was not the best development for a Braves team that was really hoping for a strong outing from Fried.
Fortunately, Atlanta had Josh Tomlin waiting in the wings.
The only action between the third, fourth, and fifth innings between both teams was a single from Acuna Jr. and a walk from Soto. Both teams’ bullpens, including two impressive innings from Tomlin, quickly changed the narrative of the game. Nate Jones supported Tomlin with some strong work in the bottom of the fifth inning.
The Braves were then retired in order in the top of the sixth inning, and A.J. Minter, who had a rough outing yesterday, bounced back with two quick outs in the bottom of the sixth inning. However, Minter would hit Victor Robles, which resulted in Turner stepping to the paint with one on and two outs. Fortunately, Minter was able to find success against Turner this time, as he notched a strike out against Turner to end the inning.
The positive vibes from Minter carried over to the top of the seventh inning. Both Ozzie Albies and Freeman, who each have struggled to start the season, singled to put runners on first and third base with no outs for Marcell Ozuna. Two wild pitches from Wander Suero did Ozuna’s job for him, as despite their left fielder striking out, Atlanta got a big insurance run as Albies scored and Freeman advanced to third with only one out in the inning. Unfortunately, neither d’Arnaud nor Dansby Swanson could result in a Freeman score, and the Braves took a 7-5 lead into the last half inning of the game.
Once again, struggles awaited the Braves and closer Will Smith. A walk to Soto and a double from Starlin Castro made the score 7-6. Luis Garcia then earned a walk as a pinch-hitter, but Smith was able to find the pitch he needed and made Andrew Stevenson ground into a double play to end the game.
Finally, the Braves had earned their first victory of the year.
The aspect of the victory that carried more significance was how the Braves won the game. Five hits, four runs, and two RBIs from Acuna Jr., Albies, and Freeman showed the stars made all the difference offensively while the bullpen delivered five mostly effective innings. On a day that felt like a must-win situation but without their ace having his best stuff, the Braves finally found their winning balance from their bats and bullpen.
Their first win and scoring 12 runs over their past two games will hopefully allow the Braves offense to have a needed boost as they head into the second game against Stephen Strasburg, While another win would be great, this should already be considered a successful day.