Braves Advance to NLCS!

Wow. What a series against the Milwaukee Brewers and the Atlanta Braves!! This series was nothing short of amazing. Pitching was great from both teams, offense was hard to come by for the first three games, and then in game four, the Braves won the series and have advanced. And what’s a better way to do it than at your home park with your fans cheering you on??

NLDS Game One: Charlie Morton vs. Corbin Burnes, Braves lost 2-1

This game was a serious pitching duel. In fact, this whole series was a low scoring, pitchers duel. Charlie Morton pitched phenomenal for the Braves. Morton pitched six innings, allowed three hits, gave up two hits, had nine strikeouts and only one walk. He pitched into the seventh inning, and that is where he gave up the two runs that the Brewers scored. They came on a two-run homer by Rowdy Tellez to give them a 2-0 lead. Those two runs were enough to allow Milwaukee to win.

Atlanta got one run on the board in the top of the eighth inning. Joc Pederson came on to pinch-hit. He hit a solo home run to left-center, to make it a 2-1 game. However, that was the only run that the Braves could produce and the Brewers took game one.

Now, the Atlanta Braves had a chance to score in the top of the first inning. They had runners on first and third with no outs. Ozzie Albies was up to bat, and he hit into an unfortunate double play. Brewers first baseman Rowdy Tellez (who later hit the game winning home run) caught a sinking line drive up the foul line to rob Ozzie of at least a single, and then completed the double play with a strong throw to home plate to get Jorge Soler out.

That double play set the tone of the whole game. Both teams knew runs were going to be hard to come by, and that missed run scoring opportunity for Atlanta came back to haunt them when they only lost by one run.

Game Two: Max Fried vs. Brandon Woodruff, Braves won 3-0

With Max Fried on the mound for Atlanta, you are pretty much guaranteed for a good, strong outing. He did not disappoint. Fried pitched six scoreless innings, allowed three hits, zero walks, and struck out nine. Fried only had 81 pitches through his six innings, I was surprised that Brian Snitker did not bring him back out for the seventh inning. But everything worked out in the end.

The Braves came up with a total of three runs. In the top of the third inning, Jorge Soler reached base with a double. Freddie Freeman scored Soler with an RBI single to make it 1-0. To make it a 2-0 lead, Ozzie Albies hit a booming double off the top of right field wall. Getting a good read off the ball, Freeman scored easily. What turned out to be a double, was almost a home run. Albies’ double hit right off the top of the yellow line. But it went back into the field of play, therefore it was not a home run.

In the top of the sixth inning, Austin Riley hit a towering solo home run to make it a 3-0 game. He sent that baseball a long way into straight away center field. That man has some power!

Atlanta’s bullpen was lights out for the rest of the game and backed up Fried’s great outing. This win for the Braves tied the series 1-1.

Game Three: Ian Anderson vs. Freddy Peralta, Braves won 3-0

Ian Anderson took the mound for Atlanta in this game. He pitched five innings, allowed three hits, zero runs, zero walks, and he had six strikeouts. Anderson had a good outing, and he is proving time and time again what a good pitcher he his. Ian could have gone another inning, but he had 84 pitches and, like with Fried, Brian Snitker played it safe and only let him go five innings. And, he gave us a quality start — in a game like this one, that was all that mattered.

Like in game one, the Braves had a good chance of scoring early. In the bottom of the second inning, the Braves had runners on first and second with one out. Austin Riley was on third and Adam Duvall was the runner on first. Travis d’Arnaud was up to bat and he flew out to left field. His fly out was plenty deep enough to score Riley from third so he tagged up. Riley was halfway down the third base line when Duvall decided (on his own) to try and advance to second. Brewers’ left fielder, Christian Yelich saw what Duvall was trying to do, threw to second base, and got Adam Duvall out. That was a huge blow to Atlanta early and it shifted the mood of the game.

Like Atlanta, the Brewers had chances to score but couldn’t pull the trigger. In the top of the fifth inning, Milwaukee had second and third and no one out. They got into a run down between third and home, and then couldn’t come up with any way to score.

Joc Pederson came on to pinch hit for Ian Anderson in the bottom of the fifth. With no one out, Dansby Swanson and Travis d’Arnaud were on base. After a questionable strike two call to give Pederson a 1-2 count, Joc hit an elevated fastball and it left the ballpark in a hurry. His three-run homer went into the Chop House and gave Atlanta a huge 3-0 lead.

Those three runs from Pederson’s home run were all that the Braves’ pitching staff needed. The bullpen was lights out and preserved a 3-0 lead. That gave Atlanta a 2-1 lead in the series.

Game Four: Charlie Morton vs. Erik Lauer, Braves won 5-4

This game was awesome. It was a rollercoaster, though. Scoring was ALL over the place. At some points int the game, when things started looking good for the Braves, the Brewers would come back and take the lead. However, in the end, it was our Atlanta Braves who held on and won, advancing to the NLCS.

Charlie Morton started this game for Atlanta. With him starting on only three days rest, we knew he wasn’t going to go more than five innings. Morton went 3.1 innings, allowed four hits, two runs, one walk, and had five strikeouts. Coming into this, we knew that Charlie was not going to have his best stuff coming off of only three days rest, and there was the chance that Milwaukee’s hitters would see his pitches better since they saw him just three days before. All of this coming into play, Morton did not do a bad job at all, he kept the scoring low, and kept his team in this game.

Coming into the bottom of the fourth inning, the Braves were down 2-0. The Brewers had scored two off of Charlie Morton via two RBI singles. Atlanta, however, did not let that hinder their determination. To lead off the bottom of the fourth inning, Austin Riley had a single. Adam Duvall and Joc Pederson followed him with pop-outs to make two quick outs. Travis d’Arnaud kept the inning alive with a walk, and then Guillermo Heredia was hit by a pitch to load the bases. In this situation, the Braves had a great chance to score…it was just a matter of being able to do it. And they did just that! Eddie Rosario was up to bat. After getting two quick strikes, Rosario hit a line drive single into center field that allowed two runners to score, and tied the game 2-2.

Huascar Ynoa came onto pitch the fifth inning for Atlanta. He started the inning with a single to Christian Yelich, and got a strikeout to make the first out of the inning. Then, he gave up a mammoth two-run home run to Rowdy Tellez, giving the Brewers are 4-2 lead. That home run changed the ENTIRE atmosphere of the ballpark quick. The fans went from being excited because the game was tied, to dead silent because their team was all of a sudden losing again.

Down 2-0 the Braves had to come up with some offense. To start off the bottom of the fifth inning, Freddie Freeman struck out. Ozzie Albies reached base after him on a infield single. Austin Riley walked and then, Adam Duvall was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Joc Pederson grounded into an RBI forceout that allowed Ozzie to score from third, making it a 4-3 game. And then, to tie the game, Travis d’Arnaud had an RBI single that scored Austin Riley and made it a 4-4 game. Once again, the Braves’ fans had something to cheer about!

With the game still tied in the eighth inning, the Milwaukee Brewers decided to bring on their closer Josh Hader. Hader is normally the Brewers closer. I’m not entirely sure why they brought him on to pitch the eighth instead of the ninth inning, but I’m not complaining! 😉 After Hader got two quick outs of Eddie Rosario and Dansby Swanson, Freddie Freeman was up to bat. Freddie wasted no time. On the very first pitch he saw, Freddie hit a solo home run to center field giving the Braves a 5-4 lead.

Immediately after that home run was hit, the entire vibe of the ballpark shifted. The fans were louder than ever, Atlanta’s dugout was ecstatic, and Freddie Freeman, who normally doesn’t show much emotion, was shouting with all of them. His home run was just enough for the Atlanta Braves’ closer, Will Smith, to get the last three outs of the game, record the win, and send the Braves to the NLCS!

This series was nothing short of what you would want a postseason series to be like. It was entertaining, stressful, and for the most part, well played. So many things took place to make the Braves win the series, but these are the top three things for me:

  • Pitching:

Not only was the starting pitching in this series great for Atlanta…but so was the bullpen. The Braves’ bullpen throughout this entire series was lights out. Yes, the relievers would give up a hit here and there, but they did not allow a SINGLE Brewers runner to score. Now that is impressive!

  • Joc Pederson’s game three home run:

Joc Pederson is one cool player. Not only is he rocking his pearl necklace, but he can hit. In pinch-hitting appearances for the Atlanta Braves in this series, Joc was 3-3. Plus, two of those hits were home runs…one of which won game three for the Braves. That is crazy! Having the kind of depth that Pederson has shown he can bring off the bench is huge for Atlanta. Not only is it important in the regular season to have a good pinch-hitter, it is even more important in a postseason game, when at any point you could face elimination.

  • Freddie Freeman’s Home Run:

Obviously this was a huge moment in this series. Coming into a tied ballgame, against one of the best closers in baseball, and hitting the game winning home run is definitely a huge moment. Freddie Freeman’s home run against Josh Hader just continues to prove the resilience of the Braves’ team. After they lost Acuña, got the news that Soroka wasn’t going to be able to pitch this year, and losing Marcell Ozuna to legal matters…things did not look good for Atlanta. But did they give up? Absolutely not! They played even better, harder baseball and you could tell there was a purpose behind it. And it took the WHOLE team to do it. Not just two or three players, no. Every single player on the Atlanta Braves’ roster came through in some way or another, and they couldn’t be here with ought them.

And now, they are going into the NLCS with their heads held high and their eyes on the prize. That prize being a 2021 World Series title.

Go Braves!

The Atlanta Braves Clinch the NL East For the FOURTH Year in a Row!!

Wow! What a series this was, and what a season this has been for our Atlanta Braves. So many things led up to this fourth annual Division Title. And I feel this was the most rewarding of them all.

When the Braves lost Ronald Acuña Jr. on July 11 with a torn ACL, so many people gave up hope on Atlanta saying, “How can we win without Acuña?”. Let me tell you…my faith in what these Atlanta Braves can do did not waver one bit. If anything, I felt that since so many people gave up on the Braves, that they would be even better and knock everyone’s socks off with how good they could be. Atlanta definitely proved every single one of those doubters wrong! 🙂

When you think about how the Braves got to this clinch there are so many things that come to mind. But I firmly believe the most significant of those is all the trade deadline deals made by Alex Anthpoulos, the Atlanta Braves general manager. He went out and got Joc Pederson, Adam Duvall, Jorge Soler, Richard Rodriguez, Stephen Vogt, and Eddie Rosario. Joc Pederson came earlier in the season, but he has still played a big part in this comeback season for Atlanta.

After the deadline and the new players started playing for the Braves, it was like things just started to click. In August, Atlanta won nine games in a row and didn’t look back. In those nine games, the Braves went from being in fourth place in the NL East standings, to being in first place. That is HUGE!

Once the Braves got to first place, it still wasn’t easy. The Mets had gone on a losing streak, but the Philadelphia Phillies had gotten hot fast and were in second place in the division and kept the race interesting. I think it made their clinch even better for it to be against the Phillies – their biggest rivals. For the Atlanta Braves to have gone through everything that they went through, to fight their way back into the division race and maintain first place, this was a very memorable game and season for the Braves.

I can’t wait to see what the Postseason has in store for them!!

Braves vs. Yankees

All good things must come to an end. Coming into this series, the Atlanta Braves had won nine games in a row. The New York Yankees had also won nine in a row. Both teams were red-hot. One of these teams’ win-streak was going to end. Unfortunately it was the Braves’ that ended. Their streak was snapped, and they ended up getting swept in a two-game-set.

Game One: Huascar Ynoa vs. Jordan Montgomery, Braves lost 5-1

Huascar Ynoa made his second start for the Braves in this game since his long-awaited return from the IL. He pitched six innings, allowed four hits, three runs, only one walk, and he had nine strikeouts. Ynoa’s outing was not bad – Giancarlo Stanton was just all over him. All three runs that Huascar allowed, were by Stanton. The first run was a solo home run that he hit in the top of the first inning to give the Yanks a 1-0 lead.

In the bottom of the second inning, the Braves tied the game. Dansby Swanson hit a solo home run into center field to make it a 1-1 game. It was a first pitch bomb, and Swanson got Atlanta right back in this game.

In the top of the sixth inning, Giancarlo Stanton broke the tie. He hit a two-RBI double that made it a 3-1 game. A 3-1 game is still manageable.

However, in the top of the eighth inning, the Yankees added onto their lead. Edgar Santana came onto pitch for the Braves. He got the first two outs via a groundout. Then he gave up a single to Aaron Judge and a full-count walk to Joey Gallo. Santana had a balk which advanced the runners to second and third. I think the balk shook Edgar up, because he walked the next batter to load the bases. Seeing that Santana was shaken up, Brian Snitker brought Jesse Chavez in to pitch. Chavez surrendered a two-run double that made it a 5-1 game.

Atlanta’s offense wasn’t able to produce any more run support other than Swanson’s solo shot back in the second inning.

Game Two: Charlie Morton vs. Andrew Heaney, Braves lost 5-4

Whew. What a suspenseful game! It was a great, exciting game to watch – it just would’ve been better if the Atlanta Braves could have pulled out a comeback win.

Charlie Morton pitched decent for the Braves. It wasn’t as good of a start as we’re used to from him, but it wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been. He pitched five innings, allowed six hits, four runs, had zero walks, and nine strikeouts. So he had his good stuff, the Yankees were just able to get hits and score runs off of him.

Atlanta started the scoring. In the bottom of the first inning, with two outs, Freddie Freeman reached base on a walk and Austin Riley reached base when he was hit by a pitch. Dansby Swanson scored both Freeman and Riley with a booming two-RBI double into center field. His hit gave the Braves a 2-0 lead.

The Yankees got on the board in the top of the second inning. Giancarlo Stanton hit a line-drive, solo home run into center field. That made it a 2-1 game, Atlanta still on top. New York tied the game on an RBI single the top of the fourth that scored Aaron Judge, making it a 2-2 game.

The Yankees broke the 2-2 tie in the top of the fifth inning. DJ LeMahieu hit a two-run homer to make it a 4-2 game.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Braves sparked an offensive rally. After Abraham Almonte struck out to start the inning, Ozzie Albies hit a first-pitch single to reach base. Jorge Soler walked to advance Ozzie to second. Freddie Freeman grounded into a force out which advanced Ozzie to third, but got Soler out at second. Austin Riley hit a single that scored Ozzie from third. Freddie Freeman tried to score on the play, too, but he was called out. The Braves coaching staff challenged the play and Freddie looked safe, but the umpires did not see any “clear and convincing” evidence so Freeman was called out. Even though he didn’t score, Ozzie did and made it a 4-3 game.

The Yankees added on what turned out to be their insurance run in the top of the seventh inning. It came on a solo home run by Rougned Odor. His home run made it a 5-3 game.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, things got really interesting really fast. The New York Yankees ace Aroldis Chapman was on the mound. He got Travis d’Arnaud to groundout for the first out. Then on the first pitch he saw, Adam Duvall wasted no time and hit a single! Guillermo Heredia struck out to make out number two. Then, with two outs, Chapman did something he almost NEVER does. He walked pinch-hitter Ehire Adrianza on four straight pitches. So with two on and two out, it was all up to my man Ozzie Albies. Ozzie worked a 3-2 count, and on the seventh pitch of his at-bat, he hit a ground ball to third base. Now Ozzie isn’t a slow dude, so the Yanks third baseman had to hurry. He fielded the ball and threw it to first as quickly as he could. Ozzie was…SAFE!! Ozzie beat out the baseball and had an infield single to load the bases. And then, Aroldis Chapman had a full-count, bases loaded walk that scored Adam Duvall. That made it a 5-4 game.

The Braves did something few teams can do…they got to Chapman and scored off of him. He was sweating SO much his hat was soaked and the sweat was dripping down the front of it like a waterfall. Aroldis Chapman is arguably the best closer in baseball, but the Braves took full advantage of him.

The Yankees went deeper into their bullpen and brought Wandy Peralta on to try and close out the game. He didn’t have an easy task. He had to face Freddie Freeman with the bases loaded! However, he did his job. He got Freddie Freeman to fly out just shy of the warning track to end the game. Even though the Braves didn’t win, they sure gave all of Braves country a finish…and every Yankees fan a big scare!

We all knew that at some point the Atlanta Braves were going to get beaten and get their streak snapped. It just so happened that the New York Yankees were the team to do it. Hopefully, with the Braves’ important stretch of games coming up, they can bring their offense AND pitching back to their A+ stuff.

Braves vs. Marlins Series Wrap

Woohoo, another sweep! The Braves are on a roll. Yes, they have been playing some “easier” teams, but they are winning nonetheless, and that it what’s important this time of year.

Game One: Touki Toussaint vs. Braxton Garrett, Braves won 12-2

This was another offensive outburst for the Atlanta Braves. They scored seven of their runs in the fourth inning.

Touki Toussaint pitched very well. He went 6.1 innings and allowed three hits, two runs, two walks, and he had seven strikeouts. He never really got into any trouble over his 6 plus innings. Brian Snitker took Touki out of the game after he gave up a walk in the top of the seventh. I feel like, with the huge lead the Braves had, Snitker could’ve/should’ve let Toussaint continue, but that didn’t happen.

The Braves started this game with a very good chance to score. Ozzie Albies, Jorge Soler, and Freddie Freeman all reached base with walks. To make the first out, Austin Riley struck out, and then Dansby Swanson had an RBI force-out that scored Ozzie and made it a 1-0 Braves lead.

However, that 1-0 lead did not last long. On the first pitch Touki Toussaint threw, Jazz Chisholm Jr. hit a solo home run, making it a 1-1 game. Miami took the lead in the bottom of the second inning when Isan Diaz hit a solo home run making it 2-1.

Atlanta didn’t allow the Marlins’ lead to last very long. In the top of the fourth inning, Guillermo Heredia and Toussaint reached base on walks. After the Marlins’ starting pitcher walked Touki, they went to their bullpen. That didn’t do them much good. My man, Ozzie made it a 2-2 game. He hit an RBI single that scored Heredia. Jorge Soler struck out making the first out of the inning. Freeman hit a three-run bomb. That broke the scoreless tie, making it a 5-2 game with the Braves on top. To keep the inning alive, Austin Riley had a double. Swanson scored him with an RBI single making it 6-2. Dansby advanced to second base on a passed ball. And then, to add the final blow of the inning, Adam Duvall hit an absolute laser shot to left field. It went SO FAR that it dented the windows at the back of left field. If the windows were open that ball would’ve left the ballpark…and who knows where it would have landed! His home run made it an 8-2 game.

In the top of sixth inning, the Braves once again added onto their lead. Duvall started the inning with a one-pitch flyout to make out number one. Travis d’Arnaud and Hereida reached base via walks. Toussaint did his job and got a sac bunt down to advanced both runners. Ozzie was up to bat. He hit a two-RBI single, making it a 10-2 game. And then, to score the final two runs of the game, Travis d’Arnaud hit a two-RBI double in the top of the seventh inning. That made it a 12-2 game.

The Braves were given a total of eleven bases on balls in this game. They took advantage of all of them…and it paid off!

Game Two: Huascar Ynoa vs. Sandy Alcantara, Braves won 2-0

Welcome back Huascar Ynoa! This was his first start in a major league game since May 31st when he broke his right hand – his pitching hand – punching the dugout bench. Huascar pitched 5.1 innings. He allowed only three hits, ZERO runs, one walk, and he had four strikeouts. Overall it was a great first outing for him coming off the injured list!

This was a pitchers’ duel. There was hardly any contact…and the Braves didn’t score their first run until the eighth inning.

In the top of the eighth inning, Stephen Vogt led off with a strikeout. Abraham Almonte walked, and then Ozzie struck out to make the second out of the inning, and Almonte stole second. He then advanced to third on a passed ball. So with a runner on third and two outs, Soler was up to bat. He hit an RBI single that got the Braves on the board, making it a 1-0 game.

Atlanta needed a little more “cushion” with their lead, and Austin Riley provided that. In the top of the ninth inning he hit a towering solo shot to make it a 2-0 game.

Will Smith came on to preserve the save. He actually did his job this time, and had a 1-2-3 shutdown inning. That allowed the Braves to win the game!

Game Three: Charlie Morton vs. JesĂșs Luzardo, Braves won 11-9

Charlie Morton pitched well for Atlanta once again. He went six innings, allowed three hits, two runs, only one walk, and struck out nine Miami batters. His command was good, and he was able to limit the Marlins to only two runs, and was able to keep them from any further damage.

Coming into the fourth inning, it was a scoreless tie. However, the Braves put an end to that! Freddie Freeman led of the inning with a triple. On the next pitch, Austin Riley had an RBI single that made it a 1-0 game. Dansby Swanson followed Riley with a single. With two on and no one out, Travis d’Arnaud walked to load the bases. Adam Duvall walked with the bases loaded, making it a 2-0 game. Guillermo Hereida also walked with the bases loaded, making it a 3-0 game. To make the first out, Charlie Morton struck out. My man, Ozzie Albies hit a sac fly to make the Braves lead 4-0. His sac fly made the second out, and then Jorge Soler had a strikeout to end the inning.

In the top of the fifth inning, Adam Duvall had an RBI double that scored Freeman, who reached base earlier that inning on a single. That made it a 5-0 game.

The Marlins got on the board in the bottom of the fifth inning. They scored two runs making it a 5-2 game.

To add onto our lead, Freddie Freeman hit a two-run home run for the Braves making it a 7-2 game in the top of the sixth. Wait, hold up. Freeman had a double in the first inning, a triple, a single, and now a home run… ahhh it’s a cycle! Freddie Freeman hit the second cycle of his Braves career. Woohoo!

Brian Anderson made it a 7-3 game in the bottom of the seventh with an RBI groundout.

Top of the eighth inning: Ozzie Albies led off the inning with a four-pitch walk. He stole second base, and then Ozzie advanced to third on a fly out by Jorge Soler. His fly out made the first out of the inning. Freeman was intentionally walked, and then Austin Riley hit a first-pitch RBI single. His single scored Ozzie and made it a 8-3 game. Dansby Swanson then walked and loaded the bases. Travis d’Arnaud and Adam Duvall both walked with the bases loaded to make it a 10-3 game. Heredia popped out to make the second out, and then Joc Pederson also walked with the bases loaded to score the final Atlanta run, making it an 11-3 game.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, the Marlins made this game too close for comfort. A.J. Minter started the inning for Atlanta. He gave up a double to the first batter he saw, and a single to the second one he faced. Bryan De La Cruz hit a sac fly to make it an 11-4 game. The Braves conceded the run for an out. Miguel Rojas grounded out to make out number two. Jazz Chisholm had an RBI single to made it an 11-5 game. Jesus Aguilar hit a two-RBI single to make it an 11-7 game. Will Smith came on in relief of not only Minter, but also Josh Tomlin. Josh came on in relief of A.J. but he couldn’t get more than one out. Jesus Sanchez hit a two run homer to make it a 11-9 game off of Smith, but he was able to limit anymore damage and sent the Braves off happy.

This was an eventful series for the Atlanta Braves. They had some huge hits and are getting back to 100%. With Ynoa and Travis back now, and Ian Anderson nearing his return, the Braves are looking even better to secure a spot in the postseason.

A Wrap of the Braves First Half of the Season

To say the least, it was a chaotic, unstable, and disappointing first half for the Atlanta Braves. They did not end the first half of the season with a winning record, let alone a .500 record. They entered the All-Star break with a losing record of 44-45.

Inconsistency was a big factor in that. Their pitching was all over the place – especially the bullpen. In their starting rotation, Charlie Morton was the only reliable one. And that is still somewhat true coming into this second half of the season. Drew Smyly has gotten more consistent, as well as Max Fried and Ian Anderson. But Atlanta’s bullpen was, and is, the main problem. Their bullpen couldn’t keep a Braves’ lead in a tight scoring game or keep the run differential close in a situation where the Braves were losing. Another problem that their pitching staff has is that they walk WAY too many batters. It seems almost every time pitchers walk a guy, they come back and score. Walks will always come back to haunt a pitcher. They’ve also had some closer problems: AJ Minter and Will Smith. They come on to pitch in the ninth inning, and it seems like they try to find a way to blow the game. They walk batters, give up home runs, allow hits and runs galore. This season they have given up almost 30 hits, 30 runs, and over 20 walks. They doesn’t pitch every single day, but those aren’t the numbers you want to see from your closers.

The Braves have also been tortured with injuries. The most significant of those would be the most recent: Ronald Acuña Jr. is out of the rest of the season. And, of course, his season-ending injury came against the Miami Marlins. In game two of the most recent series played with Miami (July 10th), Acuña was trying to field a well-hit ball at the warning track in right field. He ran full speed towards the baseball in mid-air and missed. He then fell and put all of his body weight on his right knee, which buckled under all the pressure. He then collapsed, and after being carted off the field, he was examined and he’d torn his right ACL. He had to have immediate surgery, and he will miss the rest of the 2021 season.

Atlanta will now have to finish their 2021 season without their young superstar. Obviously things will be different offensively and defensively, but I don’t think this takes them out of postseason chances. The Braves will just have to work harder and play a better. And if they do make it to the postseason, it will prove just how good this Atlanta Braves team really is.

Another injury- which turned into a shocking blow, came in the month of May. This came from Marcell Ozuna. On May 26th, against the Boston Red Sox, Ozuna fractured two fingers sliding into third base. He was sent to Atlanta for examination and treatment. Three days later, on May 29th an article was released that he had been arrested for domestic family violence. That was certainly a shocking and unexpected blow for the Braves. Not only is he hurt and won’t be able to play this season… but he was arrested, and got out of jail not too long ago. So he is definitely done for this season, if not for the rest of his career.

The Braves also lost Travis d’Arnaud to a torn left thumb ligament. He tore it on May 1st and has been on the injured list since. Hopefully he can come back in mid-August. He is such a good player, and it’s a shame for him to not be able to play.

The final injury that I’m going to discuss is that of Huascar Ynoa. Ynoa had pitched some with the Braves in relief during the 2019 and 2020 seasons, but his career as a starting pitcher really began this season. And boy, was he impressive! In fact, he was probably the best pitcher Atlanta had AND he could hit. In seventeen at-bats, he had six hits, and two home runs – one of witch was a grand slam. A GRAND SLAM!! He was beyond impressive at the plate and on the mound.

However, after a frustrating start on the mound for Huascar, he went into the Braves dugout and punched the bench. Nothing was said of it during the game in mid-May. But after his hand was evaluated, he had broken it. So disappointing. He was such an impressive young player and had (hopefully still has) such a great career ahead of him. He was, is, and will be missed by the Braves. Ynoa’s return date isn’t clear, but it is not expected until after the middle of August.

Although the Braves had many struggles and hard times in the first half of the season, they had shining moments that gave us hope that the Atlanta Braves we know and love are still with us!

Up to his season-ending injury, Ronald Acuña Jr. had an amazing season. He hit twenty-four home runs… TWENTY-FOUR! That is an insane amount. Multiple players across MLB don’t hit that many home runs in an entire 162-game season. He definitely had some sparks coming off his bat almost every time he was at the plate. Acuña was to make his second All-Star Game appearance as a starter this year, but obviously his injury robbed him of that great opportunity. He also led all of MLB players in All-Star votes. Wow!

Ozzie Albies had a great first half to his 2021 season. No, he hasn’t hit as many home runs as Acuña, nor is he the “face of the franchise,” but he is just as good – if not better than Acuña. He leads the Braves in RBI’s with 63, and he leads them in doubles with 27. Not only is Ozzie impressive at the plate, he is extremely impressive on the field. His defensive skills are through the roof! He may be smaller than everyone else… but he can run fast, field well, and make super hard plays look easy. My Ozzie is a consistent, reliable player that the Braves can count on. He was also voted into the All-Star game – and he got to play! It was his second appearance, and he wasn’t a starter, even though he should have been. Albies is such a fun player to watch, and I can’t wait to see what he continues to bring for Atlanta the rest of the season!

Freddie Freeman got off to a very, very slow first few weeks for Atlanta, but he finally started to heat up and look like the MVP Freddie we are used too. Coming into the break (and even now out of the break) his bat was hot. He was hitting extra base hits galore. Before his bat came to life, all he did was walk…or strikeout. Freeman was also awarded the honor of being in the All-Star game. It was his fifth All-Star appearance, and he was a starter.

There are SO MANY good things that have happened already for the Braves this season – even with them having a losing record and their struggles. However, with their two newly added players: outfielder Joc Pederson and catcher Stephen Vogt, I believe that Atlanta will hit a streak where everything starts to click and they will get to a winning record. They really need to put some major pressure on the first place Mets in the NL East.

Braves vs. Brewers Series Wrap

For a brief road trip, winning two out of the three games played was nice. I’m sure the Braves would have no doubt been happier with a sweep, but at least they won the series. They could’ve had a chance to win all three games (we’ll discuss that in a little bit) but unfortunately, the bullpen stumbled… again.

Game One: Drew Smyly vs. Adrian Houser, Braves won 6-3

As expected, after his ankle injury in the previous game, Ronald Acuña Jr. was not in the lineup for the Braves. They played Marcell Ozuna (like always) in left field, Ehire Adrianza in right field, and Ender Inciarte made his return from the injured list in center field.

Drew Smyly pitched very well for the Braves in this start. He went six innings, giving up only four hits, one run, and one walk. He also had four strikeouts. It looked like Drew felt more comfortable on the mound. He also had great command of his pitch count and of the strike zone. Hopefully, he can keep that up and provide some needed solidity to the Braves’ starting rotation.

The Brewers started the scoring in the bottom of the second inning on an RBI single by Luis Urias. The Braves came right back and scored two in the top of the third inning on a single by Austin Riley, which was deflected off of Brewers’ starting pitcher, Adrian Houser, which allowed Ozuna and Dansby Swanson to score, giving the Braves a 2-1 lead.

In the top of the fifth inning, on the first pitch he saw, Marcell Ozuna hit a solo home run to straight away center to give the Braves a 3-1. He SMOKED that baseball! Not to take any attention away from Ozuna, but the very next batter, Ozzie Albies, after working a full count, also hit a solo home run to straight away center. YAYY!! It was an absolute BOMB. It went 429 feet, and extended the Braves lead to 5-1. Ozuna and Albies went back-to-back for the first time this season for the Braves. The Braves also scored one more on an RBI single by Ender Inciarte in the top of the eighth to make it 6-1, Braves on top.

The bullpen pitched very well and effectively for the Braves, until the bottom of the ninth inning. Josh Tomlin started the inning for the Braves. He gave up to solo home runs to the first two batters he faced, making it a 6-3 game. That definitely brought some un-needed suspense into the bottom of the ninth. He retired one batter, and then Brian Snitker went to the bullpen to get Will Smith. Smith did his job and kept the Brewers right there, allowing the Braves to win 5-3.

Game Two: Ian Anderson vs. Brett Anderson, Braves won 5-1

Ian Anderson pitched AMAZING for the Braves in this game! He pitched six hitless and scoreless innings for the Braves. He started to pitch the seventh but gave up a single and a double without retiring a batter, and his pitch count was the highest it had ever been in his career (110 pitches), so Brian Snitker took him out. He ended up getting charged one run, that A.J. Minter allowed to score in relief of Anderson. It was very nice to see Anderson have dominance on the mound and pitch as well as he did.

The Braves backed up Anderson’s start by scoring early. They started the scoring off on a RBI double by Ozzie Albies (yay!) which allowed Freddie Freeman to score and advanced Marcell Ozuna to third in the top of the first. Not to mention, it gave the Braves a 1-0 lead! My man has done great so far in this series against the Brewers, and his bat is starting to come to life. The Braves score another run in the top of the first on a sac fly by Dansby Swanson which allowed Ozuna to score.

If you are like me, and follow all of the Braves stats and memorable moments that could possibly happen during the 2021 season, then you would know that coming into this game Freddie Freeman was sitting on 249 career home runs. He finally did it! Freeman hit his 250th career home run, a two-run shot to left center field. He extended the Braves lead to 4-0, and became just the sixth Braves player of all time to reach that monumental goal in his Major League career. Congratulations, Freddie!

The Brewers scored one run, which, like I mentioned earlier, was charged to Ian Anderson, in the bottom of the seventh inning on a sac fly by Brewers’ shortstop Luis Urias.

The Braves scored one more, and final run in the top of the eighth inning on a solo home run to straight away center by William Contreras. That made it a 5-1 Braves lead.

The Braves bullpen came through and didn’t let the Brewers offense score more than the one run they scored in the seventh.

Game Three: Huascar Ynoa vs. Freddy Peralta, Braves lost 10-9

Woah, what a game. After the start that this game had, I honestly did not see the Braves coming even close to a comeback. But, they proved me wrong and looked much more like the relentless Braves team we are used to seeing. It would’ve been even better if they came back and won, but that ultimately did not happen.

This was the first start that we have seen Ynoa start where he didn’t do as well on the mound. Not to mention he did not have a hit this game! Ynoa gave up nine hits, five runs, and two walks in only 4.1 innings of work. He did have six strikeouts, but he just wasn’t as put together on the mound for the Braves in this game. The bullpen didn’t do him too much help in relief either. Following his exit, they gave up three more runs giving the Brewers an 8-0 lead.

Okay… going into the top of the seventh inning, the Atlanta Braves are down 8-0. That is a huge run differential, but the Braves did not let that lead intimidate them! After a flyout of Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson singled and then his hit was followed by a four pitch walk to Austin Riley. Both Swanson and Riley advanced on the base pads on a wild pitch by Brewers pitcher J.P. Feyereisen. Following the wild pitch, William Contreras also reached base on a walk. Ender Inciarte had a two-RBI single following the walk to Contreras getting the Braves on the board making it 8-2.

The Brewers went deeper into their bullpen, replacing Feyereisen with Brent Suter. Keep in mind that their bullpen has yet to retire a Braves batter this inning.

Pablo Sandoval greeted the new pitcher with a first pitch fielder’s choice, he reached base safely. Ehire Adrianza followed Sandoval with another fielder’s choice, no one got out again because of a throwing error by Brewers’ shortstop Luis Urias. It also allowed William Contreras to score making it a 8-3 game. Not to mention, after the error, the Braves still had the bases loaded with one out.

Freddie Freeman was up with the bases loaded. On the very first pitch he saw, Freeman clobbered that baseball to straight away center field for a GRAND SLAM. That was the third grand slam Freeman has ever hit in his major league career. Two of those grand slams came in last year’s shortened season. His first two came within two days of each other against the same team, the Washington Nationals. He hit his third grand slam, his 251st career home run, and got the Braves back in the game making it a 8-7 Brewers lead… all in the same at bat. That made it a COMPLETELY different ballgame from that point forward.

However, once again, the Braves bullpen stumbled in the late innings. Josh Tomlin started the bottom of the seventh inning for the Braves. He gave up a lead off, four-pitch walk, got a flyout, and then gave up a one pitch single to Kolten Wong. Brian Snitker did not let him continue any longer and went even deeper into the Braves bullpen, getting Sean Newcomb. Instead of getting the Braves out of a mess, Newcomb hit the first batter he saw, and then gave up a two run single giving the Brewers an extended lead of 10-7. It’s disappointing to see your team’s bullpen blow a close game after your team worked SO hard getting the team back in the game, and when you know that your team is more than capable of scoring more runs. This is a problem that the Braves are going to have to do something about.

The Braves offense put up a fight ’til the end. They scored one run in the top of the eighth on another fielder’s choice by William Contreras, and there was yet another throwing error by Luis Urias, which allowed Dansby Swanson to score making it 10-8. In the top of the ninth inning, the Braves plated another run on a sac fly by Dansby Swanson which scored Freddie Freeman. That was the last run they earned, making the final score 10-9 Brewers on top.

Yes, it would’ve been nice if the Braves could have come back and won the game, and if their bullpen could preserve a score. But another disappointing and frustrating thing happened in game three of this series. Huascar Ynoa didn’t have his best start. That was made clear. He did not pitch as many innings, he gave up more runs than he normally does, and he didn’t have a hit at the plate. I’m sure the Braves coaching staff was disappointed with his start, but at the end of the day, they know that one player can’t be perfect all the time. Ynoa was also very frustrated with his performance, and he let his frustration out. He punched the bench in the Braves dugout, and as a result of that, he broke his right hand. He is now going to be out for at least two months just to let his hand heal, and then his strength is going to have to be built back up.

I’m sure Huascar is regretting his decision about punching the bench. The Braves needed Ynoa so much. They are already without Mike Soroka, who most likely will not be pitching for the Braves this year, which is a devastating blow, and now they are down yet another pitcher. Hopefully the Braves can gain some stability in the starting rotation and fix the much needed things in the bullpen, and soon.

Braves vs. Phillies Series Wrap

After this series with the Philadelphia Phillies and the previous series against the Washington Nationals, the Atlanta Braves are starting to look more and more like the Braves are finally getting their stuff together.

Game One: Charlie Morton vs. Zach Eflin, Braves lost 12-2

Charlie Morton, a pitcher who, so far this season, had been very effective and constant for the Braves had a faltering start in this game. He didn’t even complete a single inning. In the top of the first inning, he went through the entire Phillies lineup. He retired the first batter he saw, and then after a failed strikeout, things went downhill from there. He gave up a walk to Harper and then a single to Realmuto to load the bases with Phillies runners. It didn’t take the Phillies long to cash in some runs. Alec Bohm had an RBI single to score one and then, after Didi Gregorius popped out to Ozzie Albies, Jean Segura had a two RBI single to make it 3-0 Phillies. Then, to add to their lead, Phillies center fielder, Odubel Herrera hit a three-run home run to straight away center field. That made the score, 6-0 Phillies. And that was the final blow for Charlie Morton. The Phillies continued to score again and again, bringing their final run total to 12.

The Braves scored two runs. One came on a solo home run by Dansby Swanson in the bottom of the second inning, and the other on a RBI single by Ronald Acuña Jr. in the bottom of the fifth which scored Dansby Swanson. After coming home from a wining road trip, I didn’t expect the Braves to do much scoring, but I never thought we’d see this.

Game Two: Ian Anderson vs. Vince Velasquez, Braves won 8-7

If you like intense, nail-biter baseball games, this was the game for you. Once again, the Phillies scored first and early. They scored two in the first, and one in the second. After giving up those runs early, Ian Anderson pitched very well. It just took him a couple innings to get into his groove. Anderson went six innings giving up three runs, six hits, three walks and he had seven strikeouts.

The Braves didn’t score until Freddie Freeman hit a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to make it a 3-1 game. However, they had multiple chances to score, not to mention my man Ozzie Albies had a triple in the bottom of the fourth inning, but they failed to bring him in.

Ronald Acuña Jr., the Braves young stud, was up to bat in the bottom of the second inning. Sam Coonrod was pitching for the Phillies. The first pitched he threw Acuña was in, off the plate, and almost hit him. The very next pitch that Coonrod threw drilled Ronald on the hand. He immediately left the game, looking to be in much pain. Ehire Adrianza came in to pinch run and play right field for Acuña.

Going into the bottom of the ninth inning, the Braves still trailed the Phillies 3-1. Things didn’t look good for Atlanta. After two quick outs, Adrianza reached base on a walk. And then, Pablo Sandoval came off the bench and down to his last strike, TIED THE GAME on an absolute missile over the Braves’ bullpen. Panda has more than come through for the Braves. That home run was his fourth pinch hit home run for the Braves… his FOURTH!! Now, it was time for the Braves to have an extra inning win. Neither team scored in the bottom of the tenth inning.

Alright, here’s where things get intense — and where my mom can’t handle the stress! With the new extra innings rule, a runner automatically placed on second base, even more pressure is put on the pitcher from the get-go. A.J. Minter pitched the eleventh inning for the Braves. He got two strikeouts to the first two batters he saw, and then gave up a run scoring double to Phillies’ second baseman Nick Maton to make it a 4-3 game with the Phillies on top. The nice thing about the extra inning runner on second base, is that it applies to both teams. With the runner on second base, Ehire Adrianza reached base on a throwing error by Phillies shortstop Didi Gregorius which allowed him to not only reach base, but for Christian Pache to score from second base. That tied the game 4-4. It’s now the twelfth inning. Jacob Webb replaced Minter on the mound. He gave up a single and a sac bunt to the first two batters he saw, and then gave up the lead on which should have been an easy out. Bryce Harper was up to bat and hit a dribbler in front of the pitchers mound. Instead of going to cover home plate to prevent runners from scoring, Webb decided to try and field the ball himself. That left no one covering home plate and allowed the Phillies to score two. They also scored one more on a RBI single to J.T. Realmuto to make it 7-4 Phillies on top.

Thing didn’t look good for the Braves, again, but did they give up? The answer to that question is, no! The Braves led off the bottom of the 12th inning with a walk to Austin Riley and then a single by Dansby Swanson. That loaded the bases for the Braves. (Ozzie Albies was already on second to start the inning because of the extra inning rule.) With no one out, William Contreras was up to bat. On the second pitch he saw, he lined a base hit to left filed. It was a BASES CLEARING DOUBLE to tie the game at 7-7!! Pache came to hit and had a sac bunt to get Contreras to third, and the Adrianza, who came in the game for Acuña after he got hit, had a walk off single. The Braves won 8-7 on their first extra innings win of the year!!! These are the games that make me LOVE baseball!

Game Three: Huascar Ynoa vs. Aaron Nola, Braves won 6-1

What could be a better way to end off Mother’s Day and the series against the Phillies than a Braves win? Well, that’s exactly what the Braves did! Like the other two games of the series, the Phillies scored first and early on a solo home run by their left fielder Andrew McCutchen to give them a 1-0 lead. It was unlike Ynoa to give up a run early, but that was the only run he would give up for his entire outing.

After being hit in the hand last night, I wasn’t sure if Acuña would be “okay” enough to play in this game. But he was in the lineup so the Braves weren’t too concerned about his hand after his scare the night before. He led off the game with a walk, and stole a base which proved that his hand wasn’t too much of a concern. Freddie Freeman singled, which allowed Acuña to score and tie the game at 1-1. After a one-pitch groundout from Marcell Ozuna, Ozzie Albies tripled to score Freddie Freeman and give the Braves the lead. That was the second triple of the series for my man and they came on back-to-back nights! Ozzie’s bat has really started to come to life and it’s great to see the energy he brings on the base pads. After Austin Riley struck out, Dansby Swanson, on the first pitch he saw, hit a two-run homer to make it a 4-1 Braves game, with the Braves on top. The Braves scored two more runs after their very productive first inning. One came on a solo home run by Freddie Freeman in the bottom of the third, and the other on a double by Austin Riley in the eighth which scored Ozzie.

The Braves have really started to come through in games, not only offensively but on the mound as well. The bullpen has started maintaining a lead, and starters are going longer. With the Braves winning the last game of this series with the Phillies, they are now at 500, with a record of 17-17.

Braves vs. Nationals Series Wrap

A sweep! The Braves swept the Nationals!! Man, it was good to see a series where the Braves looked more like the Atlanta team that we are used to. The pitching was much better, they were good offensively through the entire lineup, even the pitchers spot, and the bullpen was able to come into the game with a lead and keep it.

Game One: Huascar Ynoa vs. Joe Ross, Braves won 6-1

What a game. If you weren’t a “fan” of Ynoa before this game, I can almost guarantee you are now! In this game, Ynoa’s performance on the mound was, once again, very impressive. He had great command over his pitch count and his balls to strikes ratio — pretty much everything we have come to expect out of him, he came through. The first four innings of the game was what looked like to be the making of a good old fashioned pitchers’ duel. That all changed when Ronald Acuña Jr. hit a solo home run to center field in the bottom of the fifth to give the Braves a 1-0 lead. After his homer, the Braves offense was just getting started. In the top of the sixth inning, after a line-out of Ozuna, my man, Ozzie Albies got on base with a one-out single. After his single, the Nationals went to their bullpen. Tanner Rainey was now on the mound for them. He started off great with a one pitch line-out of Austin Riley. However, things went downhill for him from there. With two outs, Dansby Swanson was intentionally walked, and then William Contreras had an RBI single to score Ozzie Albies and gave the Braves a 2-0 lead. After that, Christian Pache reached base on a walk. Two outs. Bases loaded. And Huascar Ynoa is at the plate. Can you guess what happened?!? On the second pitch he saw, Ynoa hit a GRAND SLAM to straight away center. A GRAND SLAM! Can you believe it?? Our pitcher hit a grand slam!! Honestly, I’m still in shock. That grand slam was his first career grand slam and his second home run in his very young career. Oh, not to mention his two homers have come in back to back games. He continued in the game for another two innings and only gave up one Nationals run on a RBI ground out to Kyle Schwarber. The Braves held on to win, 6-1!

Game Two: Max Fried vs. Eric Fedde, Braves won 5-3

Max Fried is finally back! And in this start he looked much more like the Max Fried we are accustomed to. He went five innings giving up only four hits and one run, and he struck out six Nationals hitters and only allowed one walk. Hopefully, Fried can keep this streak up.

The Braves bats are *finally* starting to come to life! In the top of the third inning, Contreras lead off with a single. Then after two straight outs, Acuña and Freeman both walked. Bases loaded, two outs. Marcell Ozuna was up to bat and he went long ball!! He hit a grand slam to right field to give the Braes a 4-0 lead early agains the Nationals again. Man, the Braves really have something working right now. That was their second grand slam in back to back games and the FOURTH one hit all season. William Contreras also got in on the home run fun in this game, when he hit his first career homer in the top of the fourth inning. It was a long solo-shot to center field to make it a 5-0 Braves lead. In the bottom of the fourth the Nationals scored one on a solo home run by Yan Gomes to make it a 5-1 game. That score remained until the bottom of the eight inning when Trea Turner hit a two run home run off of Josh Tomlin to make it a 5-3 game late. However, A.J. Minter came in to get the two remaining outs of the eighth inning, and he did his job without giving up another run. Will Smith came on to pitch the ninth inning for the Braves. He did his job perfectly. Three up, three down. He even got Juan Soto to ground out, which was nice to see considering Soto had a walk-off against him earlier in the season.

Game Three: Drew Smyly vs. John Lester, Braves

This was the start from Drew Smyly that all of Braves country, the Braves coaching staff, and I’m sure Smyly himself were all waiting for. He pitched six innings of four hit, one run ball. He also limited the walks in this game; he only had four, which is still quite a few but he had less than normal and he pitched more innings. He was doing so well, he actually made it into the seventh inning, but Snitker took him out after he walked the first batter he saw that inning. It made me mad that Snitker took him out. I mean, yeah he walked the first batter he faced that inning, but I think he was too quick to take him out of the game. He could at least let him stay in and at try and get through the inning. This seems to be Snitker’s MO right now, and it can be frustrating.

Anyways, the Braves won, and that’s all that really matters. The Braves did not hit a home run in this game but went back to a sense of “old school” baseball. They scored all three of their runs in the third inning. One on a RBI double by Marcell Ozuna that scored Acuña, and the other two came on a two-RBI single by Ehire Adrianza that scored my man, Ozzie and Ozuna. The Nationals scored one in the bottom of the fourth on a double by Kyle Schwarber that scored Josh Bell. They didn’t score another run until the bottom of the eighth inning, when Yan Gomes had a RBI single to make the game 3-2. The Braves bullpen held onto the lead, and the Braves completed the sweep of the Washington Nationals!

One thing to note about the third game of this series is: Freddie Freeman was not in the lineup. I’m sure Snitker was just giving him the day off to “regain himself” since he hasn’t been doing very well at the plate lately. He has also already made two errors this season which is unlike him. However, I’m sure he will be back to the good old MVP Freddie Freeman we have all gotten used too soon.