What Needs To Happen For The Braves Coming Down The Stretch

With twelve games left (including tonight’s) the Atlanta Braves need to secure wins now more than ever. Every game is important, no matter what team you are facing. Obviously you cannot win every game, but with so few games left, the Braves need to have the mindset of winning every single game.

This has been a crazy season for Atlanta. They had a rough start and have been plagued with injuries. The most significant of those being the loss of Ronald Acuña Jr. when he tore his ACL. However, the Braves have played harder and in my opinion, even better baseball after the loss of Acuña.

The Braves went from third place to first place in a matter of games. Their biggest rivals in late July were the New York Mets. They were never a fun team to play. The Mets have so many big name players and a great pitching staff. However, the Braves were able to capitalize on “must-win” opportunities and come through to gain sole possession of first place. Yes, they have been in first place all by themselves, but it has not been easy. At one point Atlanta had a six game lead in first place. That lead dropped down to one game on September 18th- three days ago. It was almost like things came to a complete halt for the Braves. Starting pitching was still continuing to produce without much flaw, and the bullpen was lights out…for the most part. Will Smith has been very inconstant for Atlanta. It is safe to say you can’t exactly trust him with a one run lead, maybe not even a two run lead. His latest blown save came in a very crucial game against the San Fransisco Giants on September 17th.

Another thing that has been a growing concern lately for the Braves is that their offense hasn’t been coming through. Offensively Atlanta has had their really hot moments where you couldn’t seem to get them out, and they’ve had their other moments where they couldn’t seem to make any contact and were striking out every at-bat.

The Atlanta Braves are coming down an extremely crucial stretch. They are half way through their four-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks, and then they have to face the Padres, Phillies, and wrap up the season with the Mets. None of those series’ are going to be easy. Those three series will either make or break the Braves. Especially the one with the Phillies.

Atlanta is going to have to play even better baseball than they have shown that they are capable of doing throughout this season. All of Braves country wants to see their Atlanta Braves clinch the National League East for the fourth year in a row, and make it even farther in the postseason than they did last year.

Here’s three things the Braves need to capitalize on:

  • Starting pitching needs to continue to come through:

Atlanta’s starting pitching got off to a rough start this season. They were giving up home runs, walks, and extra base hits almost every at bat. Not to mention they were gaining an ERA that wasn’t pleasant. However, the Braves starting pitching significantly improved after the All-Star Break. Max Fried and Charlie Morton have been the key men in Brain Snitker’s rotation. They have really come through for the Braves and will hopefully continue to give good, strong outings.

  • The back of the bullpen needs to finish off close scoring games:

The Braves bullpen has been very good this year. Like Atlanta’s starting pitching, they got off to a rough start. The bullpen was walking too many guys and giving up too many home runs. Those “relief runs” almost always came back to haunt the Braves.

Atlanta did not re-sign Mark Melancon and he ended up with the Padres and has the most saves in all of MLB. He was a good pitcher when we had him and he has continued to show his skill as a closer. With Melancon being gone, the Braves signed Will Smith to be their closer.

On Paper, Smith looked very appealing. His ERA wasn’t bad and he had a good walk-to-strikeout ratio. However, his appearances for Atlanta have been underwhelming. It’s no secret Will Smith has trouble with the home run ball. In almost every appearance he makes, he gives up a home run. Some are more painful than others. And with him being the Braves so called closer, those runs really hurt. Hopefully, whatever his “problem” is, Smith will figure it out as the postseason push is getting closer and closer.

  • The offense needs to heat back up:

All throughout this 2021 season, the Braves offense has been very “home run or nothing” heavy. In games where the offense is doing well and the Braves score multiple times, multiple home runs were hit. But the problem was, and in some cases still is, was that no one was on base. After the All-Star Break, the Braves were producing more runs scored without the home run, but they are still home run heavy.

When facing good teams who have good pitching, you aren’t going to get a home run pitch all the time. In fact you rarely get one of those…unless the pitcher has a mess up. This will prove very critical for the Braves if they make it in the postseason. They HAVE to be able to score without relying on a home run.

So with all of this to consider, our Atlanta Braves have a lot of pressure right now. A lot of people pretty much gave up on the Braves after Acuña went down in July. But Atlanta has shown that they don’t need Acuña to win baseball games and can play good baseball without him. They also have a lot riding on them that if they don’t win the NL East, for the fourth straight year, they won’y make it into the postseason. That is a HUGE punch in the gut. After everything that the Braves have gone through this year…for it to all be for nothing.

That is why they need to focus even more and win the ballgames that they need, to a prove that they are a good team. With twelve games left, it all comes down to this.

Go Braves!

Braves vs. Orioles Series Wrap

Wow. Another sweep! The Atlanta Braves have swept three teams in a row. That’s insane! Yes, this sweep was against another “easier” team, but every game is important no matter what team you are playing. Hopefully they can keep this up.

Game One: Max Fried va. Keegan Akin, Braves won 3-0

What a game for Max Fried! He pitched ALL nine innings. Not only did he pitch the entire game…he pitched a shutout!!! He only allowed four hits, and did not walk a single batter. And, he only threw 90 pitches. This was an extremely impressive outing for Fried, and I’m sure it was one he’ll never forget.

All of the Braves runs came via the home run ball. In the top of the second inning, Dansby Swanson led off with a first-pitch single. Travis d’Arnaud followed his single with a two-run homer. That got Atlanta on the board and made it a 2-0 game.

They scored their other run in the top of the third inning. Jorge Soler hit a solo home run that made it a 3-0 Braves lead. That was the final run scored in the game. For the Atlanta Braves and Max Fried, three runs was all they needed.

Game Two: Drew Smyly vs. Matt Harvey, Braves won 5-4

Drew Smyly pitched well for Atlanta. He went five innings, allowed five hits, three runs, zero walks, and he had eight strikeouts. He gave up a solo home run in the top of the first inning to give the Orioles a 1-0 lead, but was able to limit the damage that inning.

After the Orioles took a 1-0 lead, the Braves started their scoring. In the top of the third, Ozzie Albies started the inning with a strikeout. Jorge Soler followed him with a walk, and then Freddie Freeman was hit by a pitch. With two runners on base, Austin Riley struck out to make the second out. On the very next pitch, Dansby Swanson hit a two-RBI double making it a 2-1 game, giving Atlanta the lead.

Joc Pederson extended the Braves lead in the top of the fourth inning. He crushed a solo home run into straightaway center, making it a 3-1 game.

Although the Braves had a two run lead, Smyly’s home run problem got the best of him. He gave up two solo home runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to tie the game at three apiece.

However, that 3-3 tie didn’t last long! In the top of the fifth inning, Austin Riley hit a solo shot. The Braves added one more run in the top of the ninth inning. It came on a sac fly by Jorge Soler. His sac fly scored Stephen Vogt from third base. He reached base earlier that inning and then was advanced to third when my man Ozzie had a single.

It was a good thing that the Braves added on that extra run in the top of the ninth inning. Will Smith – who hasn’t been lights out for Atlanta at all this season – struggled to win this game. He gave up a solo home run to Anthony Santander who had already homered off of Smyly today. His home run made it a 5-4 game. That made it an uncomfortable lead for the Atlanta Braves, but thankfully Smith was able to limit the damage and preserve a one nothing lead to allow the Braves to win 5-4.

Game Three: Touki Toussaint vs. John Means, Braves won 3-1

Touki Toussaint pitched a good game for the Braves. He went 5.1 innings, allowed five hits, one run, three walks, and he had five strikeouts. The one run he allowed came in the fourth inning, but other than that he was lights out. I really feel like Toussaint could’ve pitched a complete six innings. After he had already gotten one out, he gave up a single. Brian Snitker took him out of the game. This is something that continues to bother me. I feel like Snitker should give his starting pitchers a chance in a situation like that instead of just taking them out.

The Braves scored all of their runs in the fourth inning. The first one came on a solo home run by Jorge Soler to make it 1-0. Freddie Freeman doubled and after Riley struck out, Dansby Swanson walked. Adam Duvall had a two-RBI double top score both freeman and Swanson to make it a 3-0 game.

The Orioles scored their one and only run in the bottom of the fourth, but other than that they couldn’t conjure up any more offense. That allowed the Braves to win 3-1. This series was their third series sweep in a row, and their ninth game in a row. Wow!

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. Jesús 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.

Braves vs. Nationals Series Wrap

Woohoo another sweep! The Atlanta Braves are on a roll. It has been so great to see the Braves finally get into a consistent wining groove…and get rewarded for it.

Game One: Charlie Morton vs. Josiah Gray, Braves won 4-2

After a three plus hour rain delay, this game was finally underway.

Charlie Morton pitched for Atlanta. His first inning got off to a very shaky start, but he was able to get himself under control and pitch a great game. He pitched six innings, allowed six hits, two runs, two walks, and he had seven strikeouts. After his first two pitches in the bottom of the first inning, it didn’t look like Charlie Morton was going to have a strong outing. However, he turned things around and was able to limit the damage to only two runs.

Washington scored their only two runs of the game in the bottom of the first inning. On the first pitch of the inning, Victor Robles, the Nats’ center fielder, led off with a double. Juan Soto scored him with a single, and then Josh Bell had a sac fly that scored another run to make it a 2-0 game, Nationals on top.

All of the Braves runs came on solo home runs. ALL of them! In the top of the fifth inning, Travis d’Arnaud hit the first solo shot. It was a line-drive laser, and his first home run since his return from the injured list. His homer made it a 2-1 game.

The second solo home run came in the top of the sixth inning. It was an absolute BOMB hit off the bat of my man, Ozzie Albies. His homer went a long way, and it tied the game up at two apiece.

In the top of the seventh inning, Austin Riley hit yet another solo home run for Atlanta. It went a long way too, and it broke the 2-2 tie, making it a 3-2 game Braves on top.

And, then, to score the fourth and final run for the Braves, Dansby Swanson hit a solo home run in the top of the ninth inning. That made a final score of 4-2, and the Braves took game one.

Game Two: Max Fried vs. Patrick Corbin, Braves won 12-2

Max Fried pitched a great game for Atlanta. Not to mention he contributed at the plate too! He went six innings, allowed five hits, two runs, ZERO walks, and he had seven strikeouts. He gave up one run in the fourth, and one in the sixth, but other than those two runs, he was lights out.

The top of the third inning is where the Braves started their scoring. Guillermo Heredia led off the inning with a strikeout, and then Max Fried reached base on a single. Ozzie Albies hit a booming triple to center field. His triple scored Max Fried from first base! Jorge Soler struck out to make the second out, and then Freeman scored Ozzie with an RBI single, making it 2-0 Braves.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, Josh Bell had an RBI single that scored Victor Robles who singled to lead off that inning.

Atlanta added onto their lead in the top of the fifth inning. Guillermo Heredia led off with a single, and Max Fried advanced him to second on a sac bunt. With one out, my man Ozzie Albies hit a gigantic two-run home run! His two-run shot made it a 4-1 game, Braves on top. Soler followed Ozzie’s homer with a walk and Freddie followed him with a single. Dansby Swanson hit a two-RBI single to score Freeman and Soler, making it a 6-1 game.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Washington scored their second and final run, making the sore 6-2 Atlanta still on top.

The Braves, once again, added onto their lead. They scored three in the top of the seventh. Dansby Swanson hit a three-run homer…it went way out there! And they also scored another run in the top of the eighth inning when Soler grounded into a double play, but scored Joc Pederson while doing it. That made it a 10-2 game.

To score the final two runs of the game for the Atlanta Braves, Dansby Swanson and Adam Duvall both hit solo home runs in the top of the ninth inning. They were back-to-back bombs, and it was Dansby’s second home run of the night!

Game Three: Drew Smyly vs. Paolo Espino, Braves won 6-5

Woah. This was a suspenseful game! The Braves had a lead from the get-go, but the Nationals were relentless until the end. (I *love* these kinds of games…my mom does not!)

Drew Smyly didn’t have his strongest outing for the Braves. He only went four innings. And in those four inning, he allowed six hits, three runs, only one walk, and four strikeouts. Smyly threw 74 pitches across those four innings, and a lot of those were high-stress pitches.

Luckily, Atlanta started the scoring first. In the top of the second inning Stephen Vogt had an RBI groundout that scored Adam Duvall and made it a 1-0 game. In the top of the third inning, Dansby Swanson extended the Braves lead with a two-run home run. His homer made it a 3-0 game.

The Nats got on the board in the bottom of the third inning. Victor Robles had an RBI single that scored Luis Garcia, another runner scored on a wild pitch, and Juan Soto had a sac fly to make it a 3-3 tie game.

To break the 3-3 tie, Freddie Freeman and Austin Riley hit back-to-back solo home runs. Those two solo shots made it a 5-3 game. They also scored another run on a wild pitch, making it a 6-3 game, Atlanta on top.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Carter Kieboom for the Nationals hit a two-RBI single that scored Soto and Bell making it a 6-5 game.

Even though it was a close game, the Braves bullpen was able to preserve the lead and allow the Braves to sweep the Washington Nationals. Finally, our bullpen is doing its job. Keep it up, guys!

This series was huge for Atlanta. Not only did they keep their winning streak alive and keep the above 50/50, they also gained solo possession of first place in the National League East. Woohoo! I knew they could do it!!!