2. Pablo Sandoval has been everything the Braves hoped he’d be off the bench. He belted the game-winning two-run homer in Game 2. He also knocked a two-run pinch-hit shot on opening day.
The Braves entered the season with bench concerns, but Sandoval thus far has quelled them. He’s giving the team exactly what it needed: A bench bat with power who can change the game with one swing. His homer tied the score late on opening day, though the Braves ultimately fell short. His Wednesday work wasn’t wasted.
“It’s really hard to do what (Sandoval) just did,” manager Brian Snitker said. “To come off the bench and do what he did. The one thing about him is he’s aggressive. He was all spring, which made him attractive because no situation will be too big. It’s hard to do that twice in one week.”
3. Starter Max Fried pitched only two innings in Game 1. He struggled, allowing five runs on eight hits, but more notably, the southpaw was hit in the lower calf by a comebacker during the second inning. He completed the frame but left afterward.
It doesn’t that appear Fried suffered an injury that will sideline him. He said he initially wanted to stay in the game, but after talking with Snitker, he knew, given his performance and physical condition, that wasn’t for the best. Nonetheless, the Braves can breathe a sigh of relief their prized lefty is OK.
4. Sean Newcomb continues to see himself as a starter, yet his best work over the past two-plus seasons has undoubtedly come in the bullpen. Newcomb pitched the final inning in Game 2, striking out the side to earn his second career save.
“He started feeling it, it looked like,” Snitker said. “That’s closer stuff right there with that fastball.”
5. Josh Tomlin has been the Braves’ unsung hero over the past two seasons. Like Ynoa, it appears Tomlin will be a key figure once again. On Tuesday, he retired Braves killer Trea Turner in a high-leverage spot. Then he put out the fire in Game 1 on Wednesday, taking over for Fried and pitching two scoreless innings.
Tomlin’s outing proved crucial. It weathered the storm and helped the Braves earn their first win of the season.
“I told him, he’s the ultimate Swiss Army knife,” Snitker said. “You can use him in any situations. It was great because right there we’re thinking maybe we can get him in there and settle the whole thing down for a little bit. He did exactly that.”
Stat of the game:
7-1 (The Braves are now 7-1 in seven-inning contests dating to last season. Maybe they should campaign for regularly scheduled doubleheaders.)
“It’s one of those moments when you get goosebumps when you hit the ball.” – Sandoval on his pinch-hit homer
The Braves are off Thursday and begin their first homestand Friday against the Phillies. Charlie Morton will make his second start of the season. It will be a seven-game stay at Truist Park, with the Braves playing three against the Phillies and four against the Marlins.