WASHINGTON – In recent seasons, you could expect the Braves to score a billion runs on their trips to Washington.

At the moment, they are struggling to find momentum. Every win seems monumental, even if they are still in a clear postseason position.

This is why Thursday’s 5-2 win over Washington at Nationals Park was so sweet for the visitors, who are 35-25.

Five observations:

1. When Reynaldo López entered the dugout after allowing two runs in his sixth and final inning, Orlando Arcia approached him.

“Hey, don’t worry about that,” Arcia told López, who relayed the story through interpreter Franco García. “We’re gonna come and get it back for you.”

And then they did.

In the top of the seventh inning, Adam Duvall launched a game-tying, two-run home run. In the eighth, the Braves broke through and scored three runs.

And all of this came after the Braves didn’t have their first baserunner against lefty Mitchell Parker until the fifth inning, and their first hit until the sixth.

Over the last six days, their offense has shown signs of life. They aren’t there yet, but they’re much closer than a month ago.

“That was good to see the bats come alive,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “I’ll take it any time in the game we can get it.”

The Braves fell behind by two runs – which has seemed like more than two runs because of their struggles.

They never doubted.

“We never give up,” Marcell Ozuna said. “That’s our phrase right now. We never give up.”

2. The way the Braves punched back after López served up back-to-back homers was a terrific sign because they looked like themselves.

The eighth inning also symbolized part of their identity.

Reliever Hunter Harvey, who entered with a 2.08 ERA, had gotten two quick outs. He looked to preserve the tie and send it to the bottom of the eighth.

The Braves, though, can strike at any time.

“I feel like we’re always one swing away from a big inning,” Duvall said. “A walk and then a blast, or a base hit and a blast. Up and down the lineup, we’ve got guys that can drive the baseball, so we always feel like, at any moment, we can kind of strike.”

With two outs, Ozzie Albies doubled to keep the inning alive.

The next batter, Austin Riley, flared a 77 mph single into right-center field that scored Albies. Riley deserved this one after making two outs on balls hit over 100 mph – though they weren’t close to being hits.

“This game will beat you up pretty good, pretty quick,” Riley said. “You just try to find every little positive thing to try to build off of.”

“I think it was big for Austin to get that big RBI like that,” Snitker said of the slumping third baseman. “I was happy to see him (do that).”

And after Riley, Ozuna – Atlanta’s best hitter two-plus months into the season – blasted a two-run bomb to give the Braves a three-run lead.

The Braves had pulled ahead for good.

“And that’s a pretty good reliever right there, too,” Snitker said. “He hadn’t pitched in a few days and was strong. He’s having a really good year. That’s kind of more positive, too, to do it off a guy like that also.”

3. All along, the Braves have preached their calm amidst this storm. They are struggling, but they’ve said they’re not panicking.

To some fans, this might seem disingenuous – like it lacks accountability.

But they feel this trait – their ability to remain level – is a strength of the clubhouse.

“It’s huge,” Riley said. “I can’t say enough good things about this clubhouse and what we have here, and how much we pull for each other. And I think when you’re going through times like this, it shows even more. It helps you get through it. We come together as a team every day, and we work. That’s all you can do. Just try to put your best foot forward.”

“That goes back to the personnel that we have – guys that have been through it before, guys that have had plenty of success and guys that are smart enough to know that if you keep swinging, if you keep hitting the ball hard enough, it’s gonna go your way eventually,” Duvall said. “I think it’s just the knowledge to know that it’s gonna break through is big.”

4. López had already allowed two homers in the inning. Then he gave up two singles.

Without any run support to that point, it seemed like the game could’ve gotten out of hand.

López kept the deficit at two runs by getting a lineout and rolling a double play. He displayed composure.

“Yeah, I think for me, honestly, spending all that time as a reliever – like I’ve mentioned before – has just been really helpful,” López said. “You’ve just got to keep the mind calm, focused, not get sidetracked or zero in on the little things that didn’t go your way. That’s how you get out of those messes.”

López allowed two runs over six innings … and his ERA went up. This is how good he’s been to this point.

Through 11 starts, he holds a 1.85 ERA.

“I’ll take six innings, two runs. Holy cow,” Snitker said. “And he was really good again.”

5. We’ll leave you with this simple statistic: The Braves have scored at least four runs in 37 of their 60 games thus far.

They are 29-8 when they do so.

Stat to know

17 - The Braves have 17 multi-homer games out of 60. Entering Thursday, they ranked 18th in baseball in games with multiple home runs.


“We got it. I’m there already. I’m just ready for my guys to back me up. (Austin) Riley is gonna be up there, and (Matt Olson), too.” - Ozuna on how close the offense is to having games like this consistently. (He said it in a joking manner. Ozuna has a great sense of humor, and can be hilarious. He seemingly just meant that soon, others will be hitting well, too.)

Up next

On Friday, the Braves’ Chris Sale will face Nationals right-hander Jake Irvin. First pitch is at 6:45 p.m.