PHILADELPHIA – On day two of the season, it might be too early to send messages or make statements …

But what else do you call these two games for the Braves?

Atlanta on Saturday routed the Phillies, 12-4. The Braves have clinched the series over Philadelphia. In these games, they have looked like the better team – which, if viewing both clubs on paper, is not surprising.

Five observations on Saturday’s victory:

1. Over the offseason, the Braves pursued Aaron Nola hard. They were finalists for him before he re-signed with Philadelphia.

On Saturday, it took them two batters to begin pounding Nola, as Ozzie Albies sent a two-run homer over the right-center field fence. It began their beatdown.

The Braves’ bats made Max Fried’s poor start – the shortest of his career – a non-story. Despite his struggles, they continued piling on Nola and the relievers who followed.

Over 4 1/3 innings, the Braves tagged Nola – who has succeeded against them in the postseason – for seven runs. They collected 12 hits off him. They rendered Philadelphia’s offense useless because they never stopped pressuring Nola and scoring.

This was a reminder that, well, these Braves are really good – again.

“It’s the same guys, pretty much,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “I kind of think they’re all young enough (that) they’re going to continue to improve and get better. I’ve really liked the at-bats, the contact, putting the ball in play – we’ve done a really good job of that. I think it’s paid off.”

In the second inning, Travis d’Arnaud poked a two-run double into right field. Jarred Kelenic followed with a run-scoring single – the first of two RBIs for him. And in the third, Matt Olson homered before Kelenic drove in another run.

Pitching with a two-run lead in the first inning, Fried surrendered three runs. The Braves immediately scored three in the top of the second, and led for good.

“Good at-bats,” Snitker said of the approach versus Nola. “We’ve seen him a lot, he’s seen us a lot. The whole thing. Man, he’s some kind of competitor. We did a good job in our approach to him.”

2. Two years ago, the Braves acquired Olson and he stepped into the clubhouse as the man tasked with filling Freddie Freeman’s shoes. So Olson knows a little something about wanting to make a positive impression on a new team.

He can relate to Kelenic, who is 4-for-6 with two RBIs over the first two games after going 8-for-56 this spring.

“Yeah, it’s great,” Olson said. “Everybody wants to come in and do really well when you’re on a new team, and show everybody what you can do. That’s just not how it works. Unfortunately, this is not a game where effort equals success all the time. I think once he didn’t get off to the start he wanted in spring, he took a step back and took a deep breath, and said, ‘I’m a really good player, I know what to do.’ And we’re seeing it now. The at-bats the last two days have been off the charts.”

In addition to his two run-scoring hits on Saturday, he also made a terrific diving catch in left field to rob Bryce Harper of a hit. After sliding on the outfield grass, Kelenic held up his glove and kept his mouth open as if he were in awe, too. On the mound, Jesse Chavez clapped.

When the Braves traded for Kelenic, his confidence was shot because of the struggles he’d experienced to that point. He wondered if he could become the player he always wanted to be.

Since the trade, the Braves have created a positive environment for their new teammate.

“It’s a crazy game,” Olson said. “Sometimes you need a little reminder about how good you are. I’m not saying that he did, but it’s nice to have dudes who are truly pulling from the same side of the rope with you.”

3. You cannot explain it, but it exists.

“There’s no doubt that guys have ballparks that, for whatever reason, they see the ball good in,” Snitker said. “There’s parks all over that you see guys, they hit well there for whatever reason.”

In 21 games at Citizens Bank Park, including Saturday, Olson has homered 12 times. He’s driven in 23 runs. And he entered Saturday with a 1.121 OPS in this place.

Olson said he likes this ballpark because the ball flies and it has a good background for batters.

“It’s just kind of different place to place, for whatever reason,” he said. “I feel like they got a good one here.”

4. From the moment he stepped on the mound, Fried battled. He did not have his best stuff. He fought to locate his pitches. He almost hurt himself when he slid to stop a ball that was ruled foul (he stayed in the game).

To add insult to injury, he had a would-be strike three call lead to an eventual walk. (Fried didn’t make excuses for this.)

“Definitely off a little bit,” he said of himself. “Just wasn’t, obviously, able to get back on track as quickly as I wanted to, and things kind of just spiraled out of control.”

Fried needed 43 pitches to record two outs. Chavez entered and stabilized the game by holding Philadelphia to a run over three innings.

5. A nice moment: In the fourth inning, Tyler Matzek jogged to the mound for his first appearance in a regular-season game since Oct. 5, 2022.

Matzek pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings.

“Definitely had some nerves,” he said. “Good to get the first one out of the way and have a good result with it.”

Stat to know

21-32 - The Braves have scored 21 runs on 32 hits in two games here.


“This lineup is deep one through nine. They can beat you at any moment, and they put together really good at-bats against a really good pitching staff today. You know that, even when you got some rough outings, that they’re gonna be able to pick you up and have a really good chance to win.” - Fried

Up next

In Sunday’s series finale, left-hander Chris Sale will make his Braves regular-season debut. Lefty Ranger Suarez will start for the Phillies.