Braves fill dugout, infield in 2023 MLB All-Star game

National League catcher Sean Murphy sports a Seattle-themed chest protector during the 2023 MLB All-Star Game July 11, 2023, at T-Mobile Park, in Seattle. (Dean Rutz/The Seattle Times/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

National League catcher Sean Murphy sports a Seattle-themed chest protector during the 2023 MLB All-Star Game July 11, 2023, at T-Mobile Park, in Seattle. (Dean Rutz/The Seattle Times/TNS)

SEATTLE – The Braves packed the National League dugout, bringing eight players to Seattle for the National League’s 3-2 victory over the American League in the All-Star Game on Tuesday. Perhaps even more impressive than the Braves’ attendees was how they packed the infield in the fifth inning.

The NL fielded an all-Braves infield featuring first baseman Matt Olson, second baseman Ozzie Albies, third baseman Austin Riley and shortstop Orlando Arcia in the bottom of the fifth. Cubs starter Justin Steele pitched a scoreless frame with the Braves behind him.

“That was so sick, so sick,” Riley said. “(NL manager) Rob (Thomson) said he was going to do that. That was cool of him to allow us to have that moment. I think Wash (Braves third-base coach Ron Washington) was probably pretty happy to see that. It’s something that doesn’t happen pretty often so I was fortunate to be part of it.”

The Braves had eight All-Stars, a franchise record. Outfielder Ronald Acuña, shortstop Orlando Arcia and catcher Sean Murphy started the game. Starting pitchers Spencer Strider and Bryce Elder didn’t pitch, as planned beforehand, but they were in the dugout with their teammates.

“It’s the best feeling ever,” Albies said about enjoying an All-Star game with seven of his teammates (in his past two Midsummer Classics, Albies has had a combined five Braves with him). “We enjoyed it to the max. We took it all in. It’s an amazing experience in baseball.”

Acuña led off for the NL and hit a hard liner off Yankees starter Gerrit Cole, but right fielder Adolis Garcia – after losing the ball briefly in the sun – made an excellent catch to rob Acuña of extra bases. In his All-Star debut, catcher Murphy went 0-for-2 while also being victimized by a great Garcia catch. Arcia also went 0-for-2, though he teamed with Murphy to catch the Rays’ Randy Arozarena trying to steal second in the first inning.

Olson replaced Freddie Freeman as the NL’s first baseman in the fifth. He struck out in his lone at-bat against Orioles reliever Yennier Cano to begin the sixth. It was Olson’s second All-Star game but first with his hometown Braves.

“You hope to share this experience with as many teammates as you can,” Olson said. “To have eight dudes from our team to come here, a lot of guys the first time they’re having this experience together – it’s cool to be with everybody else, too, but it’s really cool to have this many guys represent our team.”

Collectively, the Braves went 1-for-11 with five strikeouts. Riley has bragging rights if he chooses given he was the only Brave with a hit and the only one who avoided striking out. He singled off Cano, earning the second hit of his All-Star career after collecting one last summer at Dodger Stadium.

“Hey, just stick with the plan and try not to do too much,” Riley said. “I think I’ve had two that’ve just snuck through to the right side, so we’ll take it.”

Albies went 0-for-2, but in his third All-Star game, he’s just happy to see a victory. Perhaps it perfectly captures the Braves’ mindset when their second baseman’s first comments after an exhibition were about winning.

“I’ve done two of these before and we didn’t win,” Albies said. “You want to come here and enjoy a win. It means a lot. The National League hadn’t won in a lot of years.”

This was the NL’s first victory since 2012, snapping a nine-game skid to the AL. The Braves’ All-Stars in 2012 were Chipper Jones, Dan Uggla, Craig Kimbrel and Michael Bourn. Coincidently, Kimbrel closed out the win for the NL Tuesday.

More on the All-Stars:

- The NL also had Miami slugger Jorge Soler, who was the Braves’ 2021 World Series MVP and produced one of the greatest swings in franchise history with his mammoth blast in Game 6 against the Astros.

“It’s pretty sick (to have) our World Series MVP (here, too),” Albies said. “It’s super special to have him here.”

- The attendance at T-Mobile Park: 47,159. The loudest cheers went to Mariners past and present, from Julio Rodriguez and George Kirby to Edgar Martinez and Ken Griffey Jr.

- Rockies catcher Elias Diaz blasted the go-ahead two-run homer in the eighth off Orioles reliever Felix Bautista. Diaz was named the game’s MVP.

- Just like the past two Midsummer Classics, Shohei Ohtani was the week’s star. The Angels’ two-way mega talent had Mariners fans chanting “Come to Seattle” during his at-bats. Ohtani, of course, is a free agent this winter, and his free agency might be the most anticipated in American sports since LeBron James’ in 2010.

- What a moment for Diamondbacks rookie outfielder Corbin Carroll. He earned a starting outfield spot to make his first All-Star appearance in his hometown of Seattle. Carroll is the soul of the Diamondbacks, who’ve surged back into relevance with a 52-39 record, tied with the Dodgers for first in the NL West.

- Walking around Seattle the past few days, one was guaranteed to spot multiple Acuña jerseys, even being so far from Braves territory. He’s emerged into one of the game’s best and most popular players.

“He’s unbelievable,” Padres outfielder Juan Soto said of his friend Acuña. “It’s good to see him. He’s an incredible guy. I’m more than excited to see him doing (all) this.”

- Murphy was the third Braves catcher to win the starting job through fan balloting, joining Javy Lopez (2003) and Brian McCann (2011).

- Riley is the first Braves third baseman to earn multiple All-Star nods since Jones.

- Former Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson was also named to the All-Star game but was replaced due to injury. Former Braves closer Kenley Jansen, who’s now with Boston, pitched in the game.

- Elder and Strider, not even through three seasons, joined the following as Braves All-Star starting pitchers since 2000: Max Fried, Michael Soroka, Mike Foltynewicz, Julio Teheran, Shelby Miller, Jair Jurrjens, Tim Hudson, John Smoltz, Russ Ortiz, Tom Glavine, Mike Remlinger, John Burkett and Greg Maddux.

- The AL leads the NL, 47-44-2 in the all-time series. The AL has also outscored the NL, 386 to 377.

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