Braves notes: Olson’s ability to flush tough times, a cool Morton-Sale stat

Atlanta Braves' Matt Olson looks on during a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Tuesday, April 30, 2024, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Atlanta Braves' Matt Olson looks on during a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Tuesday, April 30, 2024, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

NEW YORK — Matt Olson’s talent is unmistakable. He is one of baseball’s better hitters.

He also is elite for another reason: He can “flush it,” as they say in this sport. When he’s slumping, he’s able to get his mind off baseball.

“For me, it’s always just having normal conversations with the guys in here, going to dinner, playing golf, just talking to family, friends,” Olson said before Saturday’s game in New York. “Kind of just be Matt Olson who’s not the baseball player and just the person, and hang out with people. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the baseball and the outcomes when you’re doing it every day, but there’s a lot of life outside of it, too. Kind of giving that perspective always seems to help.”

On Friday, Olson homered for the first time since April 7. He went 26 days without a home run – the longest homerless stretch of his career.

Did it feel that long?

“It felt pretty long,” Olson said with a smile, before reiterating that. “It felt pretty long.”

Then he added: “But especially when things aren’t going the best, home run is the last thing on my mind. You’re trying to go put good at-bats together. For me, when I’m hitting, I go up with a line-drive approach and (when) I square up some line drives, that’s when the home runs follow after. It never works the opposite way. You never go up trying to hit a home run and hit a line drive – for me, at least.”

Olson has said in the past that when he struggles, it’s because he has a tendency to sway back with his lower back. This time, he said, it was because he was going too far out and landing too hard on the front foot.

How has he learned to flush it so well in a game that beats guys down? “It’s a good question,” Olson said. He knows this: He’s struggled before, and he’ll slump again.

“It’s part of what we sign up for,” Olson said. “You gotta do what you can to get back on the right path, however long it might be, and continue to build it up the right way.”

Olson’s tough times have been one reason that the Braves’ offense has had a difficult time recently. There’s no denying that the team hasn’t had an easy time scoring over the past few weeks.

The Braves are 24-12 record. And look at the names in the clubhouse.

The Braves will get going.

“I think everybody can look up at the end of the year and see how it is,” Olson said. “Apart from that road trip – Seattle, Dodgers, where we didn’t play well – other than that, we’ve been winning. You can almost look at it opposite and say, we’re playing pretty good baseball and don’t have some guys doing what they normally do. It kind of gets you excited about when it all kind of clicks, what it could look like.”

Michael Harris’ struggles

Michael Harris II was going through the worst slump of his career – at least statistically.

He entered the game hitless in his past 29 at-bats, which was the longest skid in a career that began two years ago.

But on Saturday, Harris led off the third inning with a single. He set the table for Orlando Arcia, who hit a two-run homer to give Atlanta the lead.

Later on, he hit a run-scoring single.

He finished 3-for-3. It was his fourth three-hit game of the season.

Before Saturday, Harris’ last hit was a second-inning single on April 30 in Seattle..

A cool stat involving two teammates

Each day, the Braves’ media relations department puts out the game notes – a collection of nuggets and statistics about that night’s matchup and the team overall.

This is a golden one: Charlie Morton and Chris Sale are the first pair of teammates each to have made an opening-day start and also recorded the last out of a World Series since Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley and Cy Young Award winner Bret Saberhagen, who pitched for Boston in 1998 (courtesy of Elias Sports Bureau).

Morton, who started on opening day for the Rays in 2020, got the final out of the 2017 World Series when he got Corey Seager to ground out as Houston won it all. Sale has started five opening-day games between his White Sox and Red Sox tenures, and he also struck out Manny Machado to win the 2018 World Series for Boston.