Five observations on the second game:
1. In a way, doubleheaders are inherently difficult. A lot can happen in 18 innings, which is why it’s so difficult to win both games.
Yet on this day, the Braves were clearly better.
“It’s a mental thing,” Ozzie Albies said. “You know you gotta play two games, so mind over matter. Go get it done.”
The Braves received 14 scoreless innings from starting pitchers Allan Winans and Spencer Strider. That, and the 21-run outburst in the first game, allowed them to save their bullpen during this lengthy stretch without any off days. The Braves, who won both games, only used three relievers – not counting infielder Nicky Lopez, who pitched a scoreless ninth in the first game.
Yes, in 18 innings of baseball, they needed only three relievers.
“It starts with your starting pitching, always,” manager Brian Snitker said. “This game’s all about that. When you get two starts and can use three relievers in 18 innings, that’s pretty good.”
The Braves are clearly the better club – a look at the standings would tell you that. But they also played with more fire and energy. The Mets, despite decent crowds at both games, looked sluggish.
Through three games of this series, the gap couldn’t be larger: The Braves have outscored the Mets, 34-3, in this series.
2. How much pleasure do the Braves take in beating the rival Mets?
“A lot of pleasure, of course, because they always say they’re going to beat us,” Albies said. “That’s all I can say. I won’t say much.”
The Braves always seem ready for these games. A year ago, they chased down the Mets and won the NL East. In 2023, they’ve dominated New York.
The Braves are 8-1 in nine games against the Mets this season. Dating to last year, Atlanta has won 14 of its past 16 contests against New York.
The Braves have outscored the Mets 118-54 over this stretch.
“Any divisional game, regardless of who it is you’re playing, is always big,” Strider said. “They’re the teams you’re gonna play the most, obviously, so you want to win those games. They’re tough games, because they’re familiar with you and you’re familiar with them. I think mentally, those are ones you got to prepare for a little bit more and really have a good strategy.”
3. In this space – and surely others – you have seen the rotation’s poor numbers brought to light. They pitched poorly in the six games that preceded this series, and they’ve collectively turned in a subpar performance since the All-Star break.
They now deserve credit.
In three games this series, Charlie Morton, Winans and Strider have combined for 19 scoreless innings.
The final 14 scoreless frames allowed the Braves to sweep a doubleheader for the second time this season. And in the second game, Strider’s outing bought the offense time to break through against Mets starter Jose Quintana and the Mets’ bullpen.
“It’s tough,” Strider said of winning both games. “I think the momentum of the first one kind of gets negated when you come in here and sit, and everybody has to kind of recover and start over. It’s a blank slate when you play that second one. That game could’ve gone either way there for a minute, with the way (Mets starter Jose) Quintana was pitching for them. Our guys came through, as they always do. … It’s just really good to get that second victory.
Morton walked a career-high seven batters, but never folded. Winans was wild to begin his outing, but became stronger as the game progressed. Strider only allowed three hits.
4. Here’s a play that encapsulated the doubleheader and where these teams stand: In the eighth inning, Ozzie Albies scored from first base on a ball hit to second base.
The Mets second baseman couldn’t field it, and it bounced up and into center field. As Albies raced toward third base, the center fielder made an error that allowed him to go home.
The Braves led, 2-0.
The advantage became four when Marcell Ozuna smoked a two-run double in that same inning, then six when Albies launched a two-run homer in the ninth.
“We want games like this to happen every single night,” Albies said.
5. Ronald Acuña Jr. and Matt Olson earn a ton of the attention, and rightfully so.
But Albies’ 28 homers are tied for second on the team, and his 90 RBIs are second.
Stat to know
194 - The Braves (75-41) lead the majors with a plus-194 run differential.
“It’s an outstanding job by the whole team. We put work in together to get these Ws. We see our capability of what we can do out there. We’re just taking advantage and (we) keep going hard every single night.” - Albies
Yonny Chirinos will face Mets right-hander Kodai Senga in Sunday’s series finale, which begins at 7 p.m. and will air on ESPN.