ARLINGTON, Texas — In the past two-plus decades, the Braves have been successful against starting pitchers making their debuts.
In recent seasons, the Braves have crushed left-handed pitching.
The two came together Monday, when the Braves beat the Rangers 12-0 to spoil a lefty’s debut and snap a four-game losing streak. Oh, and the Braves tied a major-league record.
Here are five takeaways from the game:
1. When the Rangers called up left-hander Cody Bradford, he had posted a 0.91 ERA over seven starts in Triple-A. Put another way: He had allowed only four runs over 39-2/3 innings. He led the Pacific Coast League in ERA, WHIP, opponents’ batting average, innings and wins.
He faced stiffer competition Monday.
Ronald Acuña Jr., Matt Olson, Ozzie Albies, Austin Riley, Sean Murphy and their teammates arrived at Globe Life Field on the heels of a frustrating weekend. They were ready.
The Braves scored six runs over five innings versus Bradford. The lefty allowed seven hits, and two of them were two-run homers – the first to Kevin Pillar, the other to Acuña.
Since 2000, 34 pitchers have started against the Braves for their MLB debuts. Their combined ERA is 6.16. Their teams are 13-21 versus the Braves in those games.
“It was great to come out and swing the bats,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “I mean, we needed something like that to where we could just kind of let things relax a little bit. … Yeah, that was good to just score runs. It was a big win. We let one get away yesterday, and so this was kind of nice to start this series out with a win.”
2. Acuña is one of MLB’s few five-tool players. Riley is one of the sport’s top hitters. Albies, a switch hitter, is better from the right side. Murphy is off to a hot start.
Atlanta’s righties make it tough on left-handed pitching. After Monday, the Braves lead baseball with a .313 batting average and a .961 OPS versus lefties. The Braves have hit 31 homers against left-handed pitching – nine more than any other club.
In the second inning, they got to Bradford as Pillar hammered a hanging slider before Acuña demolished a curveball that was actually below the strike zone.
In the second inning, the Braves hit balls at 103.2 mph, 103.6 mph, 106.6 mph, 107.1 mph, 116.1 mph and 100.1 mph. They were, um, not fooled.
After Bradford’s night ended, the Rangers brought in Cole Ragans, a lefty. The Braves treated him the same: Arcia hit a two-run shot in the sixth inning and Riley blasted one in the seventh – the third and fourth two-run homers of the game for Atlanta.
“Great,” Albies said of the night. “That’s what the team does. We had a tough weekend in Toronto and we didn’t put our heads down. We came here ready to play and that’s what we did today.”
3. You’re probably reading through this and thinking something: Wow, that’s a lot of two-run home runs.
The Braves tied a major-league record by hitting five two-run home runs, according to ESPN.
The players who hit them: Pillar, Acuña, Arcia, Riley and Marcell Ozuna (Ozuna’s came off a position player in the ninth).
The last team to hit five two-run homers in a game? The Oakland Athletics on Sept. 10, 2019. And in that game, Olson and Sean Murphy both hit two home runs. Olson launched a pair of two-run shots, while one of Murphy’s two homers was a two-run blast.
4. Without Max Fried and Kyle Wright, who are both sidelined for undetermined amounts of time, this team will need its other starters – Spencer Strider, Charlie Morton and Bryce Elder – to stabilize the rotation.
“Well, we need the three guys that we got left to throw the ball well, really,” Snitker said. “We need them to eat up innings when their turn comes up. That’s going to end up being huge for us. And they have. They’ve done a good job, the three that are left.
Morton shut out the Rangers over 6-2/3 innings. He struck out 10 Rangers and only walked one.
Morton has a 2.85 ERA this season.
5. With Monday’s win, the Braves still have not lost five straight games since doing so from Sept. 25-30 in 2017. The Braves are the only team without a five-game losing streak since the start of 2018.
On Tuesday, they’ll recall Jared Shuster to start and hopefully give them a chance to take the series.
Stat to know
3 of 30 - Acuña has three of the 30 longest home runs in baseball this season. Only one player, San Francisco’s Mitch Haniger, even appears on the list twice.
“It feels good to do my job. Because the last time I was here – well, not the last time I was here, the last time I pitched (here) – was the World Series against the Dodgers and I let my team down. So that was nice to come here and not do that again.” – Morton, who allowed five runs over 4-1/3 innings in a game that was here because this ballpark was the neutral site for the World Series
The Braves’ offense will face right-hander Dane Dunning on Tuesday. First pitch is at 8:05 p.m. ET.