1. A day after the bottom of the lineup led the Braves to a 5-1 victory Tuesday night, the team’s stars came through in a big way Wednesday.
Ronald Acuña Jr was the leader, going 3-4 with a home run and three RBIs. He scored four runs and finished a triple short of the cycle.
“He’s just a really good player,” manager Brian Snitker said. “We’re a different team when he’s at the top there making things happen, that’s for sure.”
His homer, a three-run shot in the third, gave the Braves a lead they never relinquished.
Fellow All-Stars Matt Olson and Austin Riley put the game out of reach. The pair hit back-to-back home runs in the fourth, punctuating a six-run inning. It was the sixth time this season that the pair have combined for back-to-back home runs.
“You’ve got to talk to him, he’s got the hard part (the second homer),” Riley said. “I’m just trying to go out there and put a solid swing on the ball, and he seems to follow suit right after. Not much to say other than it’s impressive on his part.”
Riley was reminded that they’d switched and he’d followed Olson’s home runs with his own twice this season. He attributed his own success to luck.
2. While Acuña and Co. had most of the big hits, the bottom of the lineup provided the spark. The 7-8-9 trio of Eddie Rosario, Orlando Arcia and Michael Harris II scored six of the Braves’ 12 runs.
Harris led from the back. He went 3-4 with a double, adding two RBIs. He scored all three times he reached base.
“We just feel like we’re happy with anybody at the plate,” Olson said. “That’s the sign of a good team.”
3. Yonny Chirinos was solid in his second start as a Brave, pitching into the sixth inning and allowing three runs on six hits. He gave up singles to the first two batters to reach in the sixth before he was pulled, and reliever Michael Tonkin allowed both to score.
Overall, Chirinos was sharper than in his Braves debut in Milwaukee. He struck out five, his most since 2019.
He was happy with his performance postgame.
“I’m really pleased with how comfortable I’m feeling on the mound taking into consideration that it’s been almost two years since I’ve gotten regular playing time,” Chirinos said through Braves director of player relations Franco Garcia. “So I’m really happy with that, and I’m happy with the outing in the start today. I think the results are only going to get better from here on out.”
Whether there’s room for Chirinos in the rotation is to be seen. Fried’s return means there’s no clear spot for Chirinos, but Chirinos pitched well enough to make his next start in the rotation if needed.
4. The Braves took two out of three against the Angels. A large part of that was because they held Shohei Ohtani in check. Ohtani hit .500 (5-10) over the series, but he was held without an extra-base hit.
The Braves minimized the amount of damage Ohtani could do. On Wednesday, Ohtani came to the plate with a runner on once. Over the series, Ohtani led off an inning six times.
“We didn’t get pigeonholed to pitching to him with a lot of guys on, which is huge,” Snitker said. “Having him leading off, you just kind of breathe a sigh of relief because he’s such a force. I’m looking at my lineup, just (wondering) ‘Where’s that? How many more (batters until he’s up)?’ You’re very aware of that man.”
5. The Braves came into Atlanta limping, at least by their lofty standards. They had lost eight of 12 and dropped a two-game series to the Red Sox.
All is right in Braves world again. They’ve won five of six and looked dominant in most of their wins. Fried’s return after nearly three months on the injured list is an added boost to a team that could use the pitching, but barely needs the momentum.
“It’s awesome,” Snitker said. “Can’t wait to get him out there.”
“That’s like making two really big trades for us” – Snitker, on getting Fried and AJ Minter back from injury
Stat to know:
13 – The Braves lead the league in back-to-back home runs with 13. That tally is the second-most in franchise history, trailing only the 16 in 2019.
The Braves are off Thursday. They begin a three-game series against the Cubs in Chicago at 2:20 p.m. EDT Friday. Fried (2-1, 2.09 ERA) is scheduled to return against a Cubs pitcher to be determined.