ST. LOUIS – The Braves probably couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season.

After sweeping the Cardinals with Wednesday’s 5-2 victory, they are 5-1. Now, they head home to face the Padres for the home opener.

Five observations on the win:

1. Many pundits, media members and fans picked the Cardinals to win the National League Central division. You would not sound crazy if you predicted the Cardinals to make a deep run in October.

Their lineup is that good.

That’s what makes this sweep so impressive for these Braves.

“It gives us a lot of confidence,” Michael Harris II said. “That’s a great lineup, phenomenal lineup. Everybody in that lineup can hit, one through nine. So to come in and get three in a row, it gave us a good feeling. I guess it gives our pitchers some confidence (that) they could hold them to limited runs and we came up with three wins.”

Everyone expected the Braves to take care of business against the Nationals, and they took two of three.

The Cardinals posed a tougher test, and the Braves won all three games. They have an early 2 1/2-game lead in the NL East after the Brewers swept the Mets.

2. One theme from the series: Early offense.

The Braves scored in the first inning in all three games. They scored one run in Monday’s first inning, two in Tuesday’s first inning and three in Wednesday’s first inning.

“I think it’s always big,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “I never count our guys out when we’re coming from behind because I think we’re a dangerous team offensively and can eat up ground if we get behind. But it’s better than the other.”

The Braves held a lead after 26 of 27 innings in this series – the only exception being the first inning Monday, when each team scored a run and the score was tied heading to the second frame.

The Braves always came out firing, which made it feel like these games were hardly ever close. The team dominated this series from start to finish.

3. Braves starting pitchers held the Cardinals to four earned runs over 16-1/3 innings. Yes, the Cardinals lineup with Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, Willson Contreras and others.

They did it without Max Fried and Spencer Strider. And three of those four runs came from veteran Charlie Morton.

Dylan Dodd and Bryce Elder combined to allow one run over 11 innings.

“We have a lot of hidden gems down in our organization that don’t get the recognition on the rankings, the top prospects (lists) or whatever,” Harris said.

This series told us something about the Braves’ rotation depth.

“It’s pretty good,” Snitker said. “Like we said in the beginning, you need a lot of (starting pitchers) to get through a year, and we’ve already shown that.”

The Braves have already used six starters. When Kyle Wright comes off the injured list, it will be seven.

4. Elder entered spring training hoping to make the opening-day roster. But toward the end of camp, the Braves optioned him.

“I mean, I think it adds some motivation, just because I was hoping to start and break with the club, and when you don’t, obviously you’re not happy about it,” Elder said. “Whether I’m in the minor leagues or in the big leagues, I’m just going to kind of do the same thing and try to get people out.”

His positive attitude paid off Wednesday, when he shut out the Cardinals over six innings. He didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning, and gave up only two overall. He struck out six batters and walked three.

5. “It’s a crazy game,” Olson said of baseball. “Every day is different. Got to be able to flush it – the good and the bad – and show up the next time and do it.”

Olson was a good example of this.

On Tuesday, he struck out four times. Then he began Wednesday with two RBI doubles and a home run (his third of the season) in his first three at-bats. His three RBIs paced the Braves.

Stat to know

5 - This week, the Braves swept the Cardinals in St. Louis for the fifth time since Busch Stadium opened in 2006. The Braves last swept the Cardinals here in 2021.

Quotable

“My stuff’s my stuff. I’m not gonna change anything just because I’m up here,” he said. “I’m either gonna execute pitches and be who I am or I’m not. And so I think if I just be the best form of myself, it gives me the best opportunity.” – Elder on trusting his stuff

Up next

The Braves on Thursday will host their home opener against the Padres. Right-hander Strider will pitch for the Braves, while left-hander Blake Snell will take the ball for San Diego. First pitch is at 7:20 p.m.

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