Homers, Ian Anderson lead Braves past Rangers in series opener

Atlanta Braves third base coach Ron Washington reacts after Braves' William Contreras hit a solo home run against the Texas Rangers during the fourth inning of a baseball game Friday, April 29, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Credit: AP

Combined ShapeCaption
Atlanta Braves third base coach Ron Washington reacts after Braves' William Contreras hit a solo home run against the Texas Rangers during the fourth inning of a baseball game Friday, April 29, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Credit: AP

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Braves on Friday played a complete game – with many aspects to highlight – as they beat the Rangers, 6-3, at Globe Life Field.

ExploreThe AJC's complete coverage on the Braves

Here are five observations on Atlanta (10-11) after the win.

1. Travis Demeritte lined a ball to center field. Adolis Garcia ran back, but quickly realized he had misjudged it, so he charged forward and dove for it.

Once Garcia went down and the ball got away, Demeritte thought: “All right, I’m going for it. We got this.”

He raced around third and slid head first across home plate. With outstretched arms and legs, he stayed on the ground for a couple seconds after his inside-the-park home run.

“I was trying to catch my breath,” he said, laughing. “I was exhausted.”

Combined ShapeCaption
Atlanta Braves' Travis Demeritte walks to the dugout after hitting an inside-the-park home run against the Texas Rangers during the third inning of a baseball game Friday, April 29, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Credit: AP

Atlanta Braves' Travis Demeritte walks to the dugout after hitting an inside-the-park home run against the Texas Rangers during the third inning of a baseball game Friday, April 29, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Credit: AP

Combined ShapeCaption
Atlanta Braves' Travis Demeritte walks to the dugout after hitting an inside-the-park home run against the Texas Rangers during the third inning of a baseball game Friday, April 29, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

In Ronald Acuña’s absence, Demeritte hit leadoff and collected two hits and a walk. He continued making the most of his opportunity as he has proven to be a competent player at the plate, in the outfield and on the bases.

He made history in the victory: He is the first player to hit an inside-the-park home run, regular season or postseason, at Globe Life Field, which opened in 2020.

“Oh, that’s awesome,” he said. “I think that’s pretty special to me to hear that. They all count the same to me. In or out, it doesn’t really matter. But that’s pretty cool to hear.”

ExploreBraves’ third-base coach Ron Washington proud of years managing Rangers

2. William Contreras announced his arrival back to the majors with something he’d never done before: Hit two home runs in a big-league game.

In the fourth inning, he hit a 429-foot solo shot off Brock Burke. Two innings later, he hit a ball 435 feet off Albert Abreu. The first blast left the bat at 107 mph, per Baseball Savant, and the second had a 110-mph exit velocity.

With Manny Piña recovering from left wrist inflammation, Contreras displayed the pop the Braves know is in his bat. He also called a great game behind the plate.

“The guy has unbelievable pop in his bat,” Demeritte said. “He can call a great game also, be a good defensive catcher, strong arm behind the plate. He just has all the tools you desire in a catcher.”

Added manager Brian Snitker: “The kid is tooled up. He’s got skills out the kazoo.”

Combined ShapeCaption
Atlanta Braves' William Contreras reacts after hitting a solo home run, his second of the day, against the Texas Rangers during the sixth inning of a baseball game April 29, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Credit: AP

Atlanta Braves' William Contreras reacts after hitting a solo home run, his second of the day, against the Texas Rangers during the sixth inning of a baseball game April 29, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Credit: AP

Combined ShapeCaption
Atlanta Braves' William Contreras reacts after hitting a solo home run, his second of the day, against the Texas Rangers during the sixth inning of a baseball game April 29, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

3. Ian Anderson seemed to be in control.

He allowed two runs on three hits over six innings. He walked two, but struck out five. He didn’t fight himself.

“I feel like I was staying behind the ball, staying over the rubber, giving myself a chance to kind of get down the mound,” Anderson said. “I think the command was a lot better tonight.”

Garcia launched a solo homer off Anderson in the bottom of the second inning, but the righty pitched well otherwise. He induced 11 groundouts.

Of 90 pitches, Anderson threw 44 fastballs and 26 changeups.

“Felt like I was pounding the zone,” he said.

Combined ShapeCaption
Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Ian Anderson throws against the Texas Rangers during the first inning of a baseball game Friday, April 29, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Credit: AP

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Ian Anderson throws against the Texas Rangers during the first inning of a baseball game Friday, April 29, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Credit: AP

Combined ShapeCaption
Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Ian Anderson throws against the Texas Rangers during the first inning of a baseball game Friday, April 29, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

4. Anderson appears to be settling into the season. It appears time and a couple extra starts might have been all he needed to find a rhythm.

“I think that’s a lot of it,” he said. “I think sometimes you come into the season, even in a normal season, you try to be better than you were last year, do a little too much. We all kind of fall victim to that and it’s obviously sped up and exaggerated a little bit with the shortened spring training and how long we played into the season last year.”

5. Austin Riley isn’t slowing down.

In the first inning, he smoked a 424-foot home run. In the ninth, he doubled.

Riley is batting .282 with a .947 on-base plus slugging percentage. He has not dropped off from last season, when he finished seventh in NL MVP voting.

“Just confidence,” Snitker said. “He believes in himself, believes he belongs and he’s a really good player.”

Braves 6, Rangers 3

Stat to know

28 - After hitting four more home runs on Friday, the Braves have 28 this season. They are tied for second in the majors in home runs (with Toronto) and they have the most in the NL by six.

Quotable

“It’s a credit to William (Contreras) that when we sent him down, he went down there and worked his tail off and stayed ready.” - Snitker on how Contreras responded to being optioned to Triple A earlier this month

Up next

Braves right-hander Bryce Elder will face Rangers right-hander Dane Dunning in Saturday’s game, which begins at 7:05 p.m. ET.