This weekend, they swept Milwaukee, which entered as the National League Central’s first-place team. Atlanta won, 8-6, on Sunday to take all three.
1. Multiple times on Sunday, the Braves had shaky innings or difficult moments. They made a few mistakes.
They appeared to only become stronger.
“We just trust in each other,” Austin Riley said. “We believe in each and every one of these guys in this clubhouse, and know that it’s going to take until the final out to put us away. No panic. Just play our game and see what happens at the end, and we were able to come through in that one.”
In the top of the first inning, the Brewers scored a run. In the bottom half, Riley responded with a two-run homer.
In the third, Milwaukee scored twice. Matt Olson then launched a three-run homer in the bottom half.
In the bottom of the seventh, Orlando Arcia was too aggressive on the bases and was thrown out at third inning, which stunted a potential rally. An inning later, Olson blasted his second homer.
“They’re three good wins against a really good club, so it was good,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “We kind of shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times today, and just kept roaring back. I think it’s just a testament to how these guys are. Nothing fazes them. … We can put a bad inning behind us and win the next one.”
2. Fans and media have often asked whether Olson would successfully fill Freddie Freeman’s void. Yes, Freeman is still a star.
But if you look at the MLB leaderboard, you cannot miss Olson’s name.
His 35 home runs are second in the sport. His 88 RBIs are the most in baseball. His .945 OPS ranks fourth among qualified hitters.
“He’s a monster,” Ozuna said. “He can hit the ball way far and we all know that he can do more than that. It’s no surprise.”
Olson on Sunday tallied his 19th career multi-homer game – and sixth (!) of the season. Since Olson debuted in 2017, only six players have recorded more multi-homer games.
Since the end of play on June 28, Olson hasn’t had an OPS lower than .921.
“It’s been a lot more consistent, for sure,” he said of his play. “I think you look at the course of the season, you’re going to find pockets where it’s not how you like it, and you’re going to find pockets where it’s a little more toward what you want. The goal is to kind of steadily progress throughout the season, and look back and be happy with it. I feel like I’ve been putting together better at-bats, missing less pitches and seeing some more results because of it.”
3. The main factor in the Braves’ first-inning success is difficult to pinpoint. After all, these sorts of specific statistical anomalies can be quite random.
But in this case, do the Braves simply deserve credit for being prepared to play and then starting aggressively?
“I guess that’s as good of a way to put it as any,” Snitker said. " They are. They’re ready to go.”
The Braves’ 109 first-inning runs lead the majors this season. The franchise record for first-inning runs is 127, accomplished by the 1999 team. The 2000 Cardinals hold the NL record for first-inning runs, with 147.
“We come in ready to swing and we come in ready to do damage, and we’re a unit,” Marcell Ozuna said. “All of those nine guys we have out there, we’re a unit. If someone doesn’t do it, somebody (else) is going to do it.”
4. AJ Smith-Shawver was not dominant, but he went five innings and only permitted three runs.
Smith-Shawver is one of 12 pitchers to start a game for the Braves this season – 15 if you count three relievers used as openers in bullpen games.
“It’s crazy, actually,” Olson said of Atlanta’s depth. “It’s not a common thing, really. Normally – maybe not 100 percent of the time – around the league, if you have to bring a guy from Triple A, the (opposing) lineup is wanting to get that guy. Every guy that we’ve brought up has come in and given us really quality innings. AJ especially is not a comfy at-bat, with the stuff that he has. It’s amazing what they’ve been able to do.”
5. After struggling in July, Ozuna hit four homers in three games this weekend.
In the bottom of the sixth, he tied the game with a solo home run.
Stat to know
24-6 - The Braves on Sunday improved to 24-6 against teams from the NL Central and AL Central divisions.
“I think we’ve been playing better here. Right out of the break, I thought it wasn’t our best ball. But that’s a good team over there, they’ve got a lot of good arms and a solid lineup, too. To be able to get that sweep there was nice.”-Olson
Charlie Morton will start Monday’s series opener versus the Angels. Griffin Canning will pitch for Los Angeles in a game that begins at 7:20 p.m.