PHILADELPHIA – The Braves on Tuesday opened a series with a 5-3 win over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
Atlanta is 43-32.
Here are five observations:
1. On a day when the baseball world discussed Freddie Freeman’s fluid representation situation, the Braves’ current first baseman blasted two home runs.
In the top of the eighth inning, right after the Phillies tied the game with a seventh-inning homer, Matt Olson drove a ball 395 feet into the seats in right-center field off Phillies reliever Andrew Bellatti. It appeared as if the Phillies might have grabbed the momentum, but Olson put the Braves ahead again.
“I think you remember the bigger-spot (homers) a little more,” Olson said. “That’s the name of the game. If it’s helping out the team a little more, it should mean a little more to you.
In the first inning, Olson homered to give the Braves a two-run lead.
He has two multi-homer games as a Brave and 13 in his career.
2. Entering Tuesday, Phillies starter Zack Wheeler had allowed three only home runs in 74 2/3 innings this season.
The Braves launched back-to-back homers – the first from Travis d’Arnaud, the second from Olson – in the game’s first 12 pitches. This marked the seventh time the Braves have gone back to back this season.
“I think for the most part, Wheeler’s pretty aggressive,” Olson said. “He’s got really good stuff, so he’s coming at you. … You know he’s going to come at you. He’s not one to beat around the bush. With his stuff, it makes sense. Just wanted to get something in the zone and put the barrel on it.”
The Braves needed this start to the game. Wheeler, who entered with a 2.77 ERA, had not allowed more than one home run in any of his 13 starts to this point. The Braves only scored one more run – on d’Arnaud’s RBI single in the third inning – against Wheeler, who went 6 1/3 innings.
He settled in after the Braves’ homers, which is why it was crucial that they got to him early.
“It’s going to happen once in a while but most of the time, you’re not going out putting up eight, 10 runs against him,” Olson said. “You got to kind of scratch and claw a little bit.”
In the top of the ninth, Adam Duvall lined a ball into the left-field corner that scored Orlando Arcia from first base to give the Braves a two-run lead.
3. Charlie Morton allowed seven hits and walked four. There was lots of activity on the bases.
“If I smoked,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said jokingly, “I would’ve went through a pack of cigarettes today.”
But he only allowed two runs. And you could argue one of them wasn’t his fault: In the sixth inning, Marcell Ozuna tried to make a sliding catch on a blooper and missed, which turned into a triple and put the runner in position to score on a groundout.
Morton and the Braves did a nice job of controlling the traffic.
In the second inning, Morton picked off a runner at first base. In the third, Duvall made a sliding catch that turned into a double play when the Braves tagged out a baserunner. In the fourth, with runners at first and second, Morton retired consecutive Phillies to escape unscathed. In the sixth, Michael Harris cut off a ball in the gap that would’ve scored a run.
“As we’ve seen, it can be little things that help you win a game,” Snitker said. “A matter of inches at times, as we’ve seen recently. All those things, when you’re playing these tight games like that, are big.”
4. In his career, Olson has five hits at Citizens Bank Park.
All five are home runs.
“I don’t know,” Olson said, with a smile, when asked why he hits so well here. “The ball does go pretty good here compared to other places. I don’t think there’s anything specific there.”
In his career, Olson had been 3-for-12 with three home runs and four RBIs over three games at this ballpark. Olson, who had only played for Oakland, is here for just the second time.
5. In New York, the Mets lost. The Braves, who pulled out a tight road victory, are only four games back of the East leaders.
Atlanta hasn’t been closer than four games behind the Mets since April 20, when it was 3 1/2 back.
Braves 5, Phillies 3
Stat to know
41 - Olson ranks fourth in baseball with 41 extra-base hits.
“Maybe there’s a game where he doesn’t get a hit or there’s a stretch where he’s not where he wants to be. You can’t tell. You really can’t tell. You look at him and he’s solid. I think he knows that he’s a big part of the team, on and off the field. He has a really good clubhouse presence.” - Morton on Olson
Kyle Wright starts Wednesday’s game, which begins at 7:05 p.m. The Phillies’ starter is lefty Ranger Suarez.
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