“Swing the bat,” Ozuna said Arcia told him. “Don’t get frustrated because he’s throwing a hard sinker.”
Ozuna took the first pitch, a sinker, because he felt it was low. He said he voiced that to the home-plate umpire, but the umpire told him it was a strike.
So, Ozuna readied for the next pitch.
This time, he saw a 93-mph slider toward the bottom of the zone and cranked a 421-foot, two-run home run that gave the Braves a two-run lead.
In the top half of the inning, A.J. Minter gave up a game-tying homer as the Dodgers had successfully mounted a three-run comeback. But Ozuna picked him up and pulverized the deciding homer.
Ozuna has struggled, but he always has the ability to win a game with one swing.
“I’ve seen him do a lot of special things offensively for a lot of years when playing against him and having him here,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “You just never know when.”
Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com
Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com
2. Perhaps the best compliment you can offer a starting pitcher is this: When he’s on the mound, you expect to win.
Max Fried has reached this level.
Fried is the Braves’ ace. He is a dependable anchor at the top of their rotation.
“I think he’s the best left-hander in the game,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Just where he’s at right now, nothing to take away from our guys, but as far as his ability to go three times through the lineup, the pitch mix. It’s electric stuff. ... He pitches to all quadrants. And he always seems to bring out his best against us.”
Fried on Saturday allowed two runs over 6 2/3 innings. In two starts versus the Dodgers this season, Fried has surrendered only those two runs over 13 2/3 frames.
“You can’t take a pitch off,” Fried said of facing the Dodgers. “You have to keep making quality pitches and try to keep them off balance. They have unbelievable approaches, so you just have to try to do your best to just navigate around and stay away from hard contact. Just try to make a good, quality pitch to try to get an out.”
3. The Braves led by a run in the seventh inning, but the Dodgers loaded the bases. They looked for the big hit that would give them the lead. All eyes turned toward the matchup between the hitter and pitcher.
Freddie Freeman versus Will Smith.
Smith threw Freeman four sliders, and Freeman swung through the fourth for a strikeout.
“It’s just amazing how that thing played out, too,” Snitker said. “All of the sudden, here comes Freddie with the bases loaded. Will’s got some big, big outs for us over the last few years. That was obviously one of the biggest spots of the game right there.”
Of the at-bat, Freeman said: “Just swung at a 0-0 slider in the dirt, had a call go against me, changed the at-bat. So I’ve got to go in protect mode, and he threw another good slider.”
4. There is no shortage of storylines in this year’s Dodgers-Braves matchups.
Another one: Kenley Jansen versus his former team.
It happened once in April, and came around again on Saturday. The Braves led by two runs. They summoned one of the game’s best closers.
He knew the Dodgers, but they knew him.
Jansen struck out the side to earn his 20th save of the season.
“That was some electric stuff right there,” Fried said.
5. In the third inning, Ronald Acuña fouled a ball off his left foot. Eventually, Guillermo Heredia replaced Acuña in right field for the top of the ninth.
Snitker said Acuña’s foot was “really sore.” The club didn’t want to take any chances, but Snitker later added he didn’t believe it was bad enough to be a fracture. When reporters spoke with Snitker, the Braves were evaluating Acuña.
“Didn’t want him coming out of the box hurting anything else, so we’ll see where he’s at in the morning,” Snitker said.
Stat to know
11 of 13 - The Braves lost in Fried’s first two starts of the season, but have won 11 of 13 since.
“You know what you’re going to get with them. They’ve been at the top of every (set of) standings for the last however many years. They’re always going to bring it. They have a great chance to win that day, so you know you have to bring your A-game, and just try to go out there and compete the best you can.” - Fried on battling the Dodgers
In Sunday’s series finale, Spencer Strider faces Dodgers right-hander Tony Gonsolin. The game begins at 7 p.m. and will be on ESPN.