“They’ve meant a lot,” said starter Max Fried, who allowed one run over five innings. “With a couple guys going down, people needed to step up. They’ve been a big part of our offense so far. I can’t say enough. Three homers between them tonight. They definitely gave us the boost we need. Great clubhouse guys. They work hard every single day. They’re smart, approachable. They’ve been invaluable.”
Philadelphia took a 1-0 lead after a couple bloop hits against Fried in the first. Usually, that’d put the Braves in a tough spot, facing an early deficit against Phillies ace Aaron Nola. They wound up chasing the righty after 2-2/3 innings.
“I don’t remember him leaving a game that early ever against us,” manager Brian Snitker said of Nola, who was lifted later in the inning. “We had some good at-bats. We looked like our old selves tonight. Hitting the ball the other way and having long at-bats. I thought the approach was a lot better today.”
It started with d’Arnaud, who hit a two-run homer to give the Braves the lead with one down in the third. Ozuna followed with his own shot. Both balls landed in the fountain beyond center field – Ozuna’s traveled one foot farther (431) than d’Arnaud’s (430).
Ozuna later hit a three-run homer during the Braves’ seven-run fifth. He finished 3-for-5 with four RBIs.
“His approach is so advanced; a lot more advanced than I initially thought just calling a game against him,” d’Arnaud said of Ozuna. “He hits the ball so hard. He has power to all fields. He can hit homers, doubles to center, left, right. He puts together great at-bats, especially with runners in scoring position. He’s been a tremendous help to me as well. He’s answered any question I’ve had on approach or anything. He’s been a great teammate.”
Both d’Arnaud and Ozuna have met or exceeded expectations across 26 games. D’Arnaud has been hammering the ball, helping a Braves offense that hasn’t yet clicked due to circumstances surrounding Ronald Acuna, Ozzie Albies and Freddie Freeman. Ozuna has stepped right into the Josh Donaldson void and provided the Braves a proven clean-up hitter.
Over the winter, the Braves signed d’Arnaud to a two-year, $14 million deal. They signed Ozuna to a one-year, $18 million commitment. If the slugger continues this production, he should be in line for a nice multi-year deal following the season.
“They’re both really talented hitters,” Snitker said. “Travis has got some thunder in that thing, man. I’ve seen Ozuna for a long time. Hadn’t really seen Travis that much, very impressed with what he does offensively also.”
Notes from Friday:
- Top prospect Cristian Pache made his major-league debut, going 1-for-4. Pache played left field and hit ninth in the order. His first hit came in the sixth, when he snuck a ball through the right side of the infield against lefty Cole Irvin.
“It was cool he got his first hit,” Snitker said. “I’m sure that was a thrill for him, to be on that field and play in a major-league game. He’s a big leaguer now after working his way through the minor leagues. It wasn’t a real easy ride either for your opening day, having to face Nola. Welcome to the big leagues.”
- Johan Camargo, manning second in Albies’ absence, had two hits and two RBIs. It was a needed boost for Camargo, who’s been off to a slow start. He has 16 hits in his first 78 at-bats (.205).
“Camargo swung the bat well,” Snitker said. “That could be huge for us. I have to remind myself too, we’re 26 games into this (season). This would be very young in a real season where you wouldn’t even pay attention to what guys were doing yet because they wouldn’t have enough at-bats. Because of the crunch, everything gets rushed forward.”
- It wasn’t a smooth outing, but Fried’s Cy Young campaign trucked forward Friday. The southpaw allowed one run on five hits over five innings. He struck out five and walked two. His 1.32 ERA ranks second best in the National League behind Trevor Bauer’s 0.68.
Bad luck plagued Fried in the first, when some soft, perfectly placed hits resulted in the Phillies’ run. He pitched around a walk and double in the third. He also navigated a lead-off walk in the fourth and lead-off single in the fifth to prevent any additional scoring.
“It was making me upset, and Max actually calmed me down,” d’Arnaud said of the first inning. “He told me, ‘This happens. It’s part of the game.’ And he was ready to go out in the second inning and put up a zero. That’s exactly what he did.”
- Freeman looks like his normal self lately. The 30-year-old first baseman has a six-game hitting streak after going 1-for-2 with two walks Friday. Since Aug. 9, Freeman is 16-for-38 with seven extra-base hits. He’s drawn eight walks and struck out four times over that stretch.
- The Braves and Phillies continue their series Saturday when lefty Robbie Erlin, making his second start of the season, faces Zack Wheeler. It will be the second game of a stretch in which the Braves will face the Phillies six out of eight games.