This time, the lift came from someone who badly needed a game like this: Michael Harris II.
He provided the biggest punches in the Braves’ 7-5 win over the Mets on Wednesday at Truist Park. Atlanta has won four in a row, including the first two in this series.
1. Before Harris went up for his final at-bat of Tuesday’s game, teammate Marcell Ozuna gave him an important pep talk in the dugout tunnel.
“Hey, you’re the best center fielder in the league – not even in the league, in (all of) MLB,” Ozuna said he told Harris. “So you gotta trust yourself. Since now, your season starts. Don’t worry about anything in the past, earlier this season. Don’t worry about anything in the past. Forget about everything and start the season now.”
Harris lined out to left field in that eighth-inning at-bat. But since that conversation, Harris has felt different at the plate.
In Wednesday’s eighth inning, Harris crushed a go-ahead, two-run home run to straightaway center field off Adam Ottavino that traveled an estimated 443 feet.
“I mean, when I first hit it, I was like, ‘Ah, that felt good,’” Harris said. “You don’t really feel it off the bat when you hit the sweet spot.”
Harris went 3-for-4 and finished a triple shy of the cycle. In the sixth inning, he scorched a game-tying double. In the third inning, he laid down a bunt single when he saw the third baseman move back.
It all started with that talk.
“He was just reminding me that I have the potential to be one of the better players in the league and try to believe in myself, and go out there and not worry about any mechanical things,” Harris said. “Just go out and play.”
2. Harris entered this game batting .163 with a .490 OPS. He hasn’t looked like himself.
Then he dropped down that perfect bunt.
“Something little – it’s not little, it’s hard to do, but it’s the kind of thing that can get you off the mat and get you going, and it kind of did,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.
Then he tied the game. And later, he gave the Braves the lead.
“All these guys are better with the adversity they deal with,” Snitker said. “Some of them never had it until they get here. Adversity and struggle is part of this business. And you’re never going to stay away from it. The entire time you play, you’re going to have it, no matter what. No matter who you are in this game, you’re never going to completely figure it out, never be without another hill to climb.”
Before Wednesday, Harris had collected a hit in only 18 of his 39 games this season. He tallied multiple hits only twice.
And he didn’t have a three-hit game – until Wednesday.
“Incredible,” Ronald Acuña Jr. said of Harris, through interpreter Franco García. “And he’s gonna have a great season. Things are going to start going his way and they’re gonna keep going his way. It’s a long season and he’s getting going, so things are going to start going his way.”
3. Trailing by three, the Braves came back – again. And they did it against Mets ace Max Scherzer.
In the fifth inning, Sean Murphy blasted a two-run shot. In the sixth, Harris doubled home a run before Acuña followed with a single that gave Atlanta the lead.
Eventually, Harris played hero again.
“We just have the fight and we don’t want to quit it until the umpires are off the field and the fans are walking out,” Harris said. “We don’t have a whistle but we play to the whistle.”
The Braves scored all seven of their runs with two outs.
In the field, Acuña made a leaping catch at the wall to save multiple runs, and Harris made a nice catch to prevent an extra-base hit.
4. Before this, Scherzer had allowed only three runs on 16 hits over his last four starts.
The Braves got him for five runs on 11 hits over 5 1/3 innings.
Five of those hits were infield knocks, and it helped the Braves score a run in the fourth.
“When you don’t strike out and you put it in play, you have a chance to do something really good, and get a hit,” Snitker said. “Just the value of putting the ball in play. I think especially now without the shift and all, it’s big.”
5. Before Kirby Yates let in a run in the seventh, the Braves’ bullpen had a scoreless streak of 17 1/3 innings, the longest active run in the majors.
The group is beginning to get on a nice roll.
Stat to know
579 - Wednesday marked the 579th victory of Snitker’s career, which tied him with George Stallings for the third-most wins by a manager in franchise history.
“This whole team’s tenacity is a difference-maker in a lot of games – that they’re never out of the game. If they got an out and a strike left, as we showed the other day, they have a chance to win a game, and they’ve been like that for a long time.”-Snitker
Two aces face off on Thursday, as Spencer Strider and Justin Verlander will go against one another in the series finale, which begins at 7:20 p.m.