1. The Braves’ overall record – which always this season has been superior to many teams in the sport – hid a rough stretch.
From May 10-June 2, the Braves were 8-12. They patched together their rotation. At times, they couldn’t find big hits. There were uncharacteristic defensive miscues. Plus, they played a difficult part of the schedule.
Yet, they were still 33-24 after losing to Arizona on June 2.
And now, at 40-24, they are 16 games above .500 for the first time this season. They have the best record in the National League.
“As you amass games, and you get into that grind of the season, things have a way of working themselves out and you kind of identify yourself, and really who you are,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “I’ve always said: It takes about 40 games, I always feel, to kind of let things settle in and and then about this time of year, yeah, you should have a pretty good idea who you are.”
After Saturday, the Braves are a win away from tying their best win streak of the season. In April, they won eight in a row, which also gave them some nice cushion for whenever they fell into a rut.
“Makeup” is the baseball word for character.
The Braves have plenty of that.
“That’s a whole group full of high-makeup guys that are driven to succeed, I guess you can put it,” Snitker said. “I always say that they’re just so consistent in their work. They don’t let the bad last night affect what they’re going to do today.”
2. You always hear about the Braves’ chemistry. It’s impossible to quantify that. But president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos prioritizes it.
It seems a positive environment can turn losing streaks to win streaks, cold spells to heat waves.
Does chemistry translate to winning?
“Absolutely,” Jesse Chavez said. “What happens in (the clubhouse), we take out (to the field). And that’s the camaraderie we build in here. And if we can’t do that in here, we’re not gonna be able to do what we want to do out there between the lines for 27 outs and 162 (games).”
3. It’s difficult to find new ways to describe Ronald Acuña Jr.’s superiority over most other players in this sport.
“I would say that I’ve probably played my best baseball that I have throughout my big-league career,” Acuña said, through interpreter Franco García, of his 2023 season to this point. “Sure, I think I could be playing better. But that’s not my primary focus. The most important thing for me is to stay healthy.”
There’s more than this?
Because this has been really good. Acuña is batting .333 with a .975 OPS.
In the first inning, he doubled and scored. In the second inning, he launched a 413-foot, two-run home run. He later added a run-scoring double in the seventh inning.
Acuña scored or drove in four of the Braves’ six runs.
4. Holding a two-run lead, Jared Shuster served up consecutive singles to begin the sixth inning. Snitker left the dugout and went to pull him.
Enter Jesse Chavez, who can seemingly fix any mess.
Strikeout. Strikeout. Groundout.
“I think he sits down there and waits for the phone to ring, and he gets himself ready to pitch,” Snitker said. “It doesn’t matter if he’s cleaning up an inning, if he’s starting an inning. It was huge today that he went two innings.”
Versus Chavez, opponents are now 4-for-32 with runners in scoring position this season – a .125 batting average in those spots.
Chavez struck out three batters over two hitless innings. He has a 1.55 ERA over 29 innings, and has allowed only one earned run over his past 19 innings.
In the offseason, he signed a minor-league deal.
But, of course, he’s up here playing a major role for the Braves.
“That’s been my career, minor-league deals and stuff like that,” Chavez said. “Just always been the seventh guy in the bullpen just trying to help out any way I can. If you’re available, that’s the best ability — availability. That’s what I was told early on, and every day I try to make myself available for the team in any way I can come in and contribute.”
5. In the second inning, Marcell Ozuna crushed a two-run home run – his 13th homer of the season.
Since May 1, his 11 homers are two shy of the NL lead over that span. And during that time, he ranks fifth in the league with 27 RBIs (the team lead in this span).
Stat to know
40 - The Braves on Saturday reached 40 wins. This is the eighth time in the modern era (since 1900) that the franchise has won 40 games in its first 64 contests or fewer.
“It’s crazy. I told Charlie (Morton), ‘I don’t know which one of you 39-year-olds amaze me most.’ He’s something else.” – Snitker on Chavez
Braves right-hander Bryce Elder will face Nationals righty Trevor Williams in Sunday’s series finale, which begins at 1:35 p.m.