WASHINGTON – Braves opponents beware: Ronald Acuña might be heating up.

He homered twice as the Braves defeated the Nationals 8-2 on Tuesday. More importantly, Atlanta is tied for first place in the National League East with the Mets, who lost to the Marlins.

Here are five observations on the Braves (97-58):

1. After Acuña sent a ball flying into the Washington night, he admired it and walked a couple steps, then flipped his bat, a touch of swagger for one of baseball’s flashiest players.

“It’s all natural,” Acuña said through interpreter Franco García. “I don’t plan it, it just happens.”

Acuña’s roll continued with two home runs in Tuesday’s win. It marked his second multi-homer game this season – the other was June 7 versus Oakland – and the ninth of his career.

The first homer: A 112 mph line drive that went 396 feet over the left-field wall.

The second: A 407-foot bomb that left the bat at 110.8 mph and sailed over the same wall.

In the fifth inning, Acuña’s solo homer followed one from Orlando Arcia as the Braves went back to back. In the seventh, the star outfielder extended Atlanta’s lead. He also made a nice shoestring catch late in the game.


Credit: ArLuther Lee

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Credit: ArLuther Lee

2. After last Friday’s loss in Philadelphia, the Braves fell to 2 1/2 games behind the Mets.

The cynical Braves fan probably thought the team’s division chase was over. The realistic fan believed the Braves may have a chance to catch the Mets over the weekend.

As it turned out, the optimistic fan’s hopes came to life.

Four games after that loss to the Phillies, the Braves caught the Mets – again. It is a testament to Atlanta’s ability to keep an even-keeled mindset.

“That’s just the way this thing goes,” manager Brian Snitker said. “We’ve been through those spells before and always seem to have a way of fighting out of it and coming back.”

At the beginning of the month, many pundits believed the Mets’ soft schedule would help them win the division. Instead, this has occurred: The Mets have lost three games to the Cubs, two to the Nationals and two to the Marlins.

The Braves moved into a first-place tie with the Mets earlier this month, then took sole possession of first place for a day. Atlanta has not gone away.

We’re still a couple days away from the start of the Braves-Mets series in Atlanta, but all eyes are turned toward it.

3. Perhaps there is a simple explanation for Eddie Rosario’s resurgence.

“It’s almost like I can feel October right around the corner,” Rosario, a postseason hero last year, said through García.

With Braves fans chanting his first name on the road, Rosario hit a two-run double in the sixth inning. He is on a six-game hitting streak, and is 6-for-24 with three doubles, one homer and three RBIs during that span.

Rosario has had a tough season. It began with the eye procedure, followed by struggles when he returned. But he stayed positive, and he might be coming around.

“It was difficult, it was really difficult,” Rosario said. “I didn’t feel like myself, I didn’t feel like the ballplayer that I know that I am, so I feel like I really had to persevere mentally, work hard, train even harder just to sort of get back to where I want to be.”

4. In the fourth inning, the Nationals, up two at the time, gave the Braves an extra out when they failed to get the third out of the inning on Matt Olson’s dribbler.

Well, Atlanta entered this contest leading the majors in two-out runs – and added to its total.

Michael Harris stung a 107.9 mph triple that scored two runs.

“Oh my God,” Snitker said of that play. “I don’t know that I’ve seen guys handcuff outfielders like he does. I’ve seen a lot of really good hitters. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anybody – just the explosion off his bat like that. …Man, that’s something else.”

5. Kyle Muller did his job.

In a spot start, Muller allowed two runs over 4 2/3 innings. He encountered a couple rough points, but he didn’t cough up the lead when his offense gave it to him.

“I felt good,” Muller said. “I thought I did a good job of settling in toward the end. Early, I still had some nerves, had some excitement. Just trying to get in my groove. I picked up the tempo as the game went on and felt a lot more comfortable.”

Stat to know

5 - Five of Orlando Arcia’s nine home runs this season have come at Nationals Park. Arcia, who homered again on Tuesday, is 11-for-21 with eight RBIs here in 2022.


“The playoffs are coming. Everything changes.”-Rosario

Up next

Jake Odorizzi will toe the rubber for Wednesday’s series finale, which begins at 7:05 p.m.