Darren O’Day, Will Smith, Chris Martin and Mark Melancon limited the Orioles to two hits over the next five innings. None of the Braves' six pitchers issued a walk. Baltimore scored its only run on a fielder’s choice that resulted in the second out of the ninth.
The vaunted Braves offense, which had 13 hits, added three insurance runs in the final frame. They nursed a two-run lead for most of the night thanks to Freddie Freeman’s RBI double and Adam Duvall’s solo shot.
“It’s very impressive,” catcher Travis d’Arnaud said about the offense. “I’ve been in some good offensive lineups, but this one is top tier. Day in and day out, you almost expect it every day. I’m really glad I’m a part of it and get to experience it with these guys as well.”
Notes from Tuesday:
- Duvall’s homer was his 15th, tying him for the National League lead with MVP candidates Fernando Tatis Jr. and Mookie Betts. That would’ve been unfathomable even last season, when Duvall spent much of the year slugging in Triple-A.
It took a while, but general manager Alex Anthopoulos' deadline move to acquire Duvall in July 2018 has paid dividends. It’s been especially apparent in September, where Duvall has 10 homers and 19 RBIs in 15 games.
- Freeman had three hits, extending his on-base streak to 31 games. It continued the longest such streak in the majors this season.
Freeman has hit safely in 28 of his last 29 games. Entering the night, he ranked first in RBIs (44) and extra-base hits (28), second in slugging (.643) and walks (35), third in hits (59) and fourth in average (.345). And he’s doing it for a first-place team, which should warrant serious MVP consideration.
“He’s so intelligent in the box,” d’Arnaud said. “A lot of the stuff he says, I didn’t imagine him thinking that way when I was calling a game against him. I sleep a lot better at night knowing I don’t have to call a game against him, as well.”
- Chasing Freeman in the RBI department is Marcell Ozuna, who’s second in the NL with 44. He went 2-for-4 with a walk, RBI and run scored Tuesday.
- Austin Riley had his first multi-hit game since Sept. 9. He went 2-for-4. While his team’s offense has surged, Riley has cooled down this month, hitting .230 with one homer and three RBIs in 15 games. It’s continued the hot-cold trend of his young career.
- The Braves trimmed their magic number to nine to secure their third consecutive NL East crown. The second-place Marlins lost to the Red Sox 2-0. The Braves host the Marlins next week.
Beyond the division race, the Braves are also competing with the Cubs for the No. 2 seed. The teams entered the day tied at 28-20. If they finish equal, the tiebreaker – interdivisional record – currently favors the Cubs.
- Left-hander Cole Hamels makes his long-awaited debut Wednesday, when he’ll face the Orioles in the series finale. Hamels will throw around 55-60 pitches and Josh Tomlin will follow.
The Braves will be off Thursday before completing their road trip with three games against the Mets.