The Braves’ newcomers came through again Friday, helping the team to a 6-5 victory over the MLB-best Giants in the series opener at Truist Park. The game was delayed 35 minutes in the first inning due to rain but was completed without issue afterwards.
Here are five takeaways from Friday:
1. Jorge Soler’s offense was instrumental for the Braves again. Soler smashed a three-run homer off Giants reliever Zack Littell in the seventh, flipping a 4-3 deficit into a 6-4 advantage. It was his sixth homer as a Brave and the second time in 10 days he put the Braves ahead late (Soler had the go-ahead RBI single in the eighth inning of a 2-0 win over Miami on Aug. 17).
Soler seemed to undergo an offensive revival toward the end of his tenure with the Royals. His production came with him to the Braves, where he’s become a valuable presence in the second spot in the order.
“It feels really good,” Soler said via team interpreter Franco Garcia. “Ever since I got traded over here, I’ve just been trying to give my best effort to help the team win in any way I can. I’m glad things have been working out but most of all I’m glad the team is winning. That’s been fantastic.”
2. The Giants closed the gap in the ninth with Wilmer Flores’ homer off Will Smith. With two outs in the frame, former Brave Tommy La Stella smacked a ball that looked like it might clear the right-field wall, or at least bounce off it.
But outfielder Joc Pederson made a phenomenal leaping grab, catching the ball in the palm of his glove while colliding with the wall. Pederson hung on for the final out, which was confirmed via replay.
“I did my best (Packers receiver) Davante Adams impression,” Pederson said. “Went up for a ball in the end zone and brought it down. It was a catch (Pederson did a referee’s catch gesture).”
Soler called it an “incredible play,” adding: “I saw him make the play, everybody’s hands went up. We all thought the same thing everyone else thought, that as soon as he hit the deck, that ball was going to pop out. But then he raised his glove and he had the ball in there, so it was all good.”
3. Starter Max Fried allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits over six innings. The biggest blow was a two-run homer by South Georgia native and long-time Giants catcher Buster Posey, which put San Francisco up 2-0 in the first. It marked the most runs Fried had surrendered in an outing since July 23, when the Phillies struck him for four runs. He’d given up one or no runs in four of his past five outings.
4. Giants starter Kevin Gausman, a former Brave who helped the franchise win its 2018 division title as a trade-deadline acquisition, has reached new heights in San Francisco. Gausman owns a 2.49 ERA over 26 starts after holding the Braves to two runs on six hits over six innings. Gausman retired the final 11 hitters he faced.
“Kevin was an unbelievable teammate,” Fried said. “I couldn’t be happier for him to find a new setting and take off with how talented he is. He was nothing but really nice and gracious over here, especially me as a really young guy. I leaned on him a lot. So to be able to see him have success and throw the way he’s throwing, it’s really awesome to see.”
5. Braves slugger Adam Duvall homered off Gausman in the second. It was Duvall’s 28th homer and sixth in 24 games back with the Braves.
Braves 6, Giants 5 (box score)
Stat to know
33 (Soler and Duvall have combined for 33 RBIs since joining the Braves at the July 30 trade deadline.)
“It’s like Willie Stargell said, you throw that ball up, all they have to do is hit it.” – Snitker on Soler’s homer
Atlanta hip hop legend (and Savannah native) Big Boi announced the Braves’ starting lineup before first pitch.
The Braves and Giants will play again Saturday at 7:20 p.m. when Huascar Ynoa (4-3, 2.89) faces Logan Webb (7-3, 2.84).