MIAMI – William Contreras homered twice to lead the Braves to a 4-3 victory over the Marlins on Saturday at loanDepot park. With the win, the Braves took a road series for the first time this season.
Here are five observations on Atlanta (19-21):
1. When Contreras and his teammates arrived at the ballpark on Friday, he joked: “What would happen if William Contreras hit two home runs tonight?”
He said the same thing on Saturday. This time, Orlando Arcia had something to add.
“It’s not what would happen,” Arcia said, “it’s happening tonight.”
And then the 24-year-old Contreras notched his second multi-homer game of the season. He has eight hits this season, and six are home runs. Those six homers are tied with the Royals’ Salvador Perez for the most by a catcher in the majors. Perez has played in 34 games, while Contreras has played 10.
“I was just looking for a pitch to hit,” Contreras said through interpreter Franco García. “It was kind of a see ball, hit ball mentality.”
Contreras has made the most of the increased playing time due to Manny Piña being out for the season with a wrist injury.
2. You might not believe it until you look them up yourself, but both of Contreras’ home runs were nearly identical.
Both were solo blasts. Both came on full counts. Both traveled an estimated 394 feet. Both went out toward the visitors’ bullpen in right-center field.
Contreras’ first homer, which came in the fifth, began the game’s scoring. His second, in the seventh, gave the Braves a three-run lead.
3. Kyle Wright threw 30 pitches in a first inning during which the Marlins loaded the bases.
Wright went five scoreless innings, only allowing two hits.
It’s remarkable that both statements are true. But this is the new Kyle Wright: calm, composed and in control as his natural talent finally takes center stage.
He struggled in the first inning, but turned it into the latest example of his turnaround during a breakout season. He never spiraled. He simply continued pitching. After the 30-pitch first frame, he required 61 to throw the final four.
Wright said that when he exited, manager Brian Snitker told him: “Look man, a couple years ago, that could’ve blown up on you.”
Whereas Wright allowed some trouble to undo him in a blow-up inning versus Boston a couple starts ago, he escaped trouble in the first inning here. And he only allowed one hit after the first. He pitched clean innings in the third and fifth as he held the Marlins scoreless. His ERA is now 2.49.
“I feel like this was kind of similar in the same way (to the Boston start), but I was able to put up some zeroes instead,” Wright said.
4. Pitching for the first time since blowing his first save with the Braves, Kenley Jansen hung on for the win.
With two outs, he walked a batter. The Marlins collected an infield single and a softly hit, run-scoring double. But with runners on second and third, Jansen struck out World Series hero Jorge Soler to end the game.
Jansen has 360 career saves.
“I’m sure not all of them were pretty and not all of them were real clean,” Snitker said. “In order to get that many, you better be able to weather the storms like he does, and he’s got another gear, too, when he gets in trouble that he can reach back and get.”
5. Ronald Acuña’s bat often ends up leading highlight tapes and conversations, but he has changed games with his speed since he returned after fully recovering from a torn ACL.
In the sixth inning, Acuña stole his eighth base, advanced to third on a groundout and scored on Marcell Ozuna’s single.
Acuña is 8-for-8 in stolen bases in only 14 games. This is the first time in his career that he has stolen eight bases without being caught in a span of 14 games in a single season.
“He’s just such an exciting player,” Wright said. “So much attention gets put on him, so I feel like he helps tremendously on offense.”
Since 2000, the only other Braves to accomplish this are Rafael Furcal (eight times), Ender Inciarte (three), Mallex Smith (three) and Michael Bourn (one).
Braves 4, Marlins 3
Stat to know
7 - Since 2000, Contreras is only the seventh catcher in baseball to hit at least six home runs in the span of 10 games.
“He just told me, ‘Stay focused, keep doing your work, don’t change, don’t let anyone get in your way, don’t let anyone stop you, keep doing what you’ve got to do.’” - William Contreras on what his brother Wilson, the Cubs’ catcher, told him about making the most of the increased playing time
Braves righty Ian Anderson takes the mound versus Marlins righty Sandy Alcantara in the series finale, which begins at 1:40 p.m. on Sunday.
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