The Braves continued to score runs in ridiculous quantities Monday night, routing the New York Mets, 12-3, to extend their recent streak of extraordinary offensive firepower.
The Braves have scored 90 runs in their past 11 games. They have scored 27 runs in their past two games. They have scored seven runs or more in eight of the past 11 games and fewer than five runs in only one of them. They lead the major leagues in just about every offensive category you can think of — runs, hits, home runs, RBI, on-base percentage and slugging percentage — since June 1.
So what happened Monday night at SunTrust Park — 12 runs on 16 hits, including three homers — was hardly a surprise.
“This lineup is … tough to navigate,” Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman was saying a few hours before the game. “You can’t pitch around anybody in this lineup. It’s (tough) from pitch one. If you throw a fastball over to Ronald (Acuna) for pitch one, it’s going to be gone.”
Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler didn’t throw a fastball over the plate to Acuna, the Braves’ leadoff batter, for pitch one. Instead, he threw an outside fastball that Acuna took. But on his fifth pitch of the night, with a 2-2 count, Wheeler threw Acuna a 92-mph fastball up and over the plate. And it was, as Freeman put it pregame, “gone.” Acuna hit it over the left-field wall, the 11th time in his brief career that he has homered as the first Braves hitter of a game.
The night ended even more forcefully than it began for the Braves’ offense: with back-to-back home runs by Brian McCann and Ozzie Albies in the eighth inning. That marked the seventh time this season the Braves had hit back-to-back homers.
Between them, catcher McCann and second baseman Albies — the Nos. 7 and 8 hitters in the deep Atlanta batting order — went 6-for-8 with six RBIs and four runs scored. McCann was 3-for-3, raising his average to .303, with two walks, two RBIs and two runs scored. Albies was 3-for-5, raising his average to .286, with four RBIs and two runs scored.
“I’ve been fortunate to play with some really good players, and this lineup stacks up with the best of them,” McCann, a 15-year MLB veteran, said after the game. “This is fun.”
With his three hits and two walks, McCann enjoyed his fourth career game of reaching base five or more times, all with the Braves. It was his first such game since June 12, 2009.
The Braves’ 90 runs in their past 11 games are the most they have scored in an 11-game period since 2006. They have won 10 times in the current 11-game stretch.
“We’re so talented from top to bottom, and we show up every night,” McCann said. “We don’t give an at-bat away. This is a special team.”
The Braves scored two runs in the first inning and three in the fifth inning Monday, but they led by only a 5-3 margin entering the bottom of the seventh. Then they erupted for four runs in that inning and three more in the eighth to blow the game open.
“It’s tough to come in here and face our lineup and our team whenever we get all three (facets) going,” said right fielder Nick Markakis, who had two hits and two RBIs. “... We’re in a good place right now, and we’ve just got to stay in that lane.”
Braves starting pitcher Mike Soroka pitched the first six innings, allowing three runs on six hits, and won his eighth consecutive decision. He was lifted from the game after just 68 pitches (49 strikes) because of a 15-minute rain delay. Manager Brian Snitker noted that after accounting for the the delay and the bottom of the sixth inning, Soroka would have gone at least 30 minutes between trips to the mound.
“I think every chance we get to maybe cut it short, that’s not a bad thing for him going forward with the long season,” Snitker said. “I just didn’t feel there was any point in pushing him right there.”
“If the rain delay didn’t happen, he probably would have gone nine tonight,” McCann said of Soroka.
But the story of this night, as of so many recent nights for the Braves, was the offense.
“Everything’s just hard-hit baseball after hard-hit baseball,” an appreciative Soroka said of the Braves’ hitting. “It’s contagious.”
“Pretty rare,” Snitker said of an offense having everyone clicking at the same time, as this one currently does. “You don’t see that very much. You just kind of ride it while you can, because you never know in this game.
“Go back out and try to do it again tomorrow.”
The opposing pitcher Tuesday night will be the Mets’ Jacob deGrom, last year’s National League Cy Young Award winner.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.