Ozzie Albies’ first career hit took even him by surprise.
Down 7-1 in the ninth inning Thursday, Albies blasted a three-run homer to left-center off Dodgers pitcher Tony Cingrani’s fastball. It was one of the few highlights in the Braves’ 7-4 loss.
The home run was the first career hit in the third career game for the Braves’ new second baseman.
“I didn’t expect that one,” Albies said. “But I’m happy I made it, got the first home run out of the way. … When I hit it, I was like, I saw it going, I was like ‘It’s going to carry,’ so I felt like it was going out.”
The ball just missed the gloves of leaping Kike Hernandez and Chris Taylor. It looked to possibly be caught, but just slipped past the two outfielders as they collided together on the way down.
“Yeah, he was throwing a 97-mph fastball,” Albies said. “And I was like ‘I’m going to keep it simple and just stay short, quick and see what happens.’ … As soon as I hit it I was like ‘Man, this is going to be the first one.’ And I was excited and happy that I got it.”
Albies is the first Brave to homer for his first career hit since Evan Gattis took Roy Halladay deep on April 3, 2013 against Philadelphia. He’s the first player born in 1997 to clear the fence.
Listed at 5-foot-9 and 160 pounds, Albies had an unexpected power surge before his promotion. He had nine homers in 97 games for Triple-A Gwinnett, but six of those came when he returned from the disabled list June 13. He’s hit seven homers in his past 46 games.
“That’s a way to get your first one,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It was good.”
Albies was hitless in his first seven at-bats. But he received plenty of support from teammates during his short-lived dry spell.
“Been awesome getting advice from all the guys in the dugout,” Albies said. “And they told me just, whenever you get your first one (hit), it’s going to be relaxing, you’re going to be playing and get way more hits every single day. So just keep fighting. Don’t sit down, always stay positive.”
Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers also homered Thursday, making Albies and Devers the first pair of 20-year-olds to go deep on the same day since Jurickson Profar and Bryce Harper did so Aug. 2, 2013, according to former ESPN baseball writer Jayson Stark.
Before speaking with the media after the game, Albies brought an autographed bat to the fan who caught his memorable home run ball.
“I think he was more excited than me,” Albies said. “But he was such a great guy. He gave me the ball and I signed my name on a bat.
“I feel good. I feel great. Just happy I hit it. Many more to come.”
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