1. The Nationals’ late-game comeback sent the Braves to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning, where they tied the 2019 Minnesota Twins for the MLB single-season home run record.
Outfielder Marcell Ozuna delivered the 307th homer, rounding the bases as fans cheered and fireworks shot off. He hugged his coaches and teammates Michael Harris II and catcher Travis d’Arnaud before reaching the dugout.
“I don’t have the words,” Ozuna said. “I (felt) a little too emotional inside. I said to everyone… when I had 37, I’m gonna make (40 home runs).”
Ozuna’s 40th homer set a single-season career high. This comes after a difficult start to 2023, going five-for-59 in April.
2. Two of the Braves’ biggest stars departed Sunday’s game early. First baseman Matt Olson was pulled after two innings, while right fielder Ronald Acuña Jr. played just one. The crowd applauded the players as they left the field. Olson looked to the crowd as he walked in from first base, while Acuna embraced his replacement, Kevin Pillar, and waved his cap.
Their respective departures put an end to two dominant regular seasons. Acuna is a frontrunner for the National League MVP Award, having set a new Braves’ franchise record with 73 stolen bases in addition to hitting 41 home runs. Olson set a new franchise record of 54 home runs while slugging .604.
Olson appreciated that manager Brian Snitker allowed him and Acuna to enjoy that moment. But the Braves are back to zero, Olson said. His next focus: keeping the strong level of play into the postseason and hoisting a trophy at the end.
“It’s been a good year for a lot of us,” Olson said. “(We) won a lot of games, but it doesn’t mean anything now. This is where the fun starts.”
3. Sunday was another announced sellout at Truist Park, as red-and-blue clad fans filled the ballpark. The Braves set an attendance record this season, totaling 54 sellouts and 3,191,505 fans.
Snitker said those numbers are a testament to “Braves Country.” The fans have no idea how much they mean to Braves’ players, Snitker said.
“(Players are) waking up and the kids are beating them in the head at 6:30 in the morning and they’re tired and achy from playing every day,” Snitker said. “Then they come and feel that energy, they don’t feel that anymore. They’re ready to go. That’s a testament to the fans.”
4. The Nationals were seemingly hitting batting practice in the first inning.
CJ Abrams kicked things off with a leadoff single on the first pitch of the game, sending the ball straight toward center field. Washington then tallied three straight hits, including two doubles, to put together a 4-0 lead by the middle of the first.
Pitcher Dylan Dodd struggled to find his footing, but managed to settle in after a five-hit first inning — allowing just four through the next five frames.
Snitker said Dodd accomplished exactly what he needed to: cover innings. Dodd loosened up and found his rhythm, Snitker said.
“I thought he was a hit or two away from not getting out of the first,” Snitker said. “Then he ended up going six, which was awesome.”
Stat to know
.501 — The Braves’ slugging percentage, setting an all-time single-season MLB record.
“(Ozuna) knows the kind of player he is. He’s been doing this for 10 years. You don’t just luck into that. He’s confident in himself and knew that he was going to come out of it at some point. Here we are: he hit 40 homers. I’m sure there’s a lot of bad things (were) being said about him earlier in the season. Hopefully the people saying those things admit that they’re wrong.” — Olson.
The Braves play in the NLDS Saturday. The time is to be announced.