That’s more like it! Braves allow us to breathe – BY DAN MATHEWS

atlanta braves, 680 the fan
Atlanta Braves outfielders Ender Inciarte, left, Ronald Acuna Jr., and Marcell Ozuna celebrate after the first baseball game of a doubleheader at Nationals Park, Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in Washington. The Braves won the first game 7-6. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

April 8, 2021
680 THE FAN, ATLANTA – Yesterday was much better as a Braves fan. Right?!

That was the Braves team we’ve come to know and love over the last couple of years. They had a tough game, but found a way to win. That’s what great teams do. 

How about the first game of their double-header against the Nationals. They were down 4-1 in the second inning and Max Fried was not featuring his best stuff. Not a great situation to be in, even for a seven inning game. But then, the bats came alive! Five runs in that second inning and a rare lead gained. 

The roll of great news continues, when Fried takes a Juan Soto comebacker off his right calf. It did lead to a deflection over to Austin Riley at third base and a tag on the running Trea Turner. Fried finishes the inning and then is lifted for Josh Tomlin. 

Fast forward to the end of the game, Will Smith has a chance at redemption. Uh oh, it was not looking good. A lead-off walk to Soto, a swinging strikeout of Ryan Zimmerman, and then… An RBI double by Starlin Castro down the left field line. Yeah, that’s awesome. Yet, Smith still did what a closer is supposed to do. He got the final (two) out(s) with a 1-6-3 double play. Game over and a win! 

In game two, you’re facing Stephen Strasburg. Yeah, that’s what they needed. But, Huascar Ynoa was AMAZING. You didn’t have many available arms in the bullpen and needed to ride with Ynoa for as far as he could take you. Is five innings of two hit ball, with five strikeouts good? I’d say that’s good. 

In the seventh, the hero strikes again! Dansby Swanson gets his lone hit of the day and Manager Brian Snitker makes the move. Pablo Sandoval grabs a bat for catcher Alex Jackson. He works Tanner Rainey to a full count and then… Crack! Deep fly to straight away center field and over the wall. Braves lead 2-0. 

The bottom half of the inning belongs to Sean Newcomb. Yes, that Sean Newcomb who has struggled with command of his pitches in the past. He comes out throwing a high-90 MPH fastball and strikes out the side. 

These two wins were significant, because they allow for everyone to take a deep breath and relax during today’s off day. It also shows them what they already know… They can win in almost any fashion. 

Yes, Marcell Ozuna is struggling at the plate. He’ll come around. Will Smith has been a little shaky in the last two outings. But, he’ll be where you need him with more work. 

I do think there is something there with Newcomb in the back end of the bullpen. A 99 MPH fastball coming at you from the left side? Good luck to you as a hitter, who is standing 60 feet, six inches away. 

Yesterday told us what many already knew… They’ll be fine. This club is too talented and will have better days ahead on the field. Let’s keep the momentum going on Friday. We owe the Phillies one. 

Dan Mathews

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