Boy was it nice to see Ian Anderson back to his normal self, as the Braves again defeated the Padres by an identical score of 5-2 on Saturday, with a chance to win the series tonight on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball.

The 23-year-old Anderson – coming off a walk-fest in last week’s outing against Cincinnati, featuring five free passes – appeared to have gotten over his recent control issues, as the righty effectively worked around a walk in the first inning, a solo-homer in the second and a harmless two-out single in the sixth before giving way to reliever Collin McHugh. I have to say, concerns regarding Anderson (if there were any), should now be withdrawn, for he mostly kept the Padres lineup at bay on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Ozzie Albies continued his bid to reach 30 dingers in consecutive seasons, as the Braves second baseman quickly put the team up 1-0 when he kicked off the game with a lead-off, solo-home run. Already with four long balls in 2022, Ozzie has been an ambushing fool recently, which seems to fit him nicely given historically he’s always been a bit of free swinger.

The aforementioned homer allowed by Anderson in the second made things tied for a bit, but Atlanta’s offense struck again two innings later when Adam Duvall started a rally by leading off with a double in the fourth. The scoring threat, though, was nearly spoiled, as Alex Dickerson struck out and Dansby Swanson grounded out to third. However, Manny Piña came through with the two-out knock by going down and getting a solid pitch from San Diego’s Nick Martinez, on an 0-2 count nonetheless. The opposite-field single scored Duvall and put the Bravos up 2-1.

Atlanta kept the pedal down over the next two innings, scoring three runs combined in the fifth and sixth, thanks to homers from both Matt Olson and Marcell Ozuna in the former inning, and another oppo-RBI for Piña in the latter frame. Each long ball was impressive in its own way, as Olson went the other way on a high-in-the-zone 93 MPH fastball and Ozuna’s came off a loopy breaking ball on the inside corner. Either way, though, both of these hitters are locked in.

With a 5-1 lead through six, all the Braves needed was some decent work from the ‘pen, and for the most part it got just that. After McHugh entered for Anderson and got a hot-hitting Manny Machado to strike out swinging to end the frame, he went on to get two more outs in the seventh, before allowing a ground ball single to Eric Hosmer. Manager Brian Snitker than went with Will Smith, and the veteran lefty ended the frame by striking out Jurickson Profar, but then another one of those two-strike homers bit him in the eighth as the Padres Trent Grisham went with the pitch for a solo dinger over the left field wall to make it a three-run game. It wasn’t a bad pitch by Smith. Just a better piece of hitting by Grisham.

Fortunately, Smith got himself out of the inning, and in the ninth closer Kenley Jansen made quick work out of a dangerous 3 thru 5 group, featuring Machado (strikeout), Jake Cronenworth (groundout) and Luke Voit (pop out).

This Braves-Padres series will wrap up tonight on national television, and it’s shaping up to become quite an exciting matchup as prospect Bryce Elder is slated to face San Diego’s Yu Darvish. Talk about a helluva assignment for the kid’s second MLB start! First pitch is scheduled for 7:08 PM (ET). Happy Easter and GO Braves!

Punch outs galore down on the farm

While I usually save these minor league reports for Mondays, I figure it’s appropriate to post a write-up when anything interesting happens down on the Braves farm. And let me tell you, some cool stuff went down on Saturday night. If you hadn’t heard yet, both prospect pitchers Jared Shuster and Tanner Gordon went off last night, combining to strike out 26 batters in their respective outings. The former ranks 12th on my Braves Offseason Top 35, while the latter came into the season ranked 24th.

Starting for Double-A Mississippi last night, Shuster worked around base runners in each of the first, second and third innings, but then went on to tie a Southern League record by striking out eight-straight Biloxi batters. The punch out total could’ve probably been even higher, but Shuster had to settle for a dozen strikeouts overall before rain ended the contest with one out in the sixth. The prospect lefty’s line was as follows: 5 IP, 2 H, BB, 12 K.

Gordon took the bump for High-A Rome on a night in which the R-Braves offense was without the hot-hitting prospect Vaughn Grissom (scheduled night off it appears). That didn’t seem to faze the 24-year-old righty, though, as Gordon struck out 14 Hudson Valley batters and carried a no-hitter into the fourth inning. After setting down a whopping 10-straight, Gordon pitched around two hits in the middle of his outing, before six consecutive strikeouts to finish his start after six inning. The dominance is a bit more expected coming from the former first-rounder in Shuster, but Gordon – who was selected in the sixth round of the 2019 draft – is a little less talked about. Well, it appears that could change this season, as the kid seems to be shooting for a Double-A promotion soon.

Other notables down on the farm from Saturday (which will also be included in tomorrow’s report) include more hitting from prospect Michael Harris II, who has now hit safely in all eight games with Mississippi. Also, Drew Lugbauer went deep for the third time this season, and Jefrey Ramos finally got in on the action by slapping an RBI double in the M-Braves win (snapping a four-game losing streak). Down in Single-A Augusta, prospect Cal Conley and much of the GreenJackets lineup broke out with nine hits altogether, but for the third time in the current series the team lost via a walk-off hit. Conley had a base-hit and stole two bases, while Brandol Mezquita finished 2 for 4 with an RBI and a walk.

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