I’d say things are going well at the moment. When last I recapped, a week ago, I said that I’d like a 5-1 homestand, with 4-2 not necessarily being the end of the world. So yeah, I’ll take 6-0. The Braves are 5.5 games out of first and are now 3.5 up on Philadelphia after they finally stubbed their toe today. We’re also now in a virtual three-way tie for the wild card. Technically speaking, only two of those teams would actually make the playoffs if they started today (which, not to break any news or anything, they don’t). Also technically speaking, San Francisco is percentage points up on the Braves and St. Louis in that three-way tie which doesn’t currently matter for much.

The Braves got back-to-back homers from William Contreras and Adam Duvall, both of them on pitches that were absolutely destroyed down the left-field line, in the second inning. That gave them a 2-0 lead and, after Bryan Reynolds drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the third for Pittsburgh, Duvall came back with his second homer of the day in the fourth. This one was to the opposite field and just cleared the wall, but Duvall seems to be rounding into better shape. I don’t know if it’s the weather warming up, and I don’t know if it’s the fact that he doesn’t have to play center field any longer…who knows? But something’s working for him in a way it wasn’t earlier in the season, that’s for sure.

Reynolds pulled a couple runs back and brought the Pirates to within one in the fifth, homering off of fellow Vanderbilt Commodore Kyle Wright to make it 4-3. Speaking of college baseball, I would love to go back in time to meet 2019 me and ask him why he decided to start following it. Today me would inform him of the shocking news that his college baseball team is every bit as capable of hitting him in the face with a two-by-four as all his other teams are. (I’m a Tennessee fan, for those who haven’t been around here forever and are wondering what in the hell I’m talking about.)

Anyway, the Braves lead was now just 4-3, and the offense had entered full Hibernation Mode after Duvall’s second homer in the fourth. The pitching staff did a good job of shutting the Pirates down during the offensive slumber, though. Wright got through the rest of the fifth and one additional inning, finishing with a line of 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 7 K. Another solid start for him, as far as I’m concerned. He only had 79 pitches when he left, but it was hot today and so forth…I don’t know, I probably would’ve let him go out for another. But it turned out to be fine, because the good Will Smith made an appearance…a fact for which I noted not a single acknowledgment in the comments section, for the record. I guess I’ll file it away for the next time he issues a one-out walk and everyone goes nuts. I also guess that I’m now the president of the Will Smith fan club, for some reason.

A.J. Minter allowed a one-out single in the eighth…that irritating Bryan Reynolds again. On the plus side, Reynolds had the decency to erase himself from the basepaths and end the inning two batters later as he left too early and got picked off by Minter.

Hibernation Mode ended in the bottom of the eighth, as Matt Olson launched a solo homer to center field to double the Braves lead, 5-3, going into the ninth. I don’t know if it was needed or not, but it was definitely appreciated after Kenley Jansen gave up a leadoff single. The Atlanta closer set down the next three hitters in order, though, to secure the team’s 11th straight win.

Up next, a six-game road trip against two more bad teams: the Nationals and Cubs. Since proclaiming what I would view as a successful road trip has gone so well the last two weeks, I guess I’ll do it again. I’ll take 4-2, with 5-1 serving as the “get greedy” benchmark. I doubt we’re coming home on an Atlanta-record 17-game winning streak. However, I’d be happy to be wrong!