Our Braves are clearly disciples of the great Earl Weaver, whose famous formula for winning baseball games was pitching and three run homers. As he explained, “Pitching keeps you in the game. Home runs win the game.” It’s true the Braves didn’t launch any three run jacks in Friday’s 8-1 win over the Marlins, but I don’t think Earl would object to three two-run homers plus a couple of solo shots.
Charlie Morton did his part in keeping them in the game, going 5 and two thirds, surrendering only one run on four hits with seven strikeouts. McHugh, Chavez (of course he pitched well—great to see him in a Braves uniform!) and Iglesias finished the job with three and a third scoreless.
Holding them to one run would have seemed essential, since the opposing hurler was Cy Young front-runner Sandy Alcantara. For that reason, several folks said this game is like a rehearsal for the playoffs. If that’s true, I like our chances.
Alcantara has been the best pitcher in the league, but as Snit said after the game: “We hit homers; this is what we do.” Alcantara gave up the first three homers, two run blasts by d’Arnaud, Harris, and Grissom. By the time he left in the sixth, it was 6-1 and things were looking a lot better than they had been just two innings earlier.
In fact, through the first three innings, there wasn’t much room for optimism. Charlie was a little shaky in the early going. In the first, the Fish hit a couple of drives of home run distance that were just foul, and a long shot that Harris caught against the fence. In the second Morton surrendered a double but left that runner stranded at third. In the third the Marlins got on the board on a long home run to Jerar Encarnacion leading off the inning. (I had to look that name up—it was his second career home run.)
Meanwhile Alcantara had only allowed one baserunner through the first three innings, and that was on a swinging bunt infield single by, of all people, Marcell Ozuna (remember him?). That one run lead was looking pretty large.
But then the Braves did what they do. In the fourth, Swanson led off with a sharp single to left. After a Riley strikeout and an Olson pop out, d’Arnaud gave the Braves the lead with a long home run to left. Then, just like that, Harris singled and Grissom homered. Boom—4-1. After getting the lead, Morton held them right there. All seven K’s by Morton were on his curveball, which to my eyes was breaking as sharply as it ever has.
In the bottom of the sixth, Travis was hit by a pitch and Harris hit a drive to the right field bleachers. Boom, boom—6-1. In the seventh, Riley got in on the action with a towering solo shot to left, Travis followed with his second dinger of the game to make it 8-1.
Turns out the new contracts have not ruined Riley or Harris. I’m starting to think Mr. Anthopoulos knew what he was doing when he extended both of them.
Snit did indeed say after the game, “We hit homers; this is what we do.” That last line also happens to be the title of MC Hammer’s theme song from the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. I remember that, because it was the first movie I took my son to. MC Hammer acquired the nickname “Hammer” long before he was famous, due to his resemblance to Henry Aaron. As a batboy with the A’s, the young Hammer got to know Mr. Aaron. Hank Aaron, MC Hammer: A bond forged nearly 50-years ago (mercurynews.com) It wasn’t long after that that Mr. Aaron persuaded a young Brian Snitker to give up his dream of playing baseball to become a manager. If you follow the Braves and Henry Aaron closely enough, you realize there are no coincidences.
Snit also said of Harris and Grissom, and not for the first time, after the game: “They’re really good.” As usual, I can’t argue with his analysis.
* * *
Chipwatch: I watched the broadcast on Apple TV+. I never thought I’d say this, but I missed Chip. For a network that produces something as excellent as Ted Lasso, you’d think the quality of the baseball broadcasts at Apple TV+ wouldn’t be so banal.
I will admit, the pitch by pitch hit probability in the bottom corner of the screen is pretty cool. I have no idea how they figure it, but I think Chip must have something to do with it. I was watching it with Dansby up in the fourth. His hit probability was only like 10% with one strike, but then it jumped to 25% with two strikes. That makes no sense—no one hits better with two strikes. But then I remembered Chip’s constant reference to all of Swanson’s two strike hits. I guess the algorithm has also been listening to Chip.
There was one other thing I liked about the broadcast: the commercials with The Staples Singers singing “I’ll Take You There.” I could listen to Mavis Staples any time.
* * *
This is nine straight wins on Friday; 18-4 for the year. In fact, the Braves have a winning record on Fridays even against the Mets, having won the only game they played on a Friday. I’m not saying there is a connection between my doing Friday recaps this year and the team record on those days, but then again you never know. As I said, there are no coincidences.
Braves go for four straight on Saturday evening behind Odorizzi, who will try to build on the last two good starts.