After rallying past the Cubs in dramatic fashion the last two nights, Los Bravos kicked the Cubs while they are down, earning a 5-3 win Thursday evening.
Matt Olson set a new franchise RBI record (136) with a two-run homer in the bottom of the first, perhaps driving the final nail in the Cubs playoff coffin. The Braves scored two more times in the second and added a single run in the third to seal the deal.
Solid pitching performances
Young AJ Smith-Shawver shoved in 3 2/3 innings of work. He walked Michael Tauchman to start the game, which is rarely a good sign. Tauchman eventually came around to score, but that’s all the Cubs got off the Braves rookie. Smith-Shawver struck out two and didn’t allow a hit before being lifted for Kyle Wright in the fourth inning. Wright followed Smith-Shawver and earned the win, allowing a run and three hits while striking out four in 2 1/3. Joe Jimenez worked a clean seventh, AJ Minter allowed a run in the eighth, and Raisel Iglesias saved it with a clean ninth. The eighth could’ve been much worse for Minter, but he induced a 6-4-3 double play from old friend Dansby Swanson to end the threat.
Austin Riley seemed to have some issues with the outfield fence Thursday night. Perhaps he was trying to create an escape route for the Cubs while they are down, I don’t know, but he pounded balls off the right-field and center-field wall in a 3-for-4 performance. Riley singled in the first, tripled in the third, and doubled to center in the fifth. Unfortunately, he popped out in the seventh to fall short of the cycle. Quietly, Riley’s OPS is up to .865 and needs just four RBI to be fourth Brave with 100 RBI.
Atlanta is also three homers short of the Minnesota Twins all-time MLB homer mark. Ozzie Albies needs two home runs to be the fifth Brave with 35 or more HRs this season. And Kevin Pillar is sitting on nine. Wouldn’t it be awesome if he could get one more this weekend? That would mean all the position players, save Nicky Lopez, have 10 or more HRs! Well, save Forrest Wall, too, I guess. The numbers are still impressive!
With the win, the Braves have the home-field advantage as long as they are playing in the 2023 post-season. They improved to 103-56 and have the GNats coming to town to conclude the regular season. There are more records to break, but I also imagine some of the regulars may get some rest here and there. Allan WINans gets another opportunity to build his case for making the playoff roster tonight. He will take on Trevor Williams (6-10, 5.55). First pitch is set for 7:20 ET/6:20 CT.