At this point, Braves fans should be used to what their seeing. In 2019, Atlanta was the second best team in runs scored in the seventh inning, the second best team in runs scored in the eighth inning, and the six best team in runs scored in the ninth inning.
Needless to say, the Braves clutch factor still remains in tact. Today, it took place with a ninth inning game tying home run from Marcell Ozuna off of Edwin Diaz.
This not only proved to be huge to take the game into the bottom of the ninth and eventually a win in the tenth, but it finally seemed to waken up the bats. With two outs and down to their last strike in the ninth, it couldn’t have come at a better time for the Braves.
Before the tenth inning surge of runs, Atlanta play 18 innings in which they had a total of three runs and 26 total strikeouts. That is not the way you want to start any season, but especially a shortened one where every game matters. This is still a major issue the Braves will have to fix in the near future.
But if the last out of the ninth inning and the hits in the tenth inning were any signs of the future, the Braves should be getting back in their groove. A win ties the series up at one a piece, which is a lot better than possibly starting the season looking down a 0-2 hole.
The new bright spot of the game came with a rookie getting his first big league hit, and was it a good one. With one out in the top of the tenth, Braves catching prospect Wilson Contreras stepped up to plate. And boy did he deliver. Contreras doubled off of Hunter Strickland to deep right center leading to his first big league RBI driving in Johan Camargo.
Contreras made his case to get his first big league start tomorrow over Alex Jackson. With Travis d’Arnaud and Tyler Flowers out sick, Jackson has played well defensively but has had fifteen big league at bats with no hits and seven strikeouts. In the laws of odds and statistics, eventually Jackson is due a hit. But it is time to see what Contreras has behind the plate. His older brother, Wilson, is a star catcher for the Chicago Cubs.
Not to be glossed over by the bats, the Braves starting pitching looked great again today in the form of Max Fried. Max pitched five innings with 2 hits, 2 earned runs, and five strikeouts. The top of the rotation with Fried and Soroka looks to be in good hands. Once Hamels returns from injury the rotation should have a solid third arm to join its ranks.
Tomorrow night game three comes down to Braves left hander Sean Newcomb and and Mets right hander Rick Porcello. Porcello finished 2019 with a 14-12 record, 5.52 ERA, and a great WHIP at 1.39 as a starter. Newcomb was a reliever for the Braves last year with a 3.16 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP.
Newcomb is trying to plant himself within the starting rotation as the Braves have a spot open at the back end. For those of you wondering about Hamels and Foltynewicz, Hamels is working himself back from an injury and Folty is starting Monday against the Tampa Bay Rays. Newcomb has an opportunity to solidify himself as the fifth guy in the rotation, but is in a battle with Kyle Wright and others.
Tomorrow night is Newcomb’s first chance to jump into that role. If Newcomb pitches well and the Braves bats fire up, they will have a lot to look forward to in the pandemic led season.