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Acuña lead Braves in first doubleheader of the season

Photo: Thomson200-https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/deed.en

Under the new MLB and MLBPA agreement, all doubleheaders will be limited to seven innings. With the new rules in this shortened season, this was a new and fun first time for the Braves.

After the rain delay a couple days ago, the Braves prepared for their first doubleheader of the season today against the Philadelphia Phillies. The Braves were looking to get back on track after they were held to just 4 hits and no runs in a 5-0 loss to Jake Arrieta on Saturday.

In that game the Braves top 4 hitters combined to be 0-15 and seven strikeouts. Not what you expect to see from Acuña, Swanson, Freeman, and Ozuna. The entire offense needed to step up in a big way against Phillies pitchers Vince Velasquez and rookie Spencer Howard.

In game one Velasquez pitched very well, but, like much of this year so far, it was the Phillies bullpen that cost them the game. And what do you know, it was the usual suspects for the Braves who took over.

Acuña started the hitting party off with a two run home run in the top of the fifth inning.  After Swanson and Freeman singled, and Ozuna walked, Adam Duvall hit a bases clearing double as the Braves racked up five runs. This was all the Braves’ bullpen needed to close out game one.

Not to be outdone by the bats, the Braves had rookie right hander Huascar Ynoa take the mound for his first start ever, and he didn’t disappoint. With a fastball going upwards of 100 mph, the young Braves hurler looked pretty good in his first start. The Braves only let him pitch two and a third innings before heading to the bullpen, but Ynoa did offer a little promise for the Braves back end of the rotation.

In game two, the Braves sent ace pitcher Max Fried to the mound against Spencer Howard who was making his major league debut for the Phillies. All credit to Howard who looked good at the start of the game, but as the Braves lineup ran through a second time it went downhill for the rookie.

This was another great game for the entire Braves team. Expectations are always high for Fried and, as usual, he delivered. Fried pitched five innings, gave up no runs on four hits, and six strikeouts. The Braves gave Fried a ton of run support last season which helped him win 17 games, and so far this season the Braves are continuing that trend.

Let’s recap, against Jake Arrieta last night the Braves’ top four hitters were 0-15 with seven strikeouts. In the first game of the doubleheader, Acuña hits his second home run of the year as the Braves’ top four hitters combine to go 6-14 with only three strikeouts. In the final game of the doubleheader, the Braves’ top four hitters combined for 10 hits, Acuña homers twice and Freeman homers once, with two strikeouts.

Needless to say, the Braves bats came to life once again. As we sit today the Braves are winning the series two games to one as they head into tomorrow’s finale against Phillies Ace Aaron Nola. Sean Newcomb takes the mound in Atlanta which should be a very tough test for the young starter.

The Braves are still trying to piece this rotation together as they wait on Cole Hamels to join the staff. Two weeks ago, the Braves had two very strong starters. However, with Soroka going down for the year with an Achilles tear, the Braves are down to Max Fried and a bunch of unknowns. Thankfully they have a great offensive lineup and excellent defense to help these starters take shape on the mound.

The Braves-Phillies match up was always a fun one to watch. Watching the Braves travel up to Philly to take on Hamels, Lee, and Halladay  was so fun almost ten years ago. With the Phillies having a great team again, this will be a fun rivalry to keep track of over the years.

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