On an evening which saw the Atlanta Braves enter Friday night’s play one game back of the New York Mets, it seemed like nobody wanted to hit. Through seven innings, the Braves scored one run on two hits, all by designated hitter William Contreras.
However, the Atlanta bats woke up in the eighth, scoring six runs en route to a 7-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. With the Mets victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Braves are currently one game out of first place in the National League East.
Contreras finished 3-for-4 on the night.
“He’s been something else to watch all year.” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of Contreras’s play this season. “Just how he’s maturing with playing time and is catching and calling the game. It’s been really cool to see and he’s been a big part of what we got going on.”
In the 8th inning, pinch hitter Eddie Rosario entered the game and coaxed a walk. Then Ronald Acuña Jr. hit the go-ahead home run, his 12th of the season. Upon smacking the ball over the right field fence, the sellout crowd at Truist Park erupted and brought the atmosphere that this has become known for in big games.
“I think any home run is good for confidence and for you know, just to get the vibes going and to feel good about yourself and your swing so, any home run that’s hit I think regardless of where it’s at two can definitely get you going,” Acuña Jr. said through a translator.
Snitker would later say it was good to see Ronald swinging the bat really well during the roadtrip in the hopes that it would get him going in the last two weeks of the season.
The highlight of the night was the return of starting second baseman Ozzie Albies. Albies went 1-4 on his first game back since June 13th after suffering a broken bone in his foot. In the eighth inning, Albies hit a blooper to left which fell in front of left fielder Kyle Schwarber and third baseman Yairo Muñoz.
“Great work they’ve done for the last three months, but it’s hard being at home on the couch and you can’t even go do anything,” Albies said pregame. “It was pretty tough, but mentally I was strong.”
Pregame, Braves manager Brian Snitker promised that Albies will be honest when talking about his foot injury.
“We’ll see. I mean, he says he feels good and everything, which is really good,” Snitker said. “Obviously, we won’t be crazy or stupid about it. We’ll trust him and I think he’s going to be forthright with us. If he needs to DH a day or something like that, we can always work that in. So we’ll just kind of get him out there and run him around and see how it is day to day.”
After the game, Snitker said it felt great to see Ozzie get acknowledged by the fans.
“He’s meant a lot to this place here,” Snitker said. “And to our organization, our team has been instrumental in a lot of really good things that have happened over the last five, six years and fans appreciate the way that kid plays because he leaves it out there every night. Like I always say, ‘you play like Ozzie, you’re gonna do it right.’ And it was nice to see them show their appreciation for him.”
With regards to Vaughn Grissom, who deputized for Albies as he rehabbed, Snitker said the lineup will remain fluid because he is committed to putting the best possible lineup on the field each day.
“Just wait and see, again, that’ll be a day to day thing,” Snitker said pregame. “See how we match up. Maybe at a certain time in the lineup or if Ozzie needs a day to DH we can plug him in. We are going to work him out in the outfield, but the focus is going to be on winning games. Putting the team out there that day that we can win a game. It’s not going to be on individuals. So, he’s just gotta stay ready to do whatever we need him to do.”