It was a largely fun night for the Braves with one glaring exception.
Guillermo Heredia had a career night and Bryse Wilson pitched good enough, but Braves fans await news on Ronald Acuna Jr. who exited the Braves’ 13-4 victory over the Cubs.
The Braves wasted no time in scoring in this one. After Ronald Acuna Jr. grounded out to lead off the game which I assume was just a clerical error since that seems more likely than him recording an out at this point, Freddie Freeman connected for a loud solo homer to give the Braves an early 1-0. 107.6 mph off the bat. 421 feet. Yep, that’ll play. Travis d’Arnaud did not want to be left out and after Marcell Ozuna drew a walk, TdA launched a homer of his own….a two-run shot and the Braves were very quickly up 3-0. After a hard hit out from Dansby, Ehire Adrianza channeled his spring training form to connect for a solo shot of his own to make it a 4-0 Braves lead. After Austin Riley was hit by a pitch, Guillermo Heredia connected for a two-run homer and the Braves were up 6-0. So, that was a fun first inning for the Braves’ offense.
The Cubs didn’t go quietly. After a single and double play, Anthony Rizzo would get the Cubbies on the board with a solo shot of his own to make it a 6-1 game. The next two batters would reach on a single and a walk before Javier Baez drove in a run on a throwing error from Austin Riley and it was a 6-2 Braves lead. Fortunately, old friend Jason Heyward grounded out to end the inning mercifully, but this game had the makings of an adventure.
After a scoreless second inning for both teams, the Braves got to work in the third. Dansby led off the inning with a single and then Riley got an infield single to make it first and second with one out. Unfortunately, Guillermo Heredia struck out and then Bryse Wilson had to hit because MLB apparently values pitchers hitting in 2021. A grounder to the pitcher later and the Braves came away empty handed.
Anthony Rizzo continued his rampage in this game with a solo shot to leadoff the Cubs’ half of the third. Fortunately, the Cubs went quietly other than that with a pair of quick flyouts and Bryse’s first strikeout of the game against Baez.
The top of the fourth saw Acuna Jr. and Freddie draw back to back walks before Ozuna hit a swing bunt that moved them both over into scoring position. The Braves got the fly ball they needed from d’Arnaud to score Ronnie, but Freddie got thrown out at third after tagging up to end the inning which was less than ideal. Even less ideal, Acuna, who was obviously physically uncomfortable while standing at second base, was in pretty significant pain after sliding home and was removed from the game. Hello darkness, my old friend…
Once Hendricks was out of the game for the 5th, the Braves made things interesting immediately as Adrianza, Riley, and Heredia quickly loaded the bases with one out. Bryse Wilson quickly popped out and Johan Camargo, batting in Acuna’s spot in the lineup, grounded out to end the inning.
With Bryse Wilson settling down over the last couple of innings, the Braves kept adding on in the sixth. Freddie Freeman led the inning off with a double and Marcell Ozuna promptly drove him in with an RBI single to make it an 8-3. Travis d’Arnaud would have connected for an RBI double, but fan interference meant that Marcell Ozuna had to stop at third as it was ruled a ground-rule double after an unnecessarily long review. Dansby was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Adrianza tacked on another run with a sac fly. Austin Riley would then be hit by his second pitch of the game to load the bases again. This time, Guillermo Heredia would make Ryan “Headhunter” Tepera pay with a grand slam to make it a 13-3 Braves lead.
The sixth inning saw Luke Jackson take the mound with Bryse’s final line being 5 IP, 7 H, 3 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 1K. Luke never makes things easy, but he did end up putting up a scoreless frame. Grant Dayton would pitch the seventh for Atlanta and he, too, would put up a scoreless inning of relief.
Josh Tomlin’s eighth inning was a little more eventful. He got the first two hitters out, but then Joc Pederson roped a triple and then Javy Baez doubled him home to make it a 13-4 game. Fortunately, a Jason Heyward fly out ended the inning. Tyler Matzek would come in to close the game out for the Braves to get some work in and while he started off a little wild, he would end up steadying the ship and striking out three straight batters to end the game.