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Mallex Smith Goes Bonkers and Yard, Braves Win 11-4

Are you riding the Mallex Smith hype train? If not, well, he had something to say about that today.

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Ah, Spring Training. Where the games don't count, where a guy named Willians Astudillo is on your roster, where Ubaldo Jimenez implodes, where Mark Trumbo can't really play the outfield, and so on and so forth. Oh, also, where Mallex Smith goes absolutely berserk, in what we all hope is a portent of things to come for the Braves.

In any case, the Braves and Orioles squared off in a Spring Training contest once again, and there was plenty to be excited about if you're a Braves fan. As the visiting team this time, the Braves got to bat first, and it didn't take long for them to jump all over Baltimore starter Ubaldo Jimenez.

Mallex Smith (I'm going to be typing his name a lot today) got the game started with a groundball triple. I wasn't there, but the indications seem to be that this was not a Mark Trumbo-aided affair, and Smith is just that much of a terror on the basepaths. Since this is the Braves, you might expect them to strand a leadoff triple, even in Spring Training, but instead the tomahawk crew proceeded to batter Jimenez. Following the triple, we got this fun assortment of activities:

  • Liner up the middle for a single by Michael Bourn, scoring Smith
  • A rare, rare walk from Jeff Francoeur -- tell your grandkids you saw Francoeur walk, or at least heard he did, as it may never happen again
  • A groundout from Tyler Flowers (batting cleanup!), advancing the runners
  • A grounder up the middle by Kelly Johnson, scoring Bourn and Frenchy
  • Walks drawn by Nate "I'm not Freddie" Freiman and Gordon Beckham to load the bases
  • The ignominious departure of Ubaldo Jimenez, and his replacement by All-World Name Star Odrisamer Despaigne
  • A sad pop-up from Dansby Swanson, pretty much the only Brave to not get in on the offensive fun today
  • A sharp grounder up the middle from Ozzie Albies, scoring two more
  • Another triple, this one aided by Trumbo's fielding incompetence, from Glorious Leadoffman Mallex Smith, scoring Albies and Freiman
  • A walk from Bourn
  • And, mercifully, a groundout to the pitcher by Jeff Francoeur.
Boy, that was fun, wasn't it? All told, the Braves scored 7 runs in the first frame, and had Mallex Smith's two triples in the same inning occurred in a regular season game, he'd be only the 10th player in history to accomplish the feat.

Rotation hopeful Aaron Blair sat down the Orioles in order in the first, but ran into trouble in the second. First, Chris Davis took him deep, which he does to a lot of pitchers. Three straight singles later (one of them being a soft tapper that wasn't really Blair's fault), Blair managed to elicit a double play from J.J. Hardy to clear up the bases a bit. Unfortunately, Jonathan Schoop would take Blair deep, giving the Orioles a 4-spot. Two homers is generally not what you want to see from anyone in the same inning on the pitching side, but at least Blair didn't walk anyone, so there's that.

The remainder of the game was all Braves, with a lot of other exciting developments beyond the eventual 11-4 score. Mallex Smith would homer to center field (take that, low power grade!), and he would be joined in that feat by Ozzie Albies (take that, low power grade redux!). Smith would finish a single short of the cycle, with four hits in six tries, and 12 total bases. He posted an OPS of 2.250 in this game, because numbers. Kelly Johnson pulled off a great deuces wild stat line: 2 hits, 2 walks, 2 runs, 2 RBI. Braves third basemen in the game (Gordon Beckham, something called a Reid Brignac) managed to walk every single time up, with Beckham garnering three of those free passes. Ozzie Albies managed three hits and three driven in, including his homer. The Braves also turned two double plays and made no errors in the field. Fun!

The only hitter who had no fun was Dansby Swanson, the near-consensus top prospect of the system. Swanson went 0-5 with a strikeout and seven men left on base. He'll see better days. At least he got to switch off middle infield duties with Albies partway through the game, which is pretty fun as a concept.

The pitching was pretty clean for the Braves aside from Blair's struggles in the second: Chris Ellis, David Carpenter, John Gant, Evan Rutckyj, and Andrew Thurman all kept the Orioles off the board. Ellis pitched two scoreless innings but walked two, Gant may have had the best pitching performance of the game for the Braves with two innings of one-hit, one-strikeout ball. Evan Rutckyj notched the only other strikeout for the Braves, which is kind of interesting in that across nine innings, the staff allowed just two walks and garnered just two strikeouts, making the fielders earn the rest of the outs.

To end on a somber note, Andrew McKirahan left the game after throwing just five pitches with what looked like some kind of arm issue. We'll keep you updated as we know more, but that kind of injury stuff is never what you want to see in Spring Training, even if McKirahan was hardly a lock to earn a bullpen spot.

The Braves return to Disney to play the Tigers tomorrow at 1:05 ET. Mallex Smith will be there, will you be watching?

By the way, this is a fun interview with Mallex Smith - check it out! For someone whose carrying tool is speed, he curiously says "quick" a lot. It's like he's subconsciously priming us to revel in his roadrunner-esque glory.

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