When the San Diego Padres arrived for a four-game series that would serve as the opener to SunTrust Park, the Atlanta Braves held a 2-6 record. As the Padres exit town in favor of a visit from the Washington Nationals, the Braves now boast a 6-6 mark and a four-game sweep on their ledger at this early point of the 2017 season.
Dansby Swanson drove home the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning after the Braves loaded the bases against Brandon Maurer. In truth, it was a strange inning that did not display a myriad of hard-hit balls, but timely hitting was the key to victory in the end.
Prior to that, the night began in rather ominous fashion for the Braves, as starting pitcher Jaime Garcia allowed three consecutive singles. The third base hit plated a run for San Diego and, in a flash, Atlanta was in a 1-0 hole. Shortly thereafter, though, the Braves tied the game after being (partially) gifted a run as Brandon Phillips singled, advanced to second on an error and later scored on a groundout from Kurt Suzuki.
From there, Freddie Freeman provided cushion for the Braves with a two-run blast that scored Dansby Swanson in the bottom of the third inning. It was the fourth long ball from the All-Star first baseman on the season but he wasn’t done there.
After San Diego’s Austin Hedges put the visitors ahead 4-3 with a two-run blast against Arodys Vizcaino, Freeman sent a second ball over the fence, this time against a left-handed pitcher and to left-center field. That tied the game in the eighth inning to set up what would become the winning rally in the ninth and, after a 4-4 day that included nothing but extra-base hits, Freeman’s slash line sits at a ridiculous .400/.481/.867 for the young season.
While it was a rough night for Vizcaino, Nick Markakis and others, Atlanta’s fifth straight victory did boast a list of heroes. In addition to Freeman and Swanson, Jaime Garcia put together a strong performance (aside from the opening frame) in allowing only two runs in 6.2 innings and the non-Vizcaino bullpen cruised through two near-spotless frames.
The end result on this particular night was another victory and, in fitting fashion, it was the team’s best player and brightest young standout that vaulted the result from highly questionable to definite in the best possible way. Stay tuned.