Charlie Culberson continued his great work at the plate, setting a career high with four hits. While Ozzie Albies recovers from his tight hamstring, the Braves appear to be holding open auditions for the role of Offensive Catalyst. So far they have several players who are willing to step into the role, but Culberson has been leading the charge. He is 9-for-15 over the last three games.
It wasn’t Sean Newcomb’s prettiest outing, but he wound up going six innings. Despite some issues locating the strike zone - illustrated by four walks through the first three innings - The Duke only allowed one run. To say Newk’s control was spotty in the first few innings would be generous; to be honest, he was about as sharp as a marble. Luckily, he had some wiggle room thanks to some timely hitting from his offense, and this allowed him to settle in after a few shaky innings and get the job done.
His final three innings were far superior to his first three, as he sat down the final eight Marlins he saw.
The Braves wasted no time jumping out to an early lead, as Culberson logged a first inning double and Freddie Freeman smacked a two-run home run over the fence in left center.
Freddie vs. the Fish?— MLB (@MLB) July 23, 2018
There is only one outcome. pic.twitter.com/WB2eTyXhvW
In the second, Dansby Swanson extended the lead to 3-0 with a line shot to left field, but Justin Bour got that run back with a solo shot of his own in the bottom of the inning. This would be the only run Miami scored all night.
The Braves manufactured two more runs in the top of the third, as Freeman doubled, Nick Markakis was intentionally walked, and Kurt Suzuki got plunked on the hip to load the bases. Johan Camargo jumped on the first pitch he saw and slapped a single to center to bring home two runs. 5-1 Braves.
The Ronald Acuña Leadoff Experiment continues to pay dividends. His first hit of the night was an RBI single to right that brought home Ender Inciarte in the top of the sixth. Since taking the top spot in the lineup in the first game after the All-Star break, Acuña is 8-for-14 with an absurd .688 OBP.
An Inciarte double into the gap brought home Markakis and Camargo in the seventh, extending the lead to 9-1. After tonight, Inciarte has six hits over the last two games. He is known for heating up during the second half of the season, which could be a boon for the Braves offense if history repeats itself.
Acuña struck again in the 7th, doubling deep to right and scoring on - you guessed it - an RBI single by Culberson.
In the top of the ninth, Acuña found himself up again, this time with the bases loaded. While we were all hoping for a 600-foot grand slam, his patience lead to a run-scoring walk, and Culberson followed with an RBI groundout to complete the scoring for the evening.
Evan Phillips came on to pitch a scoreless ninth, and it was his best outing to date. Ideally, he will be more of a bullpen weapon going forward, and not just relegated to mop-up duty.
The Braves and Marlins will do it all again tomorrow afternoon, with a businessman’s special slated for a 12:10pm EST first pitch. Join us, won’t you?