Ronald Acuna Jr. really wanted to enjoy his Friday Night. Mike Foltynewicz apparently wanted to as well, as he delivered eight shutout innings in his most dominant performance of the year. The end result was a 6-0 victory over the San Francisco Giants, and back to back NL East Championships for the Atlanta Braves.
The Braves offense made sure to establish their impact early. An Acuna Jr. walk, an Ozzie Albies single, and a Freddie Freeman sac fly led to a 1-0 lead. Foltynewicz cruised through the first two innings, and was able to navigate through the top of the third inning despite an error and a bunt single. In the bottom of the third, Acuna Jr. and Albies made sure to reward Foltynewicz’s efforts again, as an Acuna Jr. double and Albies single made the score 2-0.
Foltynewicz would easily make his way through the fourth and the fifth innings, and then would experience his own offensive success with a single to lead off the bottom of the fifth inning. Ronald Acuna Jr. made sure to reward Foltynewicz’s efforts with a two run home run, his 41st of the year. While Acuna Jr. still is pursuing his 40-40 season, he made history becoming the first player in baseball history to hit 40 or more home runs, score 125 or more runs, and steal 35 or more bases. While Acuna Jr. is starting to make history on a nearly nightly basis, the most important thing is that he seems to be rounding back into form after his struggles in early September. If Acuna Jr. is locked in, the Braves can play with and have a chance to beat anyone in the playoffs.
While Acuna Jr. and Albies supplied most of the offensive success, Matt Joyce decided to join the fun with a single in the bottom of the sixth. Brian McCann followed that with his 12th home run of the season, a towering shot into the right field seats. With the score 6-0, the Braves offense had done their part to give Foltynewicz all the support he needed.
Foltynewicz would make his way through eight innings, retiring 17 of the last 19 batters he faced. Overall, he allowed three hits, one walk, no runs while registering seven strikeouts. As mentioned in the preview, Foltynewicz’s transformation over the past six weeks has been amazing and much needed for himself and the team, as now it seems highly probable that he will be a trusted cog in the Braves’ playoff rotation. Based off Baseball Reference’s Game Score metric, this is the first time Foltynewicz has had four straight starts that each received scores of 60 or higher. If he can remain this effective, the Braves staff could not have gotten a bigger upgrade at a better time.
Along with Foltynewicz, the success of the offense was much needed as well. The performance from both Foltynewicz and the offense was the perfect combination to claim the NL East crown for the Braves. Now having earned the ability to rest and celebrate, every area of the Braves organization should enjoy the night and moment. And, no matter where you may be, the fans should enjoy it as well. Whether in Atlanta or anywhere else, it should be an amazing night for every member of Braves country.
The main thing is to make sure that someone makes sure Ronnie is accounted for in the morning. That could be the biggest responsibility that Franco Garcia has had in his career with the Braves up to this point.
To all those that follow here and Braves fans everywhere, enjoy the moment and celebrate with pride. Your Atlanta Braves are back to back NL East Champions!
CHOP ON AS CHAMPS!!