Just one night after Marcell Ozuna became the first National League player to hit three home runs in one game at Fenway Park, Adam Duvall became the second NL player to accomplish the feat. The historical power binge ended up fueling the Braves to a 7-5 victory and a sweep of the Boston Red Sox.
From the start of this game (and probably even before it), it was clear that we were going to see plenty of runs scored. With a fly ball pitcher in the form of Robbie Erlin and Mike Kickham making his first major league appearance since September 2014, there was a very good chance that there was going to be plenty of offense on display. It didn’t take long for either of these guys to blink and Robbie Erlin was the first to blink.
Erlin began his start in atrocious fashion — Erlin’s first 11 pitches of the game were nowhere near the strike zone. He walked Alex Verdugo on four pitches, gave up an RBI double to Rafael Devers and then walked Xander Bogaerts on four pitches before finally throwing his first strike of the night to J.D. Martinez. Martinez ended up doubling off of him anyways, which pushed Boston’s lead to 2-0. Michael Chavis brought in a run with a sac fly and Erlin was able to finally get out of the inning by striking out Jackie Bradley Jr. That’s the type of inning that you’d expect to see from Erlin once he’s got a couple of innings under his belt, but instead we saw him come right out of the gate poorly.
Fortunately for the Braves, Mike Kickham started his outing looking very much like a pitcher who has not thrown at the major league level in six years. Austin Riley led off the second inning with a double, Adam Duvall followed that up with a dinger (let me tell you, he was nowhere near done) and then Johan Camargo picked up a single of his own. Kickham picked up two flyouts and was close to getting out of the inning with the lead still intact, but Freddie Freeman connected on a single and then Marcell Ozuna continued to rain down pain on the Red Sox with another RBI to tie the game at 3-3. Suffice to say, both Erlin and Kickham weren’t really springing any surprises with their performances tonight.
The Red Sox put two more runs on Robbie Erlin’s record before the pitcher exited the game without recording an out in the fifth inning. This included a homer from Jackie Bradley Jr. and then an RBI single from J.D. Martinez off of Darren O’Day. If the Braves were going to beat the Red Sox tonight, it would have to result from yet another come-from-behind win with most of the game having been played already.
As usual, Atlanta’s offense was up to the task. Adam Duvall in particular was up for it, as he struck for his second dinger of the game in the sixth inning. His homer actually tied the game, as he brought home Travis d’Arnaud on the 365-foot blast off of Andrew Triggs. At that point, I joked over on the Twitter account about Adam Duvall going up to Marcell Ozuna and saying that he was going to try to match him tonight. It was just a joke, but surely it was on every fan’s mind that Duvall would have a shot at matching Ozuna’s three-homer game from last night. At the time, the most important thing was that the Braves had closed the deficit for a second time tonight.
In the very next inning, the Braves finally wrestled the lead away from the Red Sox. With two outs in the top of the seventh, Marcell Ozuna returned to the plate and proceeded to send the third pitch from Triggs flying clear over the Green Monster for his fourth home run in two games. The Braves had clawed ahead at this point and now it was all about giving the bullpen some breathing room to eventually finish the game off once the time came.
The precious insurance run came in the eighth inning, as the Braves were looking to score in three consecutive innings at that point. With two outs on the board, Ryan Brasier stared down Adam Duvall and gave him a 95-mph fastball in the strike zone. With the trifecta surely on his mind, Duvall swung for the fences and hit the ball near the flag pole out in center field for his third home run of the night. Nobody was happier than Ozuna was to see Duvall pick up his third round-tripper of the game. This was one of those moments where I badly wish that there wasn’t a still-raging pandemic going on and we could’ve had fans in the building to react to the historical absurdity of Adam Duvall hitting three homers in one game the night after Marcell Ozuna hit three homers in one game.
Duvall’s solo shot put Atlanta ahead by two, and it was up to the bullpen to close it out. Shane Greene and Mark Melancon strung together two consecutive 1-2-3 innings to give the Braves their first sweep of the Red Sox in Fenway Park since 2002. Additionally, Adam Duvall’s big night has guaranteed that both he and Marcell Ozuna are going to share a small-but-powerful place in the baseball record books. It’s the first time that a team has had one player follow up a three-homer game from a teammate on one day with a three-homer game of his own on the next day since Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig did it on May 21-22, 1930. However, the Yankees played doubleheaders on both of those days and Ruth hit his three in the first game on the 21st, while Gehrig hit his three during the second game of the 22nd. Marcell Ozuna and Adam Duvall are the first teammates in baseball history to do it in back-to-back games.
History-making home runs aside, the Braves will be coming back to Atlanta on a high note. They’ve won four straight games, they’re riding high in the division, they’re getting Ronald Acuña Jr. back on Friday, and they’ll be getting a day off tomorrow. Things are going pretty well for the Braves at the moment, and here’s hoping that it continues for the rest of this month.