For those of you who were somehow worried about Marcell Ozuna having a slow go of things at the plate during spring training this year, The Big Bear made a quick snap out of hibernation in order to deliver a reminder that he’s likely going to be just fine once the regular season rolls around.
It turns out that all you need to do to get Marcell Ozuna to wake up during spring training is to put him in an exciting situation that he’s likely going to be in on numerous occasions once the regular season gets going. That situation is a scoring opportunity with two runners on, one out, and a vulnerable pitcher. Up to that point in the third inning, Tanner Houck had already walked four batters — including the two men who were already on base. Despite that, Houck had also managed to avoid giving up any hits until that point. That changed significantly after Ozuna came to bat for the second time of the day, as he absolutely crushed a pitch from Houck for a three-run shot that put the Braves one run ahead of the Red Sox at that point.
The game wasn’t televised so there’s not really a great view of Marcell Ozuna’s dinger, but this video of him skipping all the way to first base tells you all you really need to know about how hard and how far Ozuna sent this ball flying.
The third inning ended up being an eventful one for Dansby Swanson, as well. He clubbed a two-out double of his own after Ozuna’s round-tripper in the top half of the inning, and then he flashed a little bit of the leather in the the bottom half of the frame. The Red Sox had a bases-loaded scoring chance in the third and Christian Arroyo came up to the plate and sent a flying bullet through the infield that seemed destined to reach the grass and put some more runs on the board for Boston. Fortunately, Dansby leaped high into the air and snatched the ball into his glove to end the scoring chance and give everybody a reminder that he’s got a pretty good glove out there at shortstop.
Dansby Swanson's run-saving catch. pic.twitter.com/yoTsTIYNKS— Baseball GIFs (@gifs_baseball) March 16, 2021
As far as Kyle Wright goes, he had a bit of a scattershot game out there. The good news is that he picked up four strikeouts over three innings and did well to only give up two runs over those same three innings. With that being said, he definitely had plenty of moments where it looked like things were getting away from him. He gave up two walks, but he also hit two batters and tossed a costly wild pitch as well. Wright hit Marwin Gonzalez in the second inning, and then Gonzalez ended up scoring off of the aforementioned wild pitch. It was definitely a day that was far from perfect for Kyle Wright, but you have to figure that he’s going to have days like this once the regular season gets underway and it sure helps to have a defense that’s capable of bailing him out like Dansby did in the third inning today.
Later on, Touki Toussaint got another chance to build upon his impressive appearance back on Friday. For two innings, it looked like Touki was indeed on his way to a repeat performance of his three scoreless innings from a few days ago. Then Touki started off the seventh inning by giving up a single before doling out two-consecutive one-out walks to load up the bases. While Toussaint did end up conceding a run after a sacrifice fly, he managed to get out of the jam with a strikeout to end the inning. The third inning of this particular outing for Touki Toussaint may have been shaky, but he managed to escape trouble and limit the damage, so I’d count that as another good outing for him here in spring training.
As far as the game goes, the Red Sox ended up winning 5-3 after they added two more runs in the eighth inning to break the tie. Atlanta’s Connor Johnstone gave up a homer to Boston’s Connor Wong, which was only notable because it was apparently a moonshot that was sent to the deepest part of JetBlue Park — which has the same dimensions as Fenway Park, so that’s an impressive shot to say the least. It’s a bummer for Johnstone though, as he went on to surrender a walk and a run-scoring double to cap off the frame.
So while the Braves may have lost the Grapefruit League game, the highlights for the Braves were pretty high and they mostly came from players who you will be seeing a lot of once April rolls around. If anything, I’m sure that Brian Snitker is thrilled that Marcell Ozuna smacked one over the fence since that means that he won’t have to field as many questions about Marcell Ozuna having a slow start to spring training.