Tucker Davidson looked good as he tries to lock down a rotation spot and Marcell Ozuna hit his first home run this spring as the Braves took down the Twins 8-6 to improve to 5-1 this spring.
Tucker Davidson got the spring start for the Braves on Saturday as he looks to try and nab a early season rotation spot with Atlanta. In the first inning, Dansby Swanson helped the cause with a really nice play to his right to keep the first inning a clean one. Defense definitely looks like it is in midseason form.
While the contact off of Tucker in the first inning was a teeny bit worrisome, he ultimately put in a perfect outing in which he did not allow a baserunner and struck out four batters in three innings of work. Darren O’Day came into the game in the fourth and immediately got himself into trouble when Byron Buxton doubled and then he hit Jorge Polanco with a pitch to put two on with no out. Fortunately, Luiz Arraez lined into a double play started by Ozzie Albies and then Miguel Sano struck out to end the threat.
The Braves offense got their first baserunners of the game when Marcell Ozuna and Adam Duvall drew a pair of walks. The Braves cashed in on that opportunity when Manny Pina, who has looked good this spring both at and behind the plate, drove in Ozuna with a RBI single. A throwing error allowed both Duvall and Pina to advance, but unfortunately Michael Harris wasn’t able to bring them in with two outs and it was a 1-0 lead for the Braves after two innings.
More walks came in the bottom of the third as Matt Olson and Austin Riley drew back to back one out free passes to put a pair of baserunners on for Marcell Ozuna who promptly connected for a three run opposite field home run that just cleared the wall to give the Braves a 4-0 lead. That homer was the first of the spring for Marcell.
Marcell Ozuna - Atlanta Braves (1)* pic.twitter.com/t97dimisP9— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) March 26, 2022
Michael Harris did his best to help the cause as he reached second base on an error by Byron Buxton with two outs, but unfortunately Dansby failed to bring him in as he grounded out to third instead. That meant that Sean Newcomb was tasked with protecting a four run lead when he came in for the top of the fifth inning. A one out double from Max Kepler gave the Twins a runner in scoring position and then a two out RBI double from Alex Kirilloff cut the Braves lead to 4-1. An RBI single from Nick Gordon made it a a 4-2 game and that was the end of the day for Sean as Brandyn Sittinger came into the game. That proved to be...unfortunate as Byron Buxton connected for a two run homer off of Sittinger and the game was tied.
The Braves got to work in the bottom of the fifth as they looked to reclaim the lead. Matt Olson drew a leadoff walk and after John Nogowski pinch ran for him, Ozzie Albies put him in scoring position with a two-out single. Unfortunately, Eddie Rosario struck out to end the threat.
After a scoreless frame from AJ Minter, the Braves quickly got two baserunners after an Adam Duvall walk and Manny Pina was hit by a pitch. Unfortunately, the next three Braves batters went down without incident. After another zero put up on the board by the bullpen, the Braves got the lead back in the bottom of the seventh thanks to a solo home run from Brock Holt. Pat Valaika and Alex Dickerson reached base with two outs later in the inning and a wild pitch and passed ball later, the Braves had themselves a 6-4 lead.
Our first spring training opportunity to yell BROCK HOLT pic.twitter.com/rOqjEfELTZ— Bally Sports South (@BallySportsSO) March 26, 2022
The...uh...less than inspiring performance of the Twins bullpen continued as a walk to Orlando Arcia forced in a run later in the inning and wild pitch scored another run to make it 8-4 Braves. The Braves had two hits in the seventh inning including Holt’s solo shot and they ended up scoring four runs.
One of the better relief prospects in the Braves’ system, Indigo Diaz, had a rocky eighth inning as he gave up two runs on four hits in less than an inning of work. Fortunately, Jake Higginbotham came in and got a pop up to end an inning that was well on its towards going completely off the rails.
After the Braves offense was quiet with the exception of a single from Ryan Goins in the bottom of the eighth, the Twins were down to their last three outs.