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Braves Notes: Orlando Arcia’s heroics, Travis d’Arnaud a calming influence

The Braves scored their first walk-off win of the season Wednesday night and couldn’t have come at a better moment.

Boston Red Sox v Atlanta Braves Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Atlanta Braves scored their first walk-off win of the season Wednesday night as Orlando Arcia connected for a two-run home run in the ninth inning to salvage a split in a two-game series against the Boston Red Sox. The Braves came back from a 3-0 early deficit thanks to some strong pitching and some timely hitting, which is something that has been missing for a lot of the season.

Arcia is the team’s latest unlikely hero. He saw some action early on during the season, but made his first start since April 24 Wednesday night and responded with a three-hit performance including the game-winning home run.

“It’s great because he hadn’t been playing a lot,” Snitker said of Arcia. “He started off the year getting a few at-bats, but he hasn’t lost his enthusiasm, he’s working. The energy and everything. He is a good player and I’m happy for him.

Arcia singled in the third ahead of Travis Demeritte’s two-run home run that gave the Braves their first runs. In the ninth, he got ahead 2-0 in the count and then jumped on a fastball from Ryan Brasier and drove it out for the game winner.

“He’d had a big day already,” Ian Anderson said of Arcia after the game. “I think it’s one of the situations where when he gets in there, he wants to show something. Kind of the right place, right time. He can get to a fastball, he showed it there.”

Arcia is now 11-for-31 on the season with two doubles and a home run and a 166 wRC+. He’s hitting the ball hard with an average exit velocity of 94.3 mph and has an xwOBA of .441.

Ian Anderson and the bullpen

Atlanta heads into Thursday’s off day on a high note. The first 32 games have been a bit of a slog for the Braves who are 15-17 and six games back in the NL East standings. They have had opportunities, but just haven’t been able to find enough consistency to string together wins. Perhaps Wednesday’s heroics could be the start of something.

“We haven’t had one of these yet, a walk-off win,” Snitker said. “Absolutely it can. It helps a lot. For everything you put into a game like that, to come out with a win, especially like that, it means a lot.”

Anderson allowed three runs in his first three innings Wednesday night then settled in and pitched into the sixth before giving way to the bullpen. He gave up some hard contact including Trevor Story’s first home run of the season in the second inning that staked the Red Sox to an early lead. However, he again was able to limit the damage.

“I felt like that was one of my better games,” Anderson said of his start. “The ball was coming out better in the first inning. Early on, I made a couple of mistakes, but I think I can build off that one more than even the last few. I feel like the results were fine in the last couple, but I think today just the stuff, delivery and all that, was a lot better.”

Anderson gave way to Collin McHugh in the sixth with one out and two runners on. McHugh retired Story on a fielder’s choice but then walked Franchy Cordero to load the bases. Then in a key moment, struck out Kevin Plawecki on what appeared to be a borderline strike call. Plawecki and manager Alex Cora were both ejected. A.J. Minter, Will Smith and Kenley Jansen held Boston scoreless for the remainder of the game.

“Collin came up big again with traffic and then Minter and Will threw the ball as good as they have all year,” Snitker said. “Then Kenley just did his thing. They did a great job.”

Travis d’Arnaud a calming influence

Prior to Wednesday’s game, the Braves announced that reserve catcher Manny Piña will undergo surgery on his wrist and will miss the remainder of the season. The Braves added Piña during the offseason in hopes of adding some depth at the catcher position behind Travis d’Arnaud.

d’Arnaud is healthy and is off to a great start in 2022. He moved up into the third spot in the order Wednesday. He had an impact despite going 0-for-4 at the plate, throwing out his seventh runner of the season when he gunned down Jackie Bradley Jr. in the second inning.

“He’s just such, for me especially, a calming influence when he’s behind the plate,” Snitker said of d’Aranud. “Just how he handles everything and his feel. He has great reactions in game, making in game adjustments and watching reactions to hitters. The guys trust him and it’s just really a calming influence for all of us.”

d’Arnaud’s throwing improvement is no accident. Snitker said that he has been working with Sal Falsano to clean up some of his mechanics. The results have been positive through the first quarter of the season.

“He and Salvy have been working. They’ve been working on his arm, staying behind the ball better,” Snitker said. “It’s as good as I have seen him throw. He’s getting rid of it quick, but he’s really behind it good. He’s not cutting it and that ball is really jumping out of his hands. They’ve been working and cleaning up his mechanics throwing and it’s really helped. He’s throwing the ball really well, its firm and it is on target.”

The Braves will close out their homestand over the weekend with a three-game series against the San Diego Padres.