In what was a welcomed sight, Ronald Acuña Jr, stood at home plate and let out a full-throated scream as a baseball disappeared 446 feet into the Atlanta night. The Braves’ superstar let out a couple weeks of frustration as he watched a 3-run homer sail into the left field seats and give Charlie Morton all the support he would need in an 12-2 victory Friday night.
The night started with a bang, with 2 out and no one on in the first, Matt Olson stepped up and cranked his 13th home run of the season, giving the Braves an early 1-0 lead.
It wouldn't stay 1-0 for long. In the bottom of the second, Marcell Ozuna started the inning off with a walk, followed by a fielder’s choice from Eddie Rosario. William Contreras and Orlando Arcia both followed with walks, and phenom Michael Harris II ripped a 2-run double down the left field line to make it a 3-0 game.
Ronald Acuña Jr stepped up to the plate next and decided 6-0 sounded better than 3-0. Nationals’ starter Erick Fedde threw him a 2-2 cutter 89 mph and right down the middle and Acuña sent it 446 ft into the left-field seats to double the lead. It was Acuna’s 8th home run of the season.
After a two-run homer from Juan Soto made it 6-2 in the top of the third, Contreras extended the lead in the bottom half with a rocket down the right field line, to make it 7-2. It was Contreras’ 11th homer of the season.
Braves continued to pile in the fourth, with three consecutive singles from Harris, Acuña, and Dansby Swanson to bring the eighth run of the night and officially end Fedde’s night. The last big shot of the night came courtesy, once again, of rookie Michael Harris II who, with a runner on in the eighth, hit a titanic blast to right field and into the Chop House, his 7th of the season. It capped Harris’ perfect 4-4 night and gave him 4 RBI for the game. The Braves added a couple of tack-on runs against shortstop Alcides Escobar after a rain delay interrupted the bottom of the eighth after the Nationals decided they didn’t want to use any more actual pitchers in the game.
For Charlie Morton, it was another strong start to continue the good role he’s been on the last few weeks. The 2-run home run to Soto was the only blemish over seven innings and he continued to miss bats with seven more strikeouts. Morton finished with a final line of 7 innings pitched, 4 hits, 2 earned runs, 3 walks, and 7 strikeouts.
With the win, the Braves moved to 50-35 on the season while the Nationals fell to 30-56. Braves join the Mets and Dodgers as the only three 50-win teams in the National League. The Mets also helped out by losing to the Marlins tonight, so with the win, the Braves move to within 2 1⁄2 games of the division lead.
Braves and Nationals continue their 3-game series tomorrow night as Kyle Wright takes on Patrick Corbin.