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Matt Olson gets off to hot start in spring with homer against Red Sox

Olson had two hits in Atlanta's tie against Boston, including a two-run homer that put the Braves on the board.

MLB: Spring Training-Boston Red Sox at Atlanta Braves Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Olson hit the ground running in Atlanta’s spring training opener today, as his two-hit performance (including a home run) was the standout performance in the Braves’ first spring training game of 2023.

Olson was the first Braves batter to record a hit this spring, as he cracked a one-out single to get things going for Atlanta at the plate in this one. He eventually followed that up in the third inning with a rocket shot of a home run that went off the top of the fence. It was also encouraging to see that even if it had went off the wall below the yellow line, Ronald Acuña Jr. probably would’ve scored from first on hit since he was already running before the ball was even hit. Either way, it’s something that you want to see a lot of once the regular season arrives: Matt Olson driving in Ronald Acuña Jr.

Speaking of scoring from first base, that’s exactly what Eddie Rosario did in the fifth inning after reaching base on an error. Eli White entered the game in lieu of Ozzie Albies (who spent the day as the designated hitter and registered a walk while he was in the lineup) and then immediately cracked a double to right-center field. Rosario scored on the play and it was a tie game at that point.

As far as pitching goes, this was a banner of a day for Dylan Dodd. Dodd pitched two innings and picked up three strikeouts while retiring everybody he faced in order. It was also interesting to note that he was not meandering at all, as his stint basically flew by in the blink of an eye due to the pace at which he was working. Darius Vines also had a solid outing, as he went ahead and racked up his three strikeouts in just one inning of work.

The strikeouts came early and often for Braves pitchers, as each pitcher Atlanta sent to the mound in this game recorded at least one strikeout. Still, it wasn’t perfect. Kolby Allard started today’s game and gave up a run on three hits, Jesse Chavez gave up a two-run homer to Bobby Dalbec and then Boston beat up Victor Vodnik for three runs in the top of the eighth inning. There were no walks though, so that's an encouraging sign.

The ninth inning has to be mentioned because it was wacky. The Braves went into the bottom of the ninth down 6-3, but then the chaos began with one out. Ryan Casteel singled to get things going and then Joe Dunand somehow hit a double when Ryan Fitzgerald either badly misjudged a fly ball to the left field corner or the wind tripped him up in awful fashion.

Either way, the Braves suddenly had life and it was extended when Magneuris Sierra hit a chopper off of the home plate circle that went so high that the Red Sox had no play and just a two-run lead by the time it came down. Joey Stock then walked in two consecutive runs and just like that, it was a tie game. The Red Sox went to Robert Kwiatkowski to preserve the tie and things came to a head when Cal Conley had a full count with the bases loaded and two out.

What happened next is something that I honestly never thought I'd write about on this blog: Cal Conley took too much time getting back into the batter's box and was dinged for strike three and the game ended in a tie. Absolutely insane scenes.

When it came to other performances, Michael Harris II and Vaughn Grissom both picked up their first hits of spring training, so here's hoping that they'll continue to rack up the hits as the regular season gets closer and closer. While the game may have been a tie (in absolutely absurd fashion) for the Braves, I think we're all just excited to see the team back in action and also mostly healthy.

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