Matt Olson continued to mash during what’s been an incredibly productive spring training for the veteran first baseman. This time, Olson put on a show when it came to power as he clubbed two dingers in a spring victory for the Atlanta Braves over the Boston Red Sox.
Olson wasted no time getting going in this one. He was the second name in the lineup and with one out in the first inning, he was cleared for liftoff at the expense of Tanner Houck. By the time Olson’s home run landed, it was out to the batter’s eye in center field and there was absolutely no doubt about it being a dinger. The homer put the Braves ahead and both Olson and the rest of the lineup weren’t done hitting for the day, either.
Matt Olson returned to the plate in the fifth inning for his third at-bat of the game after grounding out in his second AB. Perhaps feeling that too much time had elapsed since his most recent home run to date, Olson got an opportunity to add to his homer tally when Tanner Houck hung one in the center of the zone. Atlanta’s first baseman didn’t miss his chance and promptly sent the baseball clear out of the ballpark to make things 4-0 in favor of the Braves.
We are busting out the audio for this one. Matt Olson GARGANTUAN blast leaves the stadium for his SECOND homer of the game. 1.538 OPS this Spring pic.twitter.com/1UBDY89KV0— Gaurav (@gvedak) March 17, 2023
I think we all know that Matt Olson is not going to keep up this pace since it’s spring training and it’s always wise to take spring performances with a grain of salt. With that being said, it’s definitely exciting to see Olson hitting so well during this stint. He’s got 12 hits and five homers through just 27 at-bats so far and if this somehow leads to Olson coming out of the regular season gate with anything close to this level of production then we’re all going to be having a lovely time watching this man do some mashing. Here’s hoping that this is, in fact, a sign of things to come instead of being a spring mirage.
Meanwhile, Jared Shuster continued to make a strong case for being including on Atlanta’s Opening Day roster. Shuster tossed four innings of scoreless baseball where he only gave up three hits, walked one batter, hit one batter and struck out seven batters during those innings. Shuster did run into a bases-loaded jam in the first inning, but he was able to get out of it thanks to utilizing a really nice changeup and slider on his way to taking the scenic route of striking out the side.
Once he escaped the jam, Jared Shuster cruised from then on out. Shuster only let one Red Sox batter reach base for the rest of his outing and he added four strikeouts to the three that he racked up in the first inning, alone. Shuster’s performances this spring have been really encouraging and this performance today did a lot to justify the roster decisions that were made recently. He’s got a really good chance of being the fifth starter in Atlanta’s rotation, which would be a pleasant surprise.
Jared Shuster's 7Ks in 4 IP. pic.twitter.com/KZQeKlDzWy— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 17, 2023
Another pitcher who continued to make his case for joining the Braves once the regular season starts is Nick Anderson. The former Rays reliever hasn’t been seen at the major league level since 2021 but if he continues to toss scoreless innings like he has during this spring, then his return to the bigs appears to be imminent. Anderson entered the game in the fifth inning and immediately induced a double play to get the first two outs of the fifth. That ended up being the first of two double plays induced by Anderson, who left the game with two scoreless innings and a strikeout under his belt.
Straight gas from Nick Anderson in this strikeout of our old friend Adam Duvall.— Gaurav (@gvedak) March 17, 2023
He then followed it up by inducing a double play and getting out of the inning pic.twitter.com/GwKQNMeV4G
It was a productive day at the plate for the Braves, as all of the starters in the lineup reached base at least once. Ozzie Albies got himself an RBI single right before Matt Olson’s second dinger of the day, Michael Harris II got on base twice with a pair of singles, Sean Murphy got a hit and then Austin Riley and Marcell Ozuna each got on base with walks.
Kevin Pillar continued to bolster his case for a bench spot as he picked up a hit and scored a run. Braden Shewmake has been getting an extended look at shortstop and he picked up two hits today as well. It’s doubtful that he’s going to be winning the position battle over Vaughn Grissom but it’s still nice to see what he’s got while giving him some reps as we start reaching the tail end of spring training.
This eventually added up to the Braves picking up the win in shutout fashion, as they defeated the Red Sox 8-0. Following another great effort on the mound from Jared Shuster, Dylan Dodd will get a chance to respond tomorrow evening as the Braves host the Phillies at CoolToday Park. If Dodd can keep up with Shuster then we’re going to have one doozy of a battle for the fifth and final rotation spot once Opening Day arrives.