While tonight's game between the Atlanta Braves and the Texas Rangers may not have had anything to do with what transpired over the weekend in Canada, it sure was gratifying to see the Braves snap their losing streak in such dominant fashion. Atlanta poured on the punishment at Globe Life Field, as the offensive explosion led to a comprehensive 12-0 shutout victory over the Rangers.
While the Braves may not have gotten off to their usual first-inning start, they more than made up for it once they eventually got going in the second inning. The first blow was struck by Kevin Pillar, who followed up a leadoff single by Sean Murphy with a one-out bomb to get the Braves on the board. Cody Bradford had just gotten his first career big league strikeout and the good times didn't last for long after that, as Pillar's homer came immediately after the milestone punch-out.
Orlando Arcia then followed it up with a two-out double, which brought Ronald Acuña Jr. to the plate with a man in scoring position. Bradford threw a curveball to Acuña that seemed a little too low to be hit. This ended up being another "Welcome to MLB" moment for Bradford, as Acuña took the low curveball and attached it to a rocket ship destined for the second deck in left field.
The game remained 4-0 until the fifth inning, which is when the Braves began to go on a scoring spree. Orlando Arcia led off the inning with a walk and then Matt Olson hit a gapper into left-center with one out to plate Arcia from first base. That set the stage for Ozzie Albies to cash in Olson's run with a double of his own to make it 6-0.
Orlando Arcia eventually got in on the power-hitting fun in the sixth inning, as it was now Cole Ragans’ turn to somehow find a way to slow down Atlanta's offensive onslaught. Ragans was also a left-handed pitcher, which meant that he was in for a bad night with the way the Braves were swinging the bat this evening. Arcia took the sixth pitch he saw from Ragans and hit it off of the advertising boards at the base of the second deck in left field and did it with Michael Harris II on base. It was 8-0 and the Braves were now running away with it.
The scoring spree for the Braves continued on into the seventh inning, as it became apparent that Cole Ragans was being tasked with "wearing it" for the evening. Matt Olson got things going in the seventh with a walk, and eventually Austin Riley came up to the plate with Olson on first and one out. While Austin Riley has hit some big homers in this stadium in the past, the one he hit tonight just had to feel good in terms of getting something going. He skied one towards opposite field and into the bullpen in right-center to put the Braves into double digits in the run column for the evening.
Cole Ragans and the Rangers were finally able to silence Atlanta's bats in the eighth inning but by then, the damage had surely been done. It also didn't help matters for Texas that Charlie Morton had another solid start on the mound. The Braves have needed him to be a consistent veteran presence in the rotation and he's done just that so far — Morton made it into the seventh inning in this one and eventually finished with 6.2 shutout innings where he gave up seven hits but only surrendered one walk and racked up 10 strikeouts (with 23 swings-and-misses) along the way. This was arguably Morton's best start of the season and it's exactly what the Braves are going to need with their rotation being in the state that it's currently in.
The horror show for the Rangers only came to a merciful end in the ninth inning, as they went to catcher Sandy León to bring the game to a close as far as their pitching was concerned. León got the first two batters out, but then he hit Sean Murphy with a pitch and then Marcell Ozuna received a "changeup" that was high and in the zone. Ozuna stayed hot by taking advantage of the meatball and crushing it in order to make it 12-0 Braves.
Danny Young entered the game in relief for Charlie Morton with two outs in the seventh inning and kept the shutout going all the way through to the end of the game. This game was about as emphatic of a slump-buster as anybody could ask for. Not only did they collect their fifth shutout win of the season, they did it while their offense unleashed a full-on assault of Texas’ left-handed pitching arsenal on the evening. The uncharacteristic losing streak has come to an end after four games and the Braves will be looking to get a streak going in the other direction starting with tomorrow night's game at 8:05 PM E.T.