Thanks to a pair of homers from Michael Harris II and a very good night on the mound from Spencer Strider, the Atlanta Braves were able to bounce back and get back to winning ways with a 5-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.
The First inning Braves made an appearance tonight but this time they didn’t get the usual explosion of offense that we’ve come to expect from their opening innings this season. Instead, the Braves had to “settle” for just the one run. Ronald Acuña Jr. did get on base but the Angels stymied his attempt to add to his already-whopping stolen base record on the season as Patrick Sandoval was able to get him caught in a rundown in his attempt to steal second. However, two straight singles culminated with Matt Olson hitting a sacrifice fly to bring home Ozzie Albies for the first run of the game.
We did indeed get the advertised pitcher's duel, as both Spencer Strider and Patrick Sandoval were very tough to beat on the night. Strider was up to his usual tricks again, which means that he was striking out a ton of guys while also keeping walks to a minimum. It was smooth sailing for Strider for the most part while he was out there, which also included a pair of strikeouts against Shohei Ohtani. Doing that alone qualifies for a solid night, but Strider also added seven strikeouts to those two to make it nine on the night. Strider didn't reach double digits but he did make it eight straight starts where he's struck out at least nine batters.
The lone run on Strider's record for the night came in the fifth on a grounder that could've been turned into an inning-ending double play if it had been hit just a little bit closer to the reach of Strider's glove. Instead, Zach Neto was able to beat the throw from second to first base to squash the double play while also bringing in the game-tying run. Strider got out of the inning with no further damage and ended up going 6.2 innings on the night. Strider continues to be the top guy in Atlanta's rotation and one of the biggest reasons why the Braves’ pitching staff has been able to thrive for as long as they have without both Max Fried and Kyle Wright.
The game didn't remain tied for long, though. The Braves responded at their first opportunity to do so, and this came with Patrick Sandoval still in the game. Michael Harris II came up to the plate with one out in the fifth inning and got a sweeper from Sandoval that was high and in the zone. Money Mike made no mistake with it and promptly cashed it in for a home run to deep right center field to put the Braves back in front.
The Braves weren't done there, as they eventually added onto their lead once the seventh inning rolled around. Eddie Rosario came in to pinch hit once the left-handed Sandoval exited the game and the right-handed Jacob Webb had entered the contest and Rosario got a knock to announce his presence in the game. Orlando Arcia then conjured up some more Orlando Magic by smacking a two-run shot to left-center to give the Braves some much-needed breathing room.
While everybody was still celebrating Arcia's shot, Michael Harris II decided to let everybody know that he wasn't done hitting dingers tonight. He hit the first pitch he saw into the forest in center field to make it back-to-back jacks for the Braves. In the span of two pitches, this game went from being a tight 2-1 contest to a comfortable 5-1 lead for Atlanta.
Joe Jiménez came in to relieve Spencer Strider and simply retired the final batter of the seventh inning in order to get out of the frame while also preserving Strider's line at just one earned run allowed. A.J. Minter made another appearance and it went just as well as his return appearance from the IL went — he gave up one hit and struck out a batter without giving up any runs. Raisel Iglesias was called upon for the ninth inning and he sat down the Angels in very quick 1-2-3 fashion to end the game and lock up yet another win for the Braves.
Atlanta's now tied the three-game series with the Angels and have a chance at pulling off the series victory with a win in tomorrow's matinee day game. It'll be an interesting contest since the Angels will be starting newly-acquired Lucas Giolito and the Braves will be going with Yonny Chirinos. With that being said, if Michael Harris II and the rest of Atlanta's offense shows up like they did tonight then it's always wise to back the Braves in any game that they play.