Darius Vines was excellent in his major league debut and the Braves slugged their 250th home run of the season as they dispelled of the Rockies on Wednesday night, 7-3.
Vines was superb from the opening inning. Armed with a nasty changeup and well-located fastball, Vines kept hitters off balance all evening and limited the damage to just two runs and four hits over six innings. He struck out five and walked only one. It was a terrific showing, especially in a ballpark notorious for being a hitter’s paradise.
With the schedule, the Braves could opt to keep Vines with the big league club and have him make a start at home on Tuesday against the struggling Cardinals. He certainly deserves another start after his performance Wednesday night.
Kevin Pillar, who has played sparingly the last two months due to a lack of opposing left-handed starters, got the offense going in the third with a 443 footer to center field. It was the first homer since May 30 for the veteran outfielder.
With the score tied in the fourth, the Braves benefitted from (continued) poor defense from the Rockies infield. Marcell Ozuna bounced into what should have been a routine 6-4-3 double play, but an errant throw from shortstop Ezequiel Tovar allowed a run to come around and score. Another run would score on a Travis d’Arnaud fielder’s choice to make it 3-1.
Ronald Acuña Jr. made a tremendous diving catch in the fifth to prevent a run from scoring and keep the two-run lead.
In the sixth, the Braves’ offense exploded as it has done so many times this year. And they broke a franchise record in the process.
Marcell Ozuna continued his remarkable turnaround season with a no-doubter to left field, and after d’Arnaud walked, Orlando Arcia launched one to the left field seats to make it 6-1. It was the 250th home run of the season for the Braves, a new franchise record.
Vines gave way to Michael Tonkin, who worked the seventh and gave up a solo homer to make it 7-3. Kirby Yates ran into trouble in the eighth, but a strikeout and pop fly with two in scoring position calmed things down. Raisel Iglesias closed things out in the ninth.
The Braves are 87-45. The Phillies lost on Wednesday, so the magic number for the NL East is 17 with a month to go.
The Braves now head to southern California for a key four-game showdown with the first-place Dodgers. It will be the first meeting between the two clubs since late-May. With both teams in the hunt for the No. 1 seed in the National League, all eyes will be on Dodger Stadium.
The series kicks off with Spencer Strider (15-4, 3.46 ERA) facing off with Lance Lynn, who owns a 2.03 ERA across 5 starts with his new club, although a 4.69 FIP suggests tougher times are ahead. First pitch at 10:10 p.m. ET.