Ozzie Albies and Charlie Culberson both had four-hit days today. Two of Ozzie’s hits were home runs, and they were vital in helping push the Braves to a series-clinching win over the AL Central leaders.
For the second day in a row, the Braves offense jumped on Minnesota’s pitching. Instead of it happening immediately, the offense came almost immediately. It wasn’t Ronald Acuna Jr. who hit another home run to lead off the game (though his homer would come later), but instead it was the second batter of the game. Ozzie Albies began what turned into a huge day for himself by absolutely crushing the first pitch he saw into the seats in left center to start the scoring for the Braves.
Atlanta didn’t stop there during the first inning, either. The very next pitch that Martin Perez threw was to Freddie Freeman and Freddie promptly deposited it into the bullpen for Atlanta’s 12th-different instance of back-to-back home runs this season. The Braves added two more runs with one out, as Charlie Culberson actually got to do some early-game damage for a change. He hit a gapper for a double that brought home Adam Duvall from first base.
For the second day in a row, the Braves starter was gifted with a lead before he threw a pitch and Max Fried did his best to make sure that lead wasn’t squandered. While the box score will say that he “only” went 5.1 innings and was credited with three earned runs, he was clearly on his game today and he proved it by racking up 10 strikeouts with only one walk. You’ll always take that type of performance on a day where the Braves offense definitely came to play at the plate.
The third inning was an interesting one because while the Braves did finish the inning with three runs scored, it could have been more. Four singles, a walk, an error, and a passed ball is how the Braves got their three runs in the third inning and it sure seemed like they were on track to get some more. The bases were loaded with nobody out for Tyler Flowers and he rolled a grounder down the left field line. Miguel Sano got to it, quickly tapped his foot on third base and then the Twins threw it around the diamond for a 5-4-3 triple play. Yep, that happened
The @Twins have turned multiple triple plays in a season for the 1st time since 1990.— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) August 7, 2019
Martín Pérez is also the 1st AL pitcher to be on the mound for multiple triple plays in a season since Mark Buehrle in 2006. pic.twitter.com/hF6l7igT0c
Fortunately, the baseball gods didn’t punish the Braves for squandering a bases-loaded, nobody-out chance in such calamitous fashion, as Max Fried threw a clean shutdown inning in the bottom of the third. He did run into a bit of trouble in the fourth when the Twins got runners on second and third with two out, but he dodged a major bullet when Ender Inciarte was able to get to a screaming line drive from Miguel Sano to end the inning right then and there.
Fried didn’t run into any more trouble until the sixth inning and by then, the Braves had already added another run on the board to make it 7-0 going into the bottom of the sixth. The solo dinger came from none other than Ozzie Albies, and that was his second homer of the day and his fourth hit on the afternoon as well. The Twins are not going to miss seeing the Braves offense in general, but they especially won’t miss seeing Ozzie Albies destroy their pitching.
Every pitch you make, Albies launching you pic.twitter.com/troFSdCcyW— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) August 7, 2019
Max Fried’s day ended in the sixth and his two extra earned runs came when Luke Jackson needed 14 pitches to get the final two outs of that inning. That turned out to be the only real shaky point for the bullpen today. Anthony Swarzak and Chris Martin both threw clean innings in the seventh and eighth innings, respectively. It was honestly refreshing to see after they struggled to keep the Twins offense down when they were supposedly out last night. Don’t worry, we still got our daily dose of bullpen annoyance — just wait on it.
While Minnesota’s offense may have been done for the day, Atlanta’s offense wasn’t. Both the eighth and ninth innings were fruitful for the Braves. Ronald Acuña shook off a painful at-bat where he fouled a ball off of his shin by hitting a massive two-run dinger in the eighth inning, then Johan Camargo rose from his slumber and brought home both Charlie Culberson (who had a four-hit day of his own) and Josh Donaldson.
The four runs for the Braves across the final two innings of the game made it 11-3 in Atlanta’s favor. However, the Twins managed to get within striking distance with two outs after Josh Tomlin gave up four runs in the ninth inning — with three of them coming from a home run from Miguel Sano. Just like the Twins won’t miss Ozzie, the Braves will not miss Sano. Anyways, Mark Melancon entered the game and got the final out to give the Braves their 68th win of the season.
The win served as another series win for the Braves an an emphatic one as well — they went into the home stadium of the AL Central-leading Twins and put up 26 runs over the three games, with 23 of them coming in the two wins. They’re back at 20 games over .500 and will be heading to Miami for what should hopefully be four productive games.