That’s so baseball: go 104 plate appearances with the bases full and zero grand slams, finally connect on one... and what do you know? Two days later, Freddie Freeman slammed the Washington Nationals again, giving the Braves a 7-1 lead and helping them secure a series split on Labor Day weekend.
Freeman’s second grand slam of the series came with the Braves already holding a 3-1 lead in the sixth. They trailed early on a second-inning single by Eric Thames, which scored Brock Holt from first with two outs. (No, that prior sequence did not include a typo.) But, they quickly jumped ahead in the fourth, as Adam Duvall and Tyler Flowers hit back-to-back one-out doubles following an Austin Riley single. Flowers’ two-run two-bagger just evaded a sliding attempt by Adam Eaton near the right-field line, but he was stranded at second. The Braves then tacked on a third run when Marcell Ozuna obliterated a hanging Patrick Corbin slider into left field for a solo homer.
Overall, this game was a continuation of Corbin’s recent struggles. He did manage to whiff six Braves in 5 1⁄3 innings of work, but he also walked four and had nine hits tallied off of him. He left multiple runners on in the second and third before the Braves got to him in the fourth, and would’ve allowed more runs had Ozuna’s third-inning smash not been hit right to the shortstop for an inning-ending groundout, or had Freeman not flown out to left with the bases loaded in the fourth. In the sixth, Corbin left after giving up a one-out single to Adeiny Hechavarria and a walk to Ronald Acuña Jr. New reliever Kyle Finnegan walked Dansby Swanson to load the bases, and Freeman went boom in the four-run fashion:
Finnegan couldn’t even finish the inning — he ended up getting just one out and left after a hit-by-pitch and a walk, though the Braves didn’t score again.
Meanwhile, Josh Tomlin had racked up six one-run frames in his best start of the season. Tomlin literally yielded nothing but the two hits in the second and a squibber of a single in the fifth; with Brian Snitker pushing his luck in a 3-1 game by letting him face the top of the order for a third time in the sixth, Tomlin had an eight-pitch inning with a strikeout and two weak groundouts.
The Braves weren’t done after Freeman’s slam, either. They counted three more runs off Dakota “A-” Bacus in the seventh in wild fashion: Bacus walked Flowers, got a double play, walked Acuña, and gave up a bloop to Swanson. He then battled Freeman for an insane 14 pitches, including five straight fouls on 3-2, before finally walking him. Naturally, Ozuna then jumped on his very next pitch and cleared the bases with a double that Eaton couldn’t flag down in right center.
A lot of people made jokes that after the bullpen management the Braves displayed in losing each of the past two games, of course someone like Chris Martin would end up pitching in a blowout in the seventh. That’s pretty much what happened: Martin appeared in a six-run game and had no issues. Darren O’Day followed with a scoreless eighth. Bryse Wilson came on for the ninth and kept alive the streak of a recent callup pitching in the Braves’ final inning, but despite allowing four straight to reach to open the frame, finally got three outs to end the game with a 10-3 score.
Every Brave had a lot of fun offensively but Travis d’Arnaud, who went 0-for-4 with a hit-by-pitch. The Nationals got nine hits, but just two extra-base hits, and both came off Wilson.
The Braves will play a Labor Day afternoon matchup with the Marlins tomorrow. With the Phillies getting crushed even worse (14-1) by the Mets this afternoon, the Braves’ division lead is now three games.
P.S. In addition to everything else, this game featured a requisite dose of 2020 weirdness. At one point, a human who was either Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo, character actor Mike O’Malley, someone else altogether (probably named Mike), or a cardboard cutout come to life appeared somewhere in the stadium. His reason for appearance: unknown, though perhaps to suck out crew chief Joe West’s soul. The game actually stopped as Joe West... called security? ejected the cardboard cutout-Pinocchio? It’s unclear if the situation was ever resolved, but play resumed nonetheless.