Ozzie Albies had a huge night for the Braves tonight, as he homered for the fourth consecutive game. His homer tonight had a huge impact on the result of the game, as he helped lead the Braves to an 8-5 win over the Nationals.
The first inning was a sign of things to come for Max Fried, in that he didn’t look particularly good but still managed to limit whatever damage the Nationals tried to inflict upon the scoreboard. Fried saw Alcides Escobar and Juan Soto both reach base and then Carter Kieboom brought home Escobar with a two-out RBI single to put the Nats on the board first. Fried got the next batter out and so began six innings of gutting it out for him.
Fortunately, Fried’s teammates had his back and immediately got that run back — and then some. Ozzie Albies started off what would be a big night for him by coaxing a leadoff walk out of Paolo Espino and Freddie Freeman eventually followed that up with a one-out single. Soon, Adam Duvall came to the plate with two outs and when Espino threw him a meaty-looking hanger right in the middle of the zone, Duvall made no mistake with it and sent it flying into the September night sky.
Duvall’s homer made it 3-1 and the Braves would extend it to 5-1 going into the sixth inning after scoring one run in both the third and the fourth inning. The fourth inning’s run was driven in by Travis d’Arnaud, who smacked a double into center field. The ball actually got past Lane Thomas in center, but he was able to recover and throw out Duvall at home to save a run for the Nationals. The Braves got that run in the fourth inning after Ozzie Albies brought Dansby Swanson home on a sacrifice fly. Things were going well and the Braves had a pretty comfortable lead at that point.
By the time the seventh inning had rolled around, Max Fried had gutted out a six-inning outing while somehow keeping the Nationals to just that one run. Things changed significantly in the seventh inning, which is when Tyler Matzek entered the game. While Matzek’s last outing in Colorado went well, he did not have a fun time in Los Angeles and he had an even worse time on his return home to Cobb County.
The Nats started the seventh with a walk then two straight singles — the second one being an RBI from Juan Soto that brought Washington within three. Matzek retired the next two batters in order, but fell victim to the baseball gods just deciding that the Nationals were due to make this game get really interesting. On a 95-mph heater that was high and out of the zone, Yadiel Hernandez somehow smacked it and sent it floating into the grass past the fence in left-center field for a game-tying three-run homer.
The tenuous comfort that was felt while Max Fried was on the mound gave way to palpable stress as the Nationals had scored four runs on Matzek to run him from the game. Luke Jackson finished the seventh and also retired the Nationals in order for good measure in the eighth.
That eighth inning ended up being stress-free for the Braves because once again, the lineup had their pitchers’ backs in this one. Ozzie Albies in particular continued what was a very big night, as he made an interesting decision to bat right-handed against right-handed reliever Ryne Harper. The choice ended up being the right one in more ways than one, as Ozzie got all of a curveball and sent it into the seats to promptly put the Braves back in front.
To cap off his massive night, Ozzie even added an RBI single in the ninth inning to give the Braves a little bit of insurance. All that was needed now was for Will Smith to come on and finish things for the save. After plunking Juan Soto with one out for our prerequisite baserunner in a Will Smith Appearance™, Smith tossed one pitch to Josh Bell, who promptly and appropriately grounded the ball to Ozzie Albies, who stepped on the bag for one and tossed it to Freddie Freeman for two to end the game and put the Braves back at nine wins over .500 on the year.
This ended up being a productive night indeed, as the Phillies saw their 12-0 victory in Milwaukee yesterday get nearly reversed in a 10-0 loss to the Brewers tonight. As far as tomorrow is concerned, the Braves will once again have an opportunity to gain some more ground on their competition and also pick up a series win on the Nationals. This is an extremely important homestand, and the Braves have started things off on the right foot by getting the job done tonight.
P.S., Ozzie, Ozzie, Ozzie!