The hope for some time has been that once April turns into May, the Big Bear would be ready to come out of hibernation and seize the day.
This is exactly what Marcell Ozuna has decided to do tonight.
With Max Fried returning to the mound and last night’s long-awaited win, the Braves had a lot of positive momentum heading into tonight’s game. Facing Erick Fedde for the second time this season, the Braves also faced a pitcher they had been successful against on several occasions in the past. However, the start of the game went both quickly and quietly.
In the first two innings, Fried and Fedde looked efficient. The only baserunner in either round was Yan Gomes via a single. Both pitchers worked their shots and managed to throw hitters off balance, a stark contrast to the last game between Fried and Fedde.
However, at the top of the third, the Braves decided it was time to make some noise.
In fact, make a lot of noise. With goals loaded and two strikeouts, Marcell Ozuna had his third home run of the season for a grand slam, the Braves second in as many nights and third in their last four games. This gave Atlanta a 4-0 lead and provided another example that the Braves’ offense as a whole is starting to come to life.
After the Nationals quietly collapsed again in the bottom of the third, the Braves decided to add some confidence in the form of William Contreras’ first home run as the Brave. With Travis d’Arnaud for the foreseeable future, the hope is that Contreras will be able to deliver as the Braves’ main receiver. The Nationals decided to generate some offense on their own at the bottom of the fourth inning, as Yan Gomes logged in for his third homerun to bring the score to 5-1.
After the Braves were held scoreless in the fifth inning, Trea Turner went home with two and one strikeout against Fried. In what some may consider a miracle, Fried ended his excellent comeback with a late-inning double play. On the night, Fried completed five innings, allowing four hits and one walk while producing six strikeouts. His only flaw was to allow the home run in Gomes. Fried only threw 72 pitches, 45 of which were strikes. It was certainly an encouraging outing for Fried and the Braves.
Neither the Braves nor the Nationals had much success in the sixth and seventh innings. However, the Nationals were ready to attempt a comeback in the eighth inning. Turner took a bit of revenge against Josh Tomlin with a two-run home run to bring the score to 5-3. The Nationals then charged up the bases with two outs as Victor Robles went home. While Tomlin and AJ Minter decided to make things interesting, Minter brought out Victor Robles to end the threat. The ninth inning was kept quiet as Will Smith secured his sixth stoppage of the season and the Braves claimed a much-needed 5-3 victory.
The Braves’ success came in a much needed form, as Ozuna provided the offense while Fried shone in his debut. If the Braves can continue to be successful with runners on base, that will be a very encouraging development as May progresses. In support of their ace, Atlanta picked up a series victory over an opponent from NL East to start May. It’s a much better start than April and hopefully it will lead to a very successful month overall.