We all know that the Braves have had some struggles this year, very few of them, but they’ve still had them. Particularly with the Washington Nationals, who Atlanta will visit for three games beginning Monday night at 6:05pm CT. You might ask ‘What are we going to do with the absence of Dansby Swanson and Nick Markakis?” I might have your answer. Granted it was a small sample-size during the weekend series in Philadelphia, Ender Inciarte and Adam Duvall could play huge roles in the absence of these two stars. Your next question might be ‘How in the world did we avoid Scherzer for two series?’ Mad Max, as he is known is dealing with a mid-back strain and wasn’t healthy enough for his Tuesday start as of Sunday. But that doesn’t mean he won’t be back until then. His status for Tuesday is a toss-up. A lot of you have been asking me this: “What would a series sweep over Washington mean for the Braves?” It’s simple. Granted the Braves split their most recent series with Washington in Atlanta, the Nationals didn’t game any ground in the standings. Which is a good thing in the case of the Braves. Sweeping Washington would mean seven straight games against the Nationals gaining any ground in the standings, which would be both a big boost for the Braves and a big blow for Washington.
Coming into this weekend series against the Phillies, Atlanta was fresh off a two-game sweep courtesy of the Kansas City Royals. However, the Braves looked to be in mid-season form during the weekend in Philadelphia or what some may call “pre All-Star break” form. Friday night, Atlanta picked up a much-needed 9-2 win and on Saturday, the bats came to life and the Phillies never really had a chance from the start. Winning Saturday’s contest 15-7. A big part of that was an Ozzie Albies 3rd inning grand slam. The slam was Ozzie’s 15th homer of the year. Even though the Braves couldn’t win on Sunday, I think you have to feel really confident taking two of 3 from Philadelphia and head to Washington D.C. with a series win. Atlanta is now (62-44) on the year and 5.5 games ahead of Washington. One big impact was Ronald Acuña exiting the Sunday game with neck tightness and gave way to Charlie Culberson. Brian Snitker said Ronald Acuña “checked out good, we’ll just wait until tomorrow to see how he feels.” Snitker also said he thinks there is a chance that the All-Star center fielder could play on Monday night in Washington. On to Washington, my friends! Monday’s game will feature Dallas Keuchel taking the mound for Atlanta and Patrick Corbin getting the nod for the Nationals. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05pm CT from Nationals Park in Washington D.C.
Picture: The Sports Herald-Morganton.
Some might say that the two-game sweep against the Kansas City Royals, the second-worst team in Major League Baseball, trailing only Baltimore, was destined to happen or that it’s the same thing in a different year. But personally, I think it’s just what the Braves needed to light a fire under themselves and right the ship against the two team that have been in the taillights of the Braves for a number of months now. I mentioned it to a friend the other night and I’ll say it again “Baseball is a beautifully, cruel game, you’re going to lose games that you’re supposed to win at some point every season. That’s just how it works.” You might also say “The Braves always choke after the All-Star break.” Or “I told you this would happen it always does.” But, what you critics fail to realize is this. The 2019 Braves lineup is one of the most potent lineups in baseball behind maybe the Dodgers. These guys were picked third in the preseason but yet, look where they are. This team loves playing under pressure, that’s when they play their best. Personally, I think the best is only months away. Friday’s game will feature two of the best pitchers in baseball in Mike Soroka and Jake Arietta going head-to-head in “The City of Brotherly Love” at 6:05pm CT.
Early on in the 2019 season if you had told me that Josh Donaldson would be putting up the kind of numbers that he has produced since the All-Star break has ended I would’ve probably laughed, honestly. But to my surprise, the Auburn University alum has been nothing short of scorching hot since then and he continued that hot streak on Friday night in a walk-off win for the Braves against the Washington Nationals at SunTrust Park, when he absolutely scorched the game-winning hit off of Nationals relief pitcher, Fernando Rodney in the ninth inning to left-center field that brought home Ronald Acuña Jr. and raised the Braves record to (59-40). The last 62 games of the 2019 regular season will be extremely critical for Atlanta as 22 percent of their remaining games come against these talented Washington Nationals. What can we expect from Josh Donaldson over the last 62 games of the regular season?
It had been a long time since the Atlanta Braves won a series in San Diego against the San Diego Padres, eight years to be exact. Their last series win in San Diego was back in 2011, when I was in the eighth grade. Eight years might not seem like a long time to us now, but in the sports world, it’s an eternity. The Braves snapped that eight-year drought with a 7-5 win in 10 innings on Saturday thanks to Nick Markakis, who leapt from the right field warning track to save the Braves 56th win of the year. On Sunday, it wasn’t much different, in the fifth inning, All-Star centerfielder, Ronald Acuña Jr. played the role of Superman as he left his feet on the center field warning track, landing almost over the wall, robbing Padres slugger, Manny Machado of a two-run home run that would’ve given San Diego a 2-0 lead. Mike Soroka was his usual self, shutting out the Friars through 7 innings. In the eighth inning, the Atlanta Braves plated four runs. In the bottom of that inning, Touki Toussaint surrendered a run, but held Andy Greene’s club right there and turned things over to AJ Minter to slam the door and preserve the Braves first series sweep in San Diego in 13 years, yes 13 years. I was eight the last time Atlanta swept the Padres on the road, I was also in the third grade. Atlanta has now won four-straight games and boards a plane bound for Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to begin a three-game set at Miller Park with the Milwaukee Brewers, Monday through Wednesday. Tomorrow’s game starts at 7:10pm CT and will pit Max Fried against Adrian Houser against each other. The Braves are now (57-37) on the season. Good things are worth waiting for my friends.
It’s that time again, the time when the world’s most elite baseball players go head-to-head for one night. It all starts with the 2019 MLB Home Run Derby with some of the game’s most vaunted sluggers, one of those vaunted sluggers is Atlanta’s own, Ronald Acuña Jr. Acuna Jr. has 21 homers and is responsible for shattering two Atlanta franchise-records, the franchise-record for homers in a month, which was broken in June 2019 when Atlanta sent a total of 56 baseballs over walls all across the country. The record was fittingly broken by Acuña Jr. at home on Sunday, June 30, 2019. Ronald is also responsible for breaking the franchise-record for breaking the franchise-record for most homers hit by a Braves team before the All-Star break, when he belted the 141st homer of the year on July 6, 2019 vs. Miami’s Caleb Smith on the first pitch of his first inning at bat. It seems fitting that the 21-year-old is an all-star right? He also caught the last first-half out for Atlanta on July 7, 2019 to help preserve the Braves 4-3 win over the Fish. In addition to Acuña Jr., the Braves are sending first baseman Freddie Freeman and 21-year-old starting pitcher Mike Soroka to Cleveland. Soroka and Acuña Jr. will become the youngest pair of teammates to ever be on All-Star rosters in its 90-year history, Acuña Jr. will also be the youngest Home Run Derby participant ever. The Home Run Derby will start at 7pm CT on July 8, 2019 followed by the 90th MLB All-Star Game at 6:30 p.m. CT on Fox on July 9, 2019. What should we expect from the second-half of the season?
On July 1, 1939, Walter Banks was introduced to the world. Walter has been an usher for the Atlanta Braves for 54 years. Banks joined the Braves security staff in the offseason 1965, just in time for the team’s transition from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Atlanta, Georgia. Since 1966, Banks has been a mainstay at Braves’ home games, attended over 4,000 games and shaken the hands of approximately 400,000 thousand fans, who ended up being a friend of his by the end of the night. I am one of those lucky 400,000. Back in August of 2012, August 13, 2012 to be exact, my dad and I took a trip to Atlanta to see Braves play the San Diego Padres in Chipper Jones’ last season. I wasn’t expecting to meet an usher that had been with the Braves for 46 years at the time. We got to Turner Field that day as soon as the gates opened and we needed help finding our seats, six rows away from the Braves’ dugout along the first baseline. So we approached this nice-looking, black gentleman and asked him for assistance in helping us find our seats. He shook our hands and showed us to our seats, at the time, I had no clue how long he had been with the Braves. A few minutes later, he made sure to stop by our seats to check on us, we told him we were fine. He then asked us “Where are you from?” We replied: “Montgomery, Alabama.” Because very few people know where Wetumpka is. He then asked dad: “When were you born?” I’m sure that dad didn’t know how to take that, but he replied “1968.” And then came the knowledge. He said “I’ve been with the Braves since they moved to Atlanta in 1966.” I was mesmerized. So I asked him, “Were you there the night Hank Aaron hit his 755th home run?” He replied: “I was I’ve never seen anything like it, that night was incredible.” At this point, I was speechless. Then he asked me “What year were you born?” I replied: “1997.” He enthusiastically said “You were born two years after we won the only World Series title in Atlanta Braves history, right across the road at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.” (The stadium had since been turned into a public parking lot for Braves fans). After a while, he asked “Who is your favorite player?” Without hesitation, I said “Chipper Jones.” He said “Chipper has been a member of the Atlanta Braves since 1993 and will someday be in the Hall of Fame.” A while passed and he said “Hang on, I’ll be right back, stay here.” I noticed that he had gone down to the Braves dugout, but the Braves were taking batting practice so I wasn’t sure what he must be doing. He came back after a minute and said “I got you something.” With his hand behind his back. I was curious to see what he had gotten me. He took his hand out from behind his back and in his hand was a baseball from the Braves dugout. I thanked him and then asked for a picture with him. He obliged immediately, saying “Absolutely!” I still have the ball on a shelf and I also still have the picture of myself with Walter. I chose to write this today because tonight, the Braves are giving away Walter Banks bobbleheads to honor the beloved usher of 54 seasons. If you ever get the chance, go to.a Braves game in Atlanta and ask for Walter Banks, you won’t be disappointed. Happy 80th Birthday, my dear friend, Walter! Braves Country loves you!