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?
June was in fact a month for the ages. During the month of June the Atlanta Braves (50-35) compiled a record of (20-8) after Sunday night’s 8-5 loss to the New York Mets. In the 28 games last month, the Braves clubbed a franchise-record 56 homers over the course of the calendar month. That surpassed the previous record of 55, set by the 2003 Braves in May of that year by one. The previous record stood for 16 seasons. Also in the sixth month of 2019, the Braves tabbed Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuña Jr. and Mike Soroka as 2019 National League All-Stars. Soroka and Acuña made Major League Baseball history when they were named to the team. As they are the first pair of players younger than 22-years-old, to be named to the same All-Star team in the same season. But that’s not all Acuña did in June. He will also be the eighth-youngest Brave to ever play in the Midsummer Classic at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio on July 9th. Acuña launched the record-breaking 56th home run in June 437 feet into the orange Flushing, New York skyline. Ronald will also participate in the 2019 MLB Home Run Derby. It’s only fitting that he hit the record-breaking homer. A few weeks back I received a text from a family member asking who I thought would break the franchise-record. My response? Ronald Acuña Jr on June 30th. They seemed to disagree as they thought Vanderbilt alum Dansby Swanson would club the historic homer. I responded to them with “I don’t care who hits it, but I’ve got a feeling it’ll be Ronald Acuña Jr., but either way we’re breaking it.” Little did I know that my prediction would be absolutely spot-on. What a month June was. If June was a prelude into July, then what should we expect in the seventh month of 2019? The next Braves game is Tuesday, July 2, 2019 vs. Philadelphia at 7:20pm ET. The Phillies haven’t named a starter as of right now. Dallas Keuchel makes his third start in a Braves uniform on Tuesday.
For weeks the Atlanta Braves have been hotter than ever. With 55 home runs in the month of June and the best June record across Major League Baseball but that’s not all…with last night’s 5-4 win over the reeling New York Mets, the 2019 Atlanta Braves became the fastest Braves team to reach 50 wins since the 2003 team did so in 77 games. The 2019 squad accomplished that feat in 84 games. The 5t homers in June puts Atlanta within two of breaking that record set back in May of 2003 when the Braves hammered 55 homers. In addition to their on-field success, two Braves were named to the National League All-Star team as starters. Ronald Acuña Jr and Freddie will represent Atlanta at the Midsummer Classic in Cleveland, Ohio at Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland. Manager Brian Snitker was also named an assistant coach for the All-Star Game. As well as several Braves named as National League reserves. With just one more homer tonight, Atlanta would break the franchise record for homers in a calendar month which stands at 55 in May, 2003 as of right now. This team gets hotter as the weather heats up. What’s next for the red-hot Atlanta Braves?
Tuesday, June 11, 2019, is a date that will forever be etched into the Braves history books. The Pittsburgh Pirates (30-36) got the game’s first two runs courtesy of a Josh Bell two-RBI single to center field but that was all that they would be able to muster in the top of the first inning. In the bottom of the second inning, Atlanta found the scoreboard in a big way. As they had two pairs of back-to-back homers within a span of five batters. As Josh Donaldson and Nick Markakis went deep, Austin Riley struck out and then Brian McCann and Ozzie Albies went back-to-back. According to Braves beat writer, Mark Bowman, last night marked the first time the Braves hit four homers in an inning since May 28, 2003. Rafael Furcal, Mark DeRosa and Gary Sheffield began the first inning with back-to-back-to-back homers. Javy Lopez added a two-out shot off the Reds’ Joey Hamilton.
It was also the first time since the Braves moved to Atlanta in 1966 that the Braves had two pairs of back-to-back homers in the same inning from four out of five batters since June 8,1965 when Joe Torre, Felipe Alou, Hank Aaron and Gene Oliver accomplished the same feat in the same five batter span in the 10th inning against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Needless to say, last night was one for the ages. Atlanta went on to win the game 7-5 and improve to (38-29) on the year. The Braves remain tied for first place in the National League East division with the Philadelphia Phillies. With last night’s win, Atlanta has now won five consecutive games. Brian McCann homered twice in last night’s win.
Picture source: Atlanta Braves Twitter.
Austin Riley has been in the major leagues just over a week, eight days to be exact, but he’s playing like he’s been in “The Peach State” all year long. Riley is also making his presence felt not only on the field but also in the clubhouse. To be honest with you, he reminds me a lot of a switch-hitter from DeLand, Florida, Atlanta Braves legend and 2018 National Baseball Hall of Famer, Chipper Jones. Over Austin Riley’s first eight days in the Atlanta clubhouse, he’s had 30 at-bats and has hit to the tune of a .367 average with 4 home runs, 9 RBI, a .406 on-base percentage and a 1.206 OPS. It’s looking like he wants to stay right where he is with Atlanta. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this kid will be special just give him time although he is already proving that he is the spark the Braves needed in the lineup. He’s got a long way to go but he’s proving his worth so far. I just can’t get enough of this kid.