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?
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?
For weeks leading up to the trip to Miami, Florida, I was anxious and ready for a vacation. When Thursday came, I went to work and then went to Birmingham to spend the night before boarding a plane for my very first flight on Friday. We reached Miami at 12:16pm eastern time. I was hoping to pay a visit to Marlins Park, as the Braves just so happened to be in Miami for a three-game series the same weekend that I was in town. Friday night, my dad and I took an Uber 5.8 miles down the road to Marlins Park. The starting pitchers? None other than Mike Soroka and Jose Ureña. If you remember what Ureña did to Ronald Acuña Jr. last season, you know that it was only right that Acuña take him deep out of the park. That started what was a short night for the Miami pitcher. Giving up six runs in four innings. For Atlanta, Mike Soroka, arguably Atlanta’s hottest pitcher right now, tied a career-high in innings pitched, giving up three hits, one run, one earned run, yielding two walks and striking out six while lowering his season earned-run-average to 1.38. Atlanta wound up walloping the Marlins 7-1. On Saturday, we ate Cuban food. On Sunday, we took a walk down historic Ocean Drive and hit the club that night. Needless to say Miami didn’t disappoint at all.
It was 2013 and I had no clue, at the time, that the place I had always loved visiting for baseball, and even just passing by on the road would close to baseball operations just three years later, in 2016. This game and season was a little bit on the weird side for me, as my favorite player, Chipper Jones, had just retired in 2012. I wasn’t sure what I would do with myself since Chipper had gone into retirement. I realized one day that the Braves would be hosting the San Diego Padres on August 13, so I told my dad that I wanted to go since it was summertime and I didn’t have school. He agreed and ordered the tickets immediately. When August 13th got here, I woke up quickly and reminded dad that it was game day. He rolled over and nodded his head, half asleep. I went back to my room and quickly got dressed. When we arrived in Atlanta, we went to the stadium in time to catch batting practice for both teams. We were walking towards our seats and an usher walks up behind us and says “Do y’all need any help finding your seats?” Dad and I looked at each other and agreed that we needed assistance in finding our seats. The usher led us to our seats just above the Braves first base dugout and we thanked him. I recognized all of the stickers that were on the nice usher’s name tag but didn’t ask what they were for. In fact, I didn’t have to ask, as he quickly explained the stickers to us before introducing himself. “I’m Walter Banks, I’ve been with the Braves since they moved here, to Atlanta in 1966.” Walter said. “Ask me a number.” He said. So instinctively, I went with 10 because of Chipper Jones. Walter said “I attended my very first Braves at age 10 when they were the Milwaukee Braves.” I was at a loss for words. “I’ve never watched TV,” Banks said. “I’ve only read books.” While the Braves were taking batting practice, he said “I’ll be right back, stay here.” So I sat in my seat watching Walter head down to the Braves dugout just rows away. He came back with a baseball and said “This one’s for you.” I immediately thanked him and asked if I could have my picture taken with him, delightfully, he agreed and then said he has to get on his way. So I thanked him again and settled into my seat still in awe of what had just taken place. If you ever get the chance to go to a Braves game, ask for Walter Banks, you won’t regret it.
For many people, they think that Turner Field was the original home of the Atlanta Braves, but it was actually Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, which served as the Home of the Braves from 1966 to 1996. In fact, it saw four World Series appearances (’91, ’92, ’95, ’96) and one World Series title (’95). It also hosted the 1972 MLB All-Star Game, this is the place where the person whom many still consider the home run king, Hank Aaron, hit his 500th, 600th, 700th and 715th home runs. The hallowed grounds of Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium saw three Cy Young Award winners during its tenure as the Home of the Braves, John Smoltz, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine in the late 1990s. The stadium closed on October 24, 1996, the year before the Braves moved across the street to the famed Turner Field. Although it was no longer being used as a baseball stadium, Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium was turned into a parking lot for Turner Field. Even after being turned into a parking lot, the concrete still contained the outline of the original infield outline and the original wall as well as marker commemorating Aaron’s historic record-breaking 715th home run. The parking lot is still being used today and serves guests of Georgia State Stadium (formerly Turner Field), which currently serves the Georgia State University Panthers football program.
Recently, the Braves have been on a three-game season-opening road trip to Philadelphia where they squared off against the Philadelphia Phillies. In the offseason, much of the talk around baseball was the Phillies signing of National League sensation, Bryce Harper, to a 13-year $330 million contract. Some might ask why I am talking about Bryce Harper since I am a Braves fan so I’m going to cut to the chase. Philadelphia didn’t treat the Braves as nicely as I hoped but in the back of my mind I knew that it would be this way. Harper is 2-for-12 in a Philadelphia uniform. That doesn’t sound good, I know but his two hits are home runs one of which traveled 465-feet on Saturday against Atlanta in game two of the series. Not to mention that Phillies have multiple former all-stars on their roster, two of those being Bryce Harper, who was acquired from Washington in the offseason and the other? Andrew McCutchen, who was acquired from San Francisco, also during the offseason. The Braves (0-3) left “The City of Brotherly Love” without a win. But, tonight they open the gates of SunTrust Park for the first time in 2019 at 6:10p.m. Central Time against Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, and the 2016 World Champion, Chicago Cubs. Excitement has been brewing in the air of Atlanta as we have patiently awaited this day. Earlier today, I read that the Cubs bullpen was struggling as has been the Braves so hopefully we can turn things around at home and give these fans what they’ve waited all offseason for. Here’s to SunTrust Park and hoping the Cubs treat the Braves to their first win of 2019.