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Hot bats boost Braves, help finish off Jays

May 16, 2017

TORONTO -- Dansby Swanson hit the go-ahead homer in the seventh and Matt Kemp had yet another big day at the plate with four RBIs as the Braves came away with a 9-5 victory over the Blue Jays on Tuesday at Rogers Centre.Swanson broke a 5-5 tie with a solo

TORONTO -- Dansby Swanson hit the go-ahead homer in the seventh and Matt Kemp had yet another big day at the plate with four RBIs as the Braves came away with a 9-5 victory over the Blue Jays on Tuesday at Rogers Centre.
Swanson broke a 5-5 tie with a solo shot off Blue Jays reliever Danny Barnes. It was Swanson's third home run of the year and just the third earned run that Barnes has allowed in 14 innings this season. The deep shot to center allowed Atlanta to win both games in the first part of this home-and-home series, and the Braves have now won four of their last five.
"It felt great," Swanson said after notching his second straight two-hit game and extending his hitting streak to eight games. "It was one of those things where I hit it so well that you kind of don't even feel it. You just kind of catch it on the sweet spot. It was good, especially at that point in the game where they had just come back."
According to Statcast™, Swanson's home run traveled a projected 405 feet and left his bat at 104 mph with a launch angle of 27 degrees. Swanson has reached base at least once in 18 of his last 19. Kemp had a two-run single in the first and a two-run double in a three-run ninth, giving him six hits for the set -- three of them doubles. Freddie Freeman added his 14th home run of the season with a two-run shot in the fifth.

"Everybody in the lineup is swinging the bat pretty well at the moment," said Kemp, who has produced a 1.020 OPS while hitting safely in 15 of his past 16 games. "It's just big to get that timely hit and get those extra runs we need to close out games."
Neither starting pitcher factored into the decision. Atlanta lefty Jaime Garcia retired the first nine batters he faced, but proceeded to allow four runs on three hits and four walks over 5 1/3 innings. Blue Jays righty Marco Estrada allowed five runs on eight hits while striking out five over six. It was the third time in nine starts this season that Estrada surrendered more than two earned runs.

Toronto center fielder Kevin Pillar had yet another productive day at the plate. He finished 2-for-5 with a pair of runs scored and his sixth home run of the season, and at the end of the game, Pillar was leading the American League with 51 hits. Second baseman Devon Travis also chipped in with a pair of doubles and two RBIs as he continues to overcome what had been a sluggish start to the season.
"Really, the last two nights we haven't been able to shut down their offense, and they've got a good one," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Those guys in the middle, we had a tough time with them."

The failed bunt: Toronto entered the bottom of the eighth trailing by a run, but quickly sparked a rally as each of the first two batters reached base. The Blue Jays then made a rather curious decision in asking Travis to lay down a sacrifice bunt, even though he had two doubles earlier in the game, six over his last three and 12 this month. Travis could not get the bunt down on either of his first two attempts and then struck out swinging on an 87-mph slider from Arodys Vizcaino that was just outside the zone.

To make matters worse for Toronto, Darwin Barney hit a liner to second baseman Brandon Phillips that resulted in a double play in the next at-bat to end the inning. Atlanta then put the game out of reach with the three-run ninth.

"I wouldn't say I was surprised," Travis said when asked about receiving the bunt sign. "Guys on first and second, no outs, down a run, eighth inning. I have to do my job."
• Doubles no trouble, but bunt stumps Travis
Swanson has come to respect Phillips' ability to come up with big plays.
"He's always in the right place at the right time," Swanson said. "It's kind of amazing, really. He just has a great feel for the game. He kind of scared me, because when he caught it, he flipped a little changeup at me, sort of on purpose, and I was [straining] to catch it."
The escape artist: Garcia had his back against the wall in the fourth inning. The Blue Jays had put two runs across the board on a double by Travis, and they were threatening to score more with runners on second and third and two outs. A base hit likely would have put Toronto in front, but Garcia got Ezequiel Carrera to strike out swinging at a 90-mph fastball in the lower half of the zone.

That allowed the Braves to carry a 3-2 lead into the fifth when Freeman unloaded a two-run homer to center field. According to Statcast™, Freeman's second blast in as many days traveled a projected 397 feet and left his bat at 107 mph.

"I just wasn't making any pitches. I didn't have any fastball location, my changeups were up. The only decent pitch I was throwing was my curveball, but I didn't throw so many of those. It was just weird, I couldn't get anything down. Normally when I elevate, it's on purpose. Today, a lot of them were accidental and they were getting hit." -- Estrada
Toronto's Justin Smoak drew three walks in the same game for the first time since Aug. 29, 2015. He also had multiple walks in back-to-back games for the first time since May 26-27, 2014.
The Braves were unsuccessful with their challenge after Jace Peterson was ruled out on a two-out dribbler in the eighth. The out call stood after a review of one minute and 20 seconds, as it didn't show conclusive evidence Peterson reached first base in time with his head-first slide.

Braves:Mike Foltynewicz will be on the mound when Atlanta and Toronto begin a two-game series at SunTrust Park on Wednesday at 7:35 p.m. ET. Foltynewicz has impressed in four of his past five starts, but during his most recent home outing, he allowed the Cardinals seven runs over four innings.
Blue Jays: Right-hander Joe Biagini will take the mound when the Blue Jays travel to Atlanta to continue their home-and-home series vs. the Braves on Wednesday. Biagini is set to make his third start of the season after recently transitioning away from the bullpen. In his last outing, Biagini pitched into the sixth inning and tossed 68 pitches. His pitch count likely will be in the range of 85-90 for this outing, if all goes well.
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Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his [podcast]( podcast/id902526346?mt=2).

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for since 2001.