ATLANTA -- Before her son left their native Curacao to attend Spring Training this year, Judari Albies told him she wanted to see him hit 20 homers. She didn't expect him to do it before the All-Star break. Nor did she anticipate being present to see him reach this goal.This
ATLANTA -- Before her son left their native Curacao to attend Spring Training this year, Judari Albies told him she wanted to see him hit 20 homers. She didn't expect him to do it before the All-Star break. Nor did she anticipate being present to see him reach this goal.
This was the primary reason Ozzie Albies was displaying a bright smile after notching the first multi-homer game of his young career during Wednesday night's 9-5 win over the Blue Jays at SunTrust Park. The All-Star second baseman became the sixth player in Braves history to homer from both sides of the plate.
More importantly, he capped this memorable night by hitting his team-leading 20th homer in front of his mother, who flew to Atlanta late Tuesday night.
"It happened right in front of her and she saw it live," Albies said. "I'm happy it happened today."
Judari Albies will remain in Atlanta the remainder of this week and then accompany her son to Washington, D.C. to share in the excitement of his first All-Star experience. The 21-year-old infielder has established himself as a legit MVP candidate while guiding the Braves, who moved back into a first-place tie with the Phillies in the National League East race.
Through 91 games, Albies leads the National League in extra-base hits (52), runs (73) and doubles (29, tied with teammate Nick Markakis). He ranks second in hits (113) and sixth in homers. He's the first Braves player since fellow Curacao native Andruw Jones to total 20 long balls before the All-Star break. Jones matched this mark in 88 games before the 2006 break and tallied 27 homers over 88 games before the 2005 break.
"It's probably a Curacao thing," Albies said. "I'm just trying to see the ball and put my barrel on it."
Albies' two-run homer in the eighth inning off left-handed reliever Aaron Loup provided the Braves some breathing room on a night when they held a comfortable 7-0 advantage until Mike Foltynewicz's shutout bid evaporated during a five-run seventh. The switch-hitting second baseman also drilled a sixth-inning leadoff homer off right-hander Luis Santos. He became the first Braves player since Nick Swisher (Aug. 22, 2015) to homer from both sides of the plate in a game.
"What he's doing from the left and right side of the plate, it's pretty special," Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman said. "He's doing it night in and night out. Every single night, he's helping us win a ballgame. It's been fun to watch."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Second inning eruption: Albies also contributed a sacrifice fly during the six-run second inning tallied against Blue Jays starter Sam Gaviglio, who faced nine batters in the frame. Foltynewicz drove in the first run with a safety squeeze and Freeman produced a nifty slide that allowed him to score from first base on Markakis' double. The Braves tallied more runs in the inning than they had totaled during any of their previous eight games.
"This is just a team game," Foltynewicz said. "If someone doesn't have it, someone is going to pick you up. If the pitching isn't there, the offense is going to pick you up and vice-versa. Knowing that you can give up more runs than usual and these guys are going to pick you up keeps the confidence."
Ender Inciarte provided an RBI double during the second, but exited after the third inning because of right triceps swelling that developed after he was hit with a pitch in the first inning. The Gold Glove center fielder will likely be in Friday's starting lineup.
ANOTHER ROUGH INNING
Foltynewicz had allowed just one hit before Justin Smoak killed a shutout bid with his seventh-inning leadoff homer. The Braves' All-Star hurler struck out the next two batters, but then allowed four straight hits, including Devon Travis' grand slam.
Courtesy of the unexpected barrage, Foltynewicz enters the All-Star break having allowed five earned runs in both of his past two starts. He surrendered more than two runs in just three of 18 starts this year. In each of those games, he allowed at least five runs, all of which were tallied within one inning.
Foltynewicz has allowed 30 earned runs over 101 2/3 innings pitched. Sixteen of those 30 runs have been tallied within three innings against the hurler, who will share his first All-Star experience with Albies, Freeman and Markakis.
"We've got a good second half of baseball coming up and I think every game means the world," Foltynewicz said. "This gives me extra motivation to shut the door and help us continue to be successful."
HE SAID IT
"I think I told [Blue Jays first-base coach Tim Leiper] that it was pure luck. I saw [Braves third-base coach Ron Washington] was waving me and I was like 'Oh, no.' The parachute is already out, so I've got to somehow get to home plate. I was going to do the tackle like I did a couple weeks ago. So, I had to do something else." -- Freeman, on his second-inning slide
Two of the National League's top players will be on display when Freeman's Braves host Paul Goldschmidt's D-backs Friday at 7:35 p.m. ET. Freeman has batted .363 with 13 homers and a 1.135 OPS in 40 career games against Arizona. Over his past 10 games against Atlanta, the recently rejuvenated Goldschmidt has hit .436 while producing a 1.264 OPS. The Braves will send Anibal Sanchez to the mound to oppose Zack Godley.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.