ATLANTA -- In the span of one unique inning, Chris Archer realized the power potential that exists within a Braves lineup that is deeper than any the team has possessed since 2003.
Brian McCann enjoyed his first multi-homer game in nearly three years and recorded one of the four second-inning solo shots Archer allowed that propelled the Braves to a rain-shortened 7-5, eight-inning win over the Pirates on Tuesday night at SunTrust Park. The game was called after a 1:48 rain delay that began at the start of the ninth.
“We knew we had a potent offense,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It’s just good to see guys starting to hit their stride right now.”
After Josh Donaldson and Nick Markakis began the second with consecutive home runs, McCann and Ozzie Albies went back to back to cap the productive frame. It marked the first time Atlanta hit four homers in an inning since Rafael Furcal, Mark DeRosa, Gary Sheffield and Javy Lopez teamed up to do so in the first inning against the Reds’ Joey Hamilton on May 28, 2003.
This also marked the first time in Atlanta history (since 1966) the club recorded two different sets of back-to-back home runs in one inning. The Milwaukee Braves did this at Wrigley Field on June 8, 1965. Joe Torre and Felipe Alou hit the first pair, and Hank Aaron and Gene Oliver recorded the second.
“I was throwing stuff right down the middle,” Archer said. “No matter how hard you’re throwing, how good your stuff was the inning before or the game before, if you throw stuff down the middle, you’re going to get blasted. They’re an aggressive team. They jumped me. I didn’t make the adjustment. I should have. I didn’t. That was pretty much the ballgame.”
The ballgame ended up being decided after the Pirates tied the game with four runs over five innings against Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz and then watched McCann drill Archer’s elevated 3-0 fastball into the second level of the Chop House, located beyond the right-field wall.
McCann’s 377-foot shot capped his first multi-homer game since Sept. 8, 2016, and the first he has produced for the Braves since May 28, 2013, in Toronto. The veteran catcher returned to his hometown team this year to share moments like these with his brother, Brad, who was seated behind home plate with Chipper Jones.
Each of the three homers McCann had hit entering Tuesday came on the road. He hadn’t homered for the Braves in Atlanta since Sept. 13, 2013.
“Those are the things I wanted to come back and experience again,” said McCann, who was drafted by the Braves in 2002 and remained in the organization through the end of 2013.
The Braves have tallied a season-high five homers in each of the first two games of this four-game set.
Having hit 99 home runs as a team this season, the Braves are within one of their 2015 total and on pace to tally 239, which would best the franchise record of 235, set by the 2003 club, which included three players -- Lopez (43), Sheffield (39) and Andruw Jones (36) -- who enjoyed 30-homer seasons.
Freddie Freeman (43), Ronald Acuna Jr. (36) and Dansby Swanson (31) are all on pace to eclipse 30 homers. But this trio has accounted for just two of the 10 homers tallied during this series. Albies notched a two-homer game out of the lineup’s No. 8 spot on Monday, and McCann did so while batting seventh Tuesday.
McCann believes the current Atlanta lineup is as deep as some of the potent ones he was in with the Yankees (2014-16) and the Astros, who won the 2017 World Series with him serving as their catcher.
“It stacks right there,” McCann said. “When you sit there and see Albies hitting eighth, you could put him anywhere really. That just speaks to how good this team is and how good we are offensively.”