PHILADELPHIA -- Maybe it's purely coincidental that the Braves have matched their previous home run total since essentially turning Monday's batting-practice session at PNC Park into a modified home run derby. Or maybe the more aggressive approach taken during this week's batting-practice sessions has simply helped create some confidence for an offense that needed it, especially in the power department.
After halting their home run woes during this week's series in Pittsburgh, the Braves came to Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park on Friday and enjoyed their first three-homer game of the season in a 7-1 win. Freddie Freeman continued to be the consistent power source with his first two-homer game of the season, and Nick Markakis became the fourth Atlanta player to hit his first homer this week.
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"I don't know if it's a coincidence," Freeman said. "I think it could all be more about your mental aspect going up to the plate. If you let loose and feel good going up to the plate, this game is mostly mental."
The Braves have doubled their season home run total since entering Monday with just nine home runs through their first 36 games. Freeman had accounted for six of those first nine homers, but he has tallied just two of the nine hit over the past five days. Jeff Francoeur and Mallex Smith have both hit a pair, while Tyler Flowers, Kelly Johnson and Markakis have notched the others hit this week.
Even with their recent power barrage increasing their season homer total to 18, the Braves have still tallied 13 fewer home runs than the Phillies, who own Major League Baseball's second-lowest total.
Freeman's first home run -- a two-run shot in the third inning -- and Markakis' two-run homer in the seventh inning off Phillies starter Aaron Nola might have been aided by the friendly dimensions at Citizens Bank Park. But there were not any obvious cheapies tallied as the Braves hit six home runs over four games at PNC Park to equal the total they have hit in 19 games at Turner Field, which is certainly not kind to hitters in the power alleys.
Maybe Monday's batting practice was simply an opportunity to blow off some steam for a team that was being burdened by the constant reminder that they were threatening records of home run futility set in some of the game's dead ball eras. Or maybe, it was simply an activity that altered a mindset and helped create the confidence that has grown as balls have cleared outfield walls with far more regularity this week.
"I think the ballparks are a bigger factor," Johnson said. "This is the first time we've been somewhere where in BP you build confidence and then feel it in the game. I think it's coincidence all in all, but not specifically to [Monday's BP session]. I'd say it's part of it, maybe, and getting some confidence."