ATLANTA -- Though they generated power to fuel and cap their dramatic Opening Day comeback win, the Braves understand they will more consistently resemble the pesky squad they were on Saturday night, when they aggressively navigated the basepaths and battered a taxed pitching staff while rolling to a 15-2 win
ATLANTA -- Though they generated power to fuel and cap their dramatic Opening Day comeback win, the Braves understand they will more consistently resemble the pesky squad they were on Saturday night, when they aggressively navigated the basepaths and battered a taxed pitching staff while rolling to a 15-2 win over the Phillies at SunTrust Park.
"We're grinders, man," Braves catcher Chris Stewart said. "We're going to take everything to the other team. There were a lot of hits, a lot of RBIs and a lot of runs scored tonight. But it's taking that extra base. Our mindset is incredible. That's why we're able to come back. We're never out of it. Even when we're up 10 runs, we're constantly pushing the throttle. We've got to keep that mindset and we're going to be good."
Time will tell whether the Braves are capable of exceeding expectations and establish themselves as one of this season's biggest surprises. But they walked away from this first series feeling good about themselves and knowing that had Peter Bourjos made contact with the plate during the eighth inning of Friday's game, they would have opened with a three-game sweep.
"It's always going to be good to win a series," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "We were a slide away from sweeping the series. It's a good way to start. We played some good baseball. Everybody played a part. It was a good opening series."
After opening the season with two drama-filled games, the Braves left no doubt as they notched 19 hits in the series finale. Their only home run was the two-run shot Lane Adams hit during the eighth inning against utility man Pedro Florimon, who was the 10th different relief pitcher Phillies rookie manager Gabe Kapler used in the series.
Ryan Flaherty opted out of his Minor League contract with the Phillies on March 21, became the Braves' starting third baseman less than a week later and then highlighted this offensive barrage by matching a career-high with four hits on Saturday. Ender Inciarte contributed three hits and drove in four runs for the hosts.
"We're not going to hit the ball over the fence," Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman said. "We've got to put the pressure on the defense. Dansby [Swanson] did that. Dansby did that and that's what we've got to do. We've got to go first to third. We've got to take that extra base."
Looking to enjoy a rebound season, Swanson produced an encouraging three-hit game on Friday and then followed that up with a two-hit game that began with him turning a single into a double during a four-run third inning. That inning also became weird when the Phillies did not have a reliever ready when Kapler went to the mound to remove starting pitcher Vince Velasquez, who surrendered nine hits and seven runs -- four earned -- over 2 2/3 innings.
"[Swanson] is a big part of this team," Freeman said. "When you get him going, what we saw in 2016 is what we're seeing now."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Kapler's blunder: The Phillies were charged with four errors, but the one that drew the most attention after the game was the one Kapler made when he stalled to compensate for the fact Hoby Milner was not warmed up and ready to replace Velasquez. Crew chief Jerry Layne's decision to protect Milner by allowing him to throw five warmup pitches once he reached the mound drew the ire of Snitker, who drew his second ejection of the series.
"For whatever reason the pitcher wasn't even getting ready," Layne said. "Who got crossed up? I'm not placing blame on anybody because I don't even know. He just wasn't ready. He hadn't thrown a pitch. The last thing I want to do is get somebody hurt. It's already a messed up situation."
Solid filler: With the Braves' top two catchers -- Tyler Flowers and Kurt Suzuki -- injured during the first two games of this series, Stewart had to step into an unexpected starting role. He recorded a pair of hits and provided the sacrifice fly that scored Swanson during the tone-setting third.
"The pitcher's bunt game, it was a good day. I had to base run too much, which is good, but I'm too old for it and it hurts." -- Braves starter Brandon McCarthy, who provided three sacrifice bunts while also limiting the Phillies to two earned runs over 5 1/3 innings.
Phillies: Phillies right-hander Ben Lively starts Monday night's series opener against the Mets at Citi Field. Lively made the Opening Day roster and rotation following an injury to right-hander Jerad Eickhoff. He went 4-7 with a 4.26 ERA in 15 starts last season as a rookie.
Braves: The Braves will resume their division rivalry against the Nationals when the two teams begin their season series Monday night at SunTrust Park. Atlanta southpaw Sean Newcomb will take the mound and attempt to build off last year's rookie experiences. First pitch is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. ET.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.