Braves' offense rebounds in final game of road trip

June 1st, 2023

OAKLAND -- It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks for the Braves, who wrapped up a stretch of 13 consecutive games without an off-day on Wednesday. The trip out west didn't help matters, as Atlanta's “Sunday Night Baseball” win over Philadelphia led directly to a late-night flight to the Bay Area that didn't land until the wee hours of Monday morning.

"I'm not making excuses," manager Brian Snitker said, "but that did probably punch us in the gut a little bit, with what we went through Sunday night getting out here and in this series."

After dropping the first two games in Oakland, Atlanta avoided getting swept for the third time this season, salvaging the series finale with a 4-2 win on Wednesday. 

 "Things happen,"  said. "We kept our heads up always and kept playing hard until we made 27 outs to win a game today."

There was an apparent hangover effect from that taxing cross-country travel, as the Braves had a tough go of it during their first two games at the Oakland Coliseum, plating only three runs against the worst pitching staff in the Majors by many measures.

After being held scoreless for 10 frames -- dating back to the fourth inning on Tuesday night -- the Braves broke through with a three-run fifth on Wednesday afternoon.

Through four innings, Braves batters had only collected one hit against A's starter James Kaprielian -- Orlando Arcia's base hit with one out in the third. The bottom of the order, though, ignited a rally in the fifth: Eddie Rosario singled, then Albies hit his 11th home run of the year, a two-run shot to right. It marked the first time in the series that the Braves had scored multiple runs in an inning.

Atlanta wasn't done yet, though. Later in the fifth, Austin Riley -- whose ninth-inning error helped the A's to a walk-off win on Tuesday -- came to the plate with the bases juiced. Unlike the night before, he came out on the right side of a bases-loaded situation when he was hit by a pitch, capping the rally.

 added some insurance in the seventh with an RBI knock to drive in Arcia, who reached in all four plate appearances, singling in each of his first three trips to the plate.

Acuña went 0-for-7 in the Braves' first two games in Oakland, but he ended the series on a high note with a 2-for-5 showing. He has not gone hitless in three consecutive games since August 2022. Acuña also swiped a bag in the seventh, becoming just the fourth player in MLB history with 130-plus home runs and 130-plus stolen bases before turning 26 years old.

When the hits began falling for the Braves, rookie left-hander finally got the support that he needed to record his second Major League win. Shuster -- Atlanta's No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline -- pitched into the sixth inning for a third straight game and allowed two runs on three hits, though he walked four batters.

"He's just so efficient," Snitker said. "It's more, as the game gets on, the stress of it and everything. It's really good how he just pounds that strike zone. Even though he had the four walks … it seems like he just gets right back in there and gets a lot of early count outs."

Said Shuster: "There's nothing like being out there. I think the more experience you get, the more comfortable you get out there."

With Wednesday's win, the Braves secured a 15-14 record in May, an up-and-down month that featured a difficult slate of opponents and some even tougher breaks for the club, including injuries to Kyle Wright and Max Fried.

But it's all about keeping perspective. Just over one-third of the way through the season, Atlanta sits 10 games over .500 and first place in the National League East. In 2022, the Braves were a season-low four games under when the calendar flipped to June.

"It's a long season," Albies said. "We always stay positive; that's what we do. We keep playing hard. We try to win every night. That's the end of it."