What's more fun than a sweep? How about two

April 16th, 2023

KANSAS CITY -- The Braves spent the past week enjoying both a two-run leadoff homer and ’s near inside-the-park homer. Those rare events provided just some of the fun during a winning streak that stretched to six games with ’s go-ahead single in the ninth inning to seal a 5-4 victory over the Royals at Kauffman Stadium on Sunday.

“When we have that momentum, it’s hard to stop,” Grissom said. “You’ve got to really run into a brick wall.”

The Braves have won 12 of their first 16 games for just the eighth time in franchise history and the first since 2013, which coincidentally is the last time Atlanta won six straight games in April. And it looks like things could get even better for the five-time reigning National League East champs. Manager Brian Snitker took time after Sunday’s game to confirm will come off the injured list to start Monday’s series opener against the Padres in San Diego.

There have been recent setbacks such as All-Star catcher , who suffered a concussion on April 8, and , who fractured his left wrist on Wednesday, but fellow catcher spent this past week looking like Babe Ruth. And Grissom delivered Sunday’s opposite-field game-winner while filling in for Arcia.

“Vaughn took a great swing on a 2-0 pitch,” Olson said. “He could have gotten big, but he just shot it the other way. … It’s just good team ball.”

Looking to rest some of his top relievers during this series finale, Snitker turned to , who surrendered Vinnie Pasquantino’s game-tying two-run homer in the seventh, when he was an out away from what would have been deemed a strong 1 1/3-inning relief appearance.

But just when it looked like the Braves might lose for the first time in a week, Albies doubled off the right-center-field wall with one out in the ninth, and Grissom followed by hitting his decisive single to right against Scott Barlow.

“That pitch was a hanger,” Grissom said. “It would have been easy to pull my shoulder and hit a ground ball to short. That would have been the easy route. You just have to stick through it and trust the guy behind me. That was my only job, to get [Albies] to third base.”

Speaking of third base
The game’s most comical moment occurred when Olson hit a sinking line drive that eluded Edward Olivares and went to the right-field wall.

“I was thinking four,” said Olson, whose 26.3 mph average sprint speed ranks 77th among the 92 MLB players who have had at least 200 competitive runs since the start of 2022.

Olson’s hope to continue racing to the plate was halted by third-base coach Ron Washington’s stop sign.

“I was giving Wash some [crap], but it was probably the right decision,” Olson said. “I was ready to go there.”

The resulting triple highlighted a three-run third against Zack Greinke, and created reason to realize an Olson inside-the-park homer remains rarer than the leadoff two-run homer Murphy hit in the 10th inning of Monday’s walk-off win against the Reds. A runner is always going to be at second base to begin an extra inning now. Olson may not have another opportunity for an inside-the-park home run.

Once Fried is activated on Monday, it will mark the first time this year that the rotation includes him, and at the same time.

Wright looked rusty when he returned from the injured list to face the Reds on Tuesday, but he limited the Royals to two runs over 5 2/3 innings on Sunday. He was back to his 2022 form that allowed him to be MLB’s only 20-game winner.

“That was a big improvement over the last time,” Snitker said. “It was just good to get him out there the last time. Today, I thought that was really, really good. I thought that was a great step forward.”

Wright had some trouble finding a consistent grip in the chilly and windy conditions. The conditions might have been why his fastball velocity was a tick down, but he still proved efficient and maintained a better pace than he had on Tuesday against the Reds.

“The [rhythm] was way better,” Wright said. “I was throwing a lot more strikes. I thought my stuff moved better and my curveball command was more consistent. I didn’t hang too many curveballs, which for me is definitely a good sign.”