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Albies hits 2 of Braves' 4 HRs in win over Twins

Second baseman finishes 4-for-5 to give Braves series win; Fried K's 10
@mlbbowman
August 7, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS -- While getting a chance to see why the Twins will almost certainly shatter MLB’s all-time home run record, Braves manager Brian Snitker spent the past few days getting a taste of what opposing managers have felt while attempting to neutralize his high-octane offense. Now that Ozzie Albies has

MINNEAPOLIS -- While getting a chance to see why the Twins will almost certainly shatter MLB’s all-time home run record, Braves manager Brian Snitker spent the past few days getting a taste of what opposing managers have felt while attempting to neutralize his high-octane offense.

Now that Ozzie Albies has brought his dynamic talents to the two-hole, the Braves’ potent lineup has become even more dangerous. The Twins got a sense of this as Albies highlighted a four-hit performance with a pair of homers that backed Max Fried and helped the Braves secure a series victory with an 11-7 win on Wednesday afternoon at Target Field.

Box score

“Night in and night out, you see [our offense] put up 10-plus runs,” Fried said. “To put up a four- or five-spot at any time, it’s dangerous.”

After being limited to three runs during Monday night’s series-opening loss, the Braves tallied 23 runs over the final two games. They have now scored at least 11 runs 13 times, which is just five shy of their combined total of the past two seasons.

Though their three-run third inning was abruptly halted when Tyler Flowers grounded into a triple play, the Braves had little trouble backing the effort made by Fried, who struck out seven of the first nine batters he faced and held the Twins scoreless until surrendering a single to three of the four batters faced in the sixth.

Fried took the mound with the early advantage he gained when Albies and Freddie Freeman homered against consecutive pitches Martin Pérez threw in the first inning. The Braves have now hit back-to-back homers a franchise-record 12 times and they are on pace to hit 255 homers, which would shatter the franchise record (235) set in 2003.

Leadoff hitter Ronald Acuña Jr. strengthened his bid to secure the fifth 40-homer, 40-stolen base season in MLB history when he hit an opposite-field, 408-foot, two-run home run in the eighth. Acuna, who has 26 steals, and Freeman share the team lead with 29 homers, putting them both on pace to notch the franchise’s first 40-homer season since Andruw Jones in 2006.

Then of course you have former American League MVP Award winner Josh Donaldson sitting in the cleanup spot. Donaldson has produced a 1.051 OPS while tallying 18 of his 26 homers over his past 50 games.

“You look at the top of their lineup and we’re talking about well-above average Major League hitters that do a lot of damage throughout the year,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “I think we just left some pitches up and out over the plate and they put good swings on them. There’s not a lot of excuse making, it’s just kind of what it was.”

It’s just what opposing teams have to deal with when facing the Braves’ lineup, which has become more formidable as Albies has produced a 1.023 OPS over the 14 games he has played since moving to the two-hole when Dansby Swanson bruised his right heel.

Albies’ first-inning homer traveled a career-long 444 feet per Statcast and hit off the upper-level facade in right-center field. The 22-year-old second baseman sparked the three-run third with a leadoff single and then added a sixth-inning solo shot against Perez, who allowed seven runs -- six earned -- over six innings.

“I’m just so proud of what he has done this year and where he has come and how much he has grown and matured,” Snitker said.

Given the prolonged struggles of their bullpen, the Braves spent this series being reminded of how fortunate they are to have a potent offense. They owned an 11-0 lead entering Tuesday night’s sixth and then saw the powerful Twins close to within 12-7. Sean Newcomb allowed a three-run homer in the seventh and Minnesota hit a ninth-inning solo shot hit off newly acquired closer Shane Greene, who has allowed as many earned runs (five) in three innings for Atlanta as he did over 38 innings for Detroit.

Acuna’s eighth-inning homer on Wednesday proved quite valuable as the Twins created some more tension by tallying four ninth-inning runs against Josh Tomlin, who was unable to finish his mop-up assignment. Not wanting to tempt fate, Snitker called veteran Mark Melancon out of the bullpen to record the game’s final out.

“All the credit to [the Twins], we’re a good club too,” Snitker said. “That’s two good ballclubs going at it right there. Neither team is ever out of a game.”

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.