Braves notch first win of 2019 with big hits from star players Acuña, Albies and Co.

Joe Patrick
April 02, 2019 - 8:57 am
Atlanta Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies

© Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

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The Atlanta Braves’ 8-0 demolition of the Chicago Cubs in front of more than 41,000 fans at SunTrust Park for the team’s home opener Monday night was just the cleanse the team needed.

The Braves dropped three consecutive games to start the season on the road against their NL East rival Philadelphia Phillies. Coming home and putting on a show for the noisy fans in attendance was just the antidote the team and fans needed.

Those fans, many of which adorned Twitter with fresh avatars of a maniacally-smiling Tiger Woods, enjoyed themselves. They saw home runs from both Ronald Acuña Jr. and Ender Inciarte — the two players who find themselves in new spots in the batting order — a laughable six errors from the visiting Cubs, and a two-run RBI single from Brian McCann. They must not have believed their luck when a skirmish broke out late in the game that compelled the bullpens to clear (but alas, there was no “brawl” to speak of).

But certainly the players will be just as comforted by the result. Speaking to reporters prior to the game, Braves players seemed borderline annoyed at the questions referencing panic or concern caused by the opening weekend. The win Monday means the clubhouse will hear fewer of those questions in the near future, and the team can settle in and focus on the grind that is MLB’s 162-game season.

“It was a tough series back in Philly, but it’s gonna happen every now and then,” Braves center fielder Ender Inciarte said after the game. “Just like we’re gonna win a lot of games in a row, we can lose a few. It’s a marathon and we just have to continue to play good baseball.”

Despite the home runs and the highlights, the performance that truly underpinned Atlanta’s offensive display and made the team so dangerous was second baseman Ozzie Albies. The Curaçaoan second baseman famously struggled in the second half of last season for the Braves, and his presence as an offensive threat was easily visible Monday night.

“When it’s like that, [the lineup] can get really long and it can get fun,” manager Brian Snitker said after the game about Albies’ bat. “He’s been swinging the bat better all spring. When we get him going, we’ve really got something.”

Albies' struggles are well known inside and out of the clubhouse, but Josh Donaldson explained that it’s not a representation of the player he is, and that everyone — even Mike Trout — struggles sometimes.

“He’s one of those types of guys that can help your team in a multitude of different ways,” said Donaldson, who knocked a pair of singles in his first home game in a Braves uniform. “We’ve already seen defensively a number of very nice plays he’s capable of making, on the basepaths he’s a threat, and swinging the bat, he can do some damage.”