The Braves went out to San Diego after their All-Star break and are now leaving town after sweeping the Padres in their three-game set. With the sweep, the Braves have extended their NL East lead to 7 games.
By sweeping the Padres in San Diego, the Braves were able to do something they hadn’t done since 2006. The Braves didn’t make it easy on themselves but when this team needed a big hit or a shutout inning, they got it. The three-game sweep was an impressive way to come out in the second half of the season. The Braves were hot going into the All-Star break and with the three-game sweep, the Braves have won 7 of their last 8.
Josh Donaldson and Ronald Acuna Jr. were the offensive highlights of the Padres series. In the first two games, Donaldson hit 3 home runs. All the Josh Donaldson “bust” talk has quickly evaporated from the delusional side of the fanbase, and for good reason. Donaldson has been on fire since June. His bat adds protection to Freddie and depth that Braves lineup in the past hasn’t had in a long time. Donaldson’s one-year contract is beyond justifiable at this point.
Any talk of the Home Run Derby slowing Ronald Acuna down was put to rest immediately. Acuna hit two home runs in the first two games. Acuna has not slowed down since being moved to the top of the lineup. Acuna and Donaldson carried the Braves offense this weekend when it looked like a lot was going to happen, in a park that’s been known as a “pitchers park” in the past. In Acuna and Donaldson, the Braves have the talent to be productive anywhere.
If the first two games belonged to Acuna and Donaldson, Sunday belonged to Mike Soroka. The rookie continues to impress start after start, and Sunday was no different. In what to be proved to be a pitchers duel, Soroka never blinked going 7 innings of shutout baseball with 9 strikeouts and 1 walk. Soroka was properly rewarded when Freddie Freeman blasted a three-run home run that would put the Braves ahead. After Sunday’s win, Soroka is 10-1 with a 2.24 ERA. Special.
The three-game sweep of the Padres was the exact thing the Braves needed coming off the All-Star break. Not only did they extend their NL East lead, but the Braves also put the league on notice that they are very serious contenders. I still expect the Braves to make a big move, or two, to improve this roster before it’s all said and done. The Braves keep playing better and better baseball. It doesn’t look like they are ready to slow down anytime soon.