I’m not sure the Braves have had a better week of baseball since they won the World Series back in 2021.
It all started last Sunday, when Eddie Rosario hit a go-ahead grand slam in the ninth inning to lead the Braves to a victory over the Diamondbacks. The Braves then followed it up with three more come from behind victories over the Mets, each one a little more special than the last, capped off by an Ozzie Albies walk-off homer in the 10th inning to seal the sweep.
If you’re counting at home, that was four straight come from behind victories for the Braves, and they made it a fifth on Friday night in AJ Smith-Shawver‘s first start of his major-league career.
The 20-year-old rookie was nothing short of dominant against the Nationals. He did give up a couple of hits in the first inning, which led to a run, even though it was unearned. However, Smith-Shawver would settle down in spectacular fashion, surrendering just one hit over the next four innings, an infield single in the fourth. It did look like he was running on fumes a bit at the end, which is why he was pulled after just 86 pitches in the 6th, but I’m not sure the Braves could have asked for a better outing. He came as good as advertised, which is a scary thought for the rest of the league.
Collin McHugh relieved Smith-Shawver and gave up a double, giving the Nationals a 2-1 lead, but this Braves team seems to have found their juju, and in the bottom of the 8th, they were able to take control of the game.
Back-to-back singles to start the inning was the beginning of the end for the Nationals. Marcell Ozuna brought in the game-tying run with a ground out, and Orlando Arcia put the Braves on top with an infield single, as he continues his marvelous work at shortstop (he should be an All-Star, folks).
Raisel Iglesias entered the game in the ninth with a chance to shut the door for the Braves sixth straight win, and he did not disappoint. There were some shaky performances when he was first activated from the IL following a shoulder injury to start the season, but he’s looking like the dominant closer the Braves traded for at the end of last year again. He struck out the first two batters he faced, and the game ended with a grounder to first. Iglesias now quietly already has nine saves on the season in 10 attempts with a 2.45 ERA and 0.955 WHIP. He hasn’t given up an earned run since May 14th and has allowed just two hits over that span. The Braves are clicking on all cylinders right now, a scary sight for the rest of the NL East.
Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire