Braves 10, Tigers 7 (Gm 1): Offense arrives early, but Braves better

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Game 1 of Wednesday’s traditional doubleheader between the Detroit Tigers and Atlanta Braves belonged to the visitors.

Despite taking an early — and particularly exciting — early lead, the Tigers were unable to maintain their advantage, surrendering a flurry of runs to Atlanta’s top-five offense, falling 10-7.

The Tigers’ peak was exciting but short-lived. Spencer Torkelson lit the fire in the first inning when he crushed his second 400-foot home run in as many games, this time a 436-foot blast to deep left center field off fellow 2020 Draft selection and namesake twin Spencer Strider. The ball left his bat at 107.2 miles per hour.

The next frame was even more electric. Continuing his unexpected hot streak, Miguel Cabrera launched his first home run of 2023, taking Strider 406 feet between the bullpens.

It’s encouraging to see, especially considering that the future Hall of Famer has looked completely cooked for much of this season. He added a ground rule double in the bottom of the ninth for his fifth extra base hit in as many games.

The excitement spilled over into the next at bat: Eric Haase, battling a putrid cold streak, followed Miggy’s blast with one of his own, also taking Strider 400-plus feet, going 427 for his first home run since May 3.

Strider had never allowed more than two home runs in a game in his short yet impressive career entering Wednesday. Naturally, the team who has hit the fourth-fewest long balls entering the game was the first to tag him.

But it was always going to be a challenge for rookie Reese Olson to keep the Braves loaded lineup down. Making his third career start, Olson was lit up for seven runs — six earned —while getting only 10 outs against Atlanta. He was hit for over 100 mph four times, one of which was a Ronald Acuna Jr. home run.

He wasn’t helped by a pair of fourth inning walks to Eddie Rosario and Ozzie Albies along with a fielding error by third baseman Nick Maton.

Despite being hit hard, Olson’s third career start wasn’t a waste. He threw 32 sliders for an average of 3,035 rpm — the highest in single game by any MLB pitcher throwing 25+ sliders since Dylan Cease averaged 3,083 rpm in May 2021, according to MLB.com’s Jason Beck. It’s an indication that Olson’s issue on Wednesday wasn’t his stuff, rather command and learning to pitch to an elite offense.

Tyler Holton came out of the bullpen and continued to throw well for Detroit, getting five outs with only one hit. He was followed by Brendan White making his MLB debut. He was tagged by Michael Harris II for a 360 foot home run that went just out of the reach of Kerry Carpenter. It was hardly a no-doubter; it would’ve left only seven different ballparks and, were this game to be in Atlanta, it would’ve been an out.

White went two innings surrendering the one run and punched out three Braves, including Kevin Pillar with a nasty sweeper. Not a bad debut overall, and the right-hander got to show off some of his hellacious high-spin breaking stuff along the way.

After making a thrilling comeback on Monday, it felt like 7-5 may have still been a winnable score for the Tigers, but Braden Bristo struggled in the eighth inning, getting tagged for runs by Harris II and Orlando Arcia, extending the Braves’ lead to 10-5.

Zach McKinstry’s RBI single in the bottom of the eighth added a run to get within four. He occupied second base with Eric Haase and Spencer Torkelson on either side of him with two outs, but Matt Vierling — who had previously entered for Carpenter — struck out to end the threat.

Jake Marisnick put his mark on the game with his glove — the center fielder made a highlight catch in the top of the ninth to rob Matt Olson of his 19th home run of the year and keep Bristo’s ERA down.

Down to their final strike in the ninth against Raisel Iglesias, Andy Ibáñez singled and was followed by Cabrera’s aforementioned double and an Eric Haase singled scored one and brought the tying run to the plate in Jonathan Schoop, who took up a bat in place of Jake Marisnick. He made a bid for an infield single, but was thrown out by Ozzie Albies by a step.

Harris II, who was laboring through the season after breaking out as a rookie in 2022, tagged Detroit pitchers for four hits after a three-hit game on Monday. More predictably, Acuna Jr. — playing in front of Cabrera, his childhood idol, had three hits.

The loss evened the series between the World Series hopeful Braves and scuffling Tigers.

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