Ozuna, Albies power Braves’ offense in 16-4 rout of Nats
ATLANTA (AP) — Marcell Ozuna homered twice and doubled, Ozzie Albies drove in three runs and the Atlanta Braves fired up their offense to rout the Washington Nationals 16-4 on Tuesday night.
Coming off an 11-2 loss, the Braves began the game with a .201 team batting average before banging out 19 hits and going 9 for 19 with runners in scoring position.
Ozuna, Austin Riley, Adam Duvall, Dansby Swanson and Orlando Arcia each had two RBIs.
“It felt good,” Ozuna said. “Every time you come in and do some damage with your offense — that’s what I was thinking — how can I do damage with my offense and help my team to make a difference.”
Travis d’Arnaud had three hits and a provided a bit of comic relief as he flopped to the field dramatically when hit on the left shoulder in the eighth inning by a 52 mph pitch from outfielder Dee Strange-Gordon.
Albies homered on a 59 mph pitch from Strange-Gordon, who made his first big league mound appearance.
Nationals star Juan Soto hit his 100th career home run. He joined six other active players to hit that many at age 23 or younger — the others are Miguel Cabrera, Bryce Harper, Ronald Acuña Jr., Albert Pujols, Giancarlo Stanton and Mike Trout.
Ozuna began the four-run fourth with his first homer this season, a drive to center off reliever Austin Voth that made it 7-1. Ozuna connected to left in the fifth off Paolo Espino, padding the lead at 11-1. It marked Ozuna’s 12th multihomer game and his first since Sept. 22, 2020, against Miami.
“I’m always confident,” Ozuna said. “I’m always positive. I don’t want to have anything negative. Just come in and be ready for the game and do damage. If I get a good pitch to hit, I’ll swing.”
Defending World Series champion Atlanta snapped a two-game skid. It avoided dropping three straight for the first time since losing four in a row last Sept. 14-18.
Bryce Elder (1-0), a fifth-round draft pick out of the University of Texas in 2020, won his major league debut, allowing three runs and six hits with no walks and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. He was given a spot start after going 11-5 with a 2.75 ERA in 25 games across three levels of the minors last year.
“I thought I was going to be more nervous than I was,” Elder said. “They called me last night and told me. I slept actually really well. My family and some of my friends were able to come out and I thanked them for that. The last 24 hours went by really quick.”
The Braves went up 3-1 in the second when Heredia and Albies both doubled to drive in three runs charged to Patrick Corbin (0-2), who gave up six runs and nine hits in 2 2/3 innings, his ERA rising from 4.50 to 10.80.
Corbin has lost seven consecutive starts to Atlanta with a 7.25 ERA dating to Sept. 6, 2019.
“I don’t know, I used to pitch pretty good against them, and then I’m not quite sure,” Corbin said. “They work the pitch count. They have some veteran guys over there. Just one of those days today where it seemed like everything went well for them. And yesterday was the opposite for us. Have to get over this one and try to come back tomorrow and try to win the series.”
Albies has a .429 average and 11 RBIs in 28 career at-bats against Corbin.
Atlanta has won 15 of 21 against Washington since the start of last season.
GOING, GOING, GONE
Solo’s second homer of the season, a solo shot, landed about 15 rows into the seats in right-center, traveling 451 feet and leaving his bat at 113 mph. Washington went back-to-back when Bell followed Soto with a homer.
Washington DH Nelson Cruz was scratched from the lineup because of groin tightness. Yadiel Hernandez moved from LF to DH, hitting fourth, and Lane Thomas was inserted in the lineup in left, batting seventh. ... Espino was drilled in the right thigh on a liner from Matt Olson in the sixth, but stayed in the game to give up a two-run double by Riley that made it 13-3.
The Braves designated C Chadwick Tromp for assignment as they selected Elder’s contract from Triple-A Gwinnett. Atlanta also optioned C William Contreras and LHP Tucker Davidson to Gwinnett and selected RHP Jackson Stephens’ contract while designating RHP Jacob Webb for assignment. Stephens pitched the seventh, eighth and ninth to earn his first career save.
Braves LHP Max Fried (0-1, 7.94 ERA) hopes to bounce back from a rough opening day start. Atlanta’s ace will pitch opposite Washington rookie RHP Josiah Gray (0-1, 9.00) as the teams conclude a three-game series in Wednesday’s 12:20 p.m. start.