The Atlanta Braves have the best record in baseball, and Monday night they showed why.
Atlanta had 18 hits in a 14-4 win at the Colorado Rockies in the first of a three-game series. It was the Braves’ seventh straight win over Colorado, and they will go for No. 8 when the teams meet again in Denver on Tuesday night.
Charlie Morton (13-10, 3.37 ERA) will take the mound for the Braves against Peter Lambert (3-4, 4.92) in a matchup of right-handers.
Atlanta won the first game of the series with power, speed and timely hitting and can hurt opponents from one through nine in the order. The Rockies experienced that crush Monday in what has become an unfortunate familiar pattern for them.
“They put pressure on you all the way through,” Colorado manager Bud Black said. “They have a deep lineup.”
The Rockies have a young lineup that got even younger over the weekend with the call-up of 23-year-old Hunter Goodman. He made his big-league debut Sunday in Baltimore with two hits and a diving catch of a line drive that ended the game.
Goodman showed it wasn’t a fluke with two more hits Monday night.
But Colorado needs more than enthusiastic youngsters to win; it also needs solid pitching. Lambert has worked his way back from Tommy John surgery in 2020 to return to the Rockies’ rotation. The right-hander began this season in the bullpen, appearing in 14 games, and is scheduled to make his ninth straight start on Tuesday.
He has faced the Braves once in his career, in June in Atlanta when he tossed two scoreless innings of relief.
While Colorado is using the second half of this season to build for the future, the Braves are focusing on the now. Atlanta, which won the 2021 World Series, is cruising toward another NL East Division crown and currently holds home-field advantage for the playoffs.
The Braves have won in many different ways this year, but Monday added a twist. Ronald Acuna Jr., who had four hits, including a home run and two stolen bases, dealt with overly enthusiastic fans in the seventh inning.
A scary moment ended without harm when the two fans who rushed the field apparently just wanted a photo with the young star. Acuna was knocked to the ground but wasn’t hurt.
Security should be beefed up for Tuesday night, but Colorado doesn’t seem to have an answer for Acuna, who continued to make a case for the NL MVP with his five-RBI night. He is one home run short of becoming the first player in major league history to post a 30-homer, 60-stolen-base season.
Atlanta can do more than hit, though. Morton is showing that even at age 39, he is still worthy of being at the top of the rotation.
“It’s amazing what he is doing with all the innings he has logged and all the seasons,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said recently. “The ball is still coming out of his hand so good. It’s a testament to a guy who had dedicated himself to taking care of himself.”
Morton, in his 16th season, has plenty of experience against the Rockies. He is 5-2 with a 3.99 ERA in 13 career starts against them and is 3-1 with a 5.35 ERA in seven outings at Coors Field.
–Field Level Media