The Atlanta Braves entered the season with expectations of a ton of home runs and a ton of stikeouts. They fulfilled those expectations by blasting three home runs off Philadelphia Phillies starter Cole Hamels in a 7-5 Opening Day win in front of a crowd of 51,456 at Turner Field.
Freddie Freeman got things started with a two-run blast in the first inning. Dan Uggla followed by leading off the second inning with a solo shot on a 3-0 count before Justin Upton added his own solo homer in the fifth to cap off a power barrage.
"Hopefully, that is just the beginning," Freeman said on braves.com. "We've got a very balanced lineup one through eight. It's going to be tough for pitchers to get through us."
Freeman would also add an RBI-single in the third, giving the Braves five runs in five innings off Hamels.
"They're going to hit a lot of home runs," Hamels said. "To keep them from hitting home runs, you have to keep the ball down."
The Phillies chased Braves starting pitcher Tim Hudson after 4 1/3 innings and three runs, including Chase Utley's 200th career homer in the fourth. Philadelphia loaded the bases with one out in the fifth to set up a two-run single by Utley, but Luis Avilan came in to strike out Ryan Howard, intentionally walk Michael Young and induce a groundout by Domonic Brown.
Avilan would also work a scoreless sixth, picking up the win for the Braves.
Atlanta picked up two vital insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth off former Brave Chad Durbin. Uggla started the inning with a single, which Chris Johnson followed with a double. Gerald Laird blooped an RBI-single into left to put runners on the corners for Reed Johnson, who hit into a run-scoring double play that came back to pitcher Jeremy Horst.
"We get a run there on a first-and-third double play," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "It was good heads-up baserunning by C.J., because the last thing you want to do is to end up at third base with two outs. He did a nice job of reading that they turned a double play. I think we were able to steal a run there."
Jordan Walden gave fans a scare in his Braves debut when a John Mayberry, Jr. double, wild pitch and Eric Kratz single brought the Phillies within two. Kratz moved up to second on yet another wild pitch before Walden got Laynce Nix to fly out and Ben Revere to strikeout.
Craig Kimbrel picked up his first save of the year by working a perfect ninth, though his only strikeout came against Howard.
The Braves get a day off Tuesday before contintuing the series with the Phillies Wednesday. Paul Maholm will start for the Braves, while Roy Halladay will hopefully throw batting practice for the Phillies.
Atlanta, Atlanta Braves, Cole Hamels, Dan Uggla, Freddie Freeman, Justin Upton, MLB, Philadelphia Phillies