Braves Recap: Sean Murphy, top of lineup lead Braves over Royals

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The Atlanta Braves clinched the series against the Kansas City Royals and won their fifth game in a row with the 9-3 win on Saturday, behind a 3-3 day at the plate for Sean Murphy. In the past five games, Murphy is now 9-19 (.473), with six doubles, three home runs, and 11 RBIs. The recent offensive outburst puts his season slash line at .308/.471/1.189.

He opened the scoring for Atlanta in the top of the first on Saturday, roping a double into right that scored Austin Riley all the way first to make it 1-0. Royals catcher Salvador Perez responded with a double of his own in the bottom of the first to tie the game.

Two innings later, Murphy doubled a second time to score Ronald Acuña Jr. and put the Braves back in front, 2-1. A few batters later, Ozzie Albies hit one of his three singles on the night to score both Riley and Murphy, pushing Atlanta ahead 4-1.

In the 5th, Murphy (are you noticing a trend here?) sent a first pitch curveball over the wall in left center for his third home run of the year, extending the Braves lead to 5-1.

Kansas City got a few runs back in the 5th and 6th to stay within striking distance. Kyle Isbel doubled off Bryce Elder to trim the deficit to three, followed by a Jackie Bradley Jr. double an inning later off Jesse Chavez to get within two. Elder threw 5.1 innings on Saturday, allowing eight hits, three earned runs, while striking out four batters and walking two.

Atlanta added some insurance in the 8th to put this game away. After back-to-back singles from Kevin Pillar and Eli White, Acuña was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Matt Olson drew a walk the next at-bat to score a run and push the Braves lead to 6-3. After Riley struck out swinging, Murphy added another RBI to his already big day with a bases loaded walk of his own.

I said in this game preview it wasn't likely the top half of the Atlanta lineup would match its very dominant showing on Friday, and yet they came pretty darn close to matching that performance. Acuña, Olson, Riley, and Murphy ended a combined 6-15 at the plate with five RBIs and three walks. The middle of the lineup almost showed them up with Ozzie and Vaughn Grissom combining for five hits and four RBIs.

Grissom is making a strong impression in his first two games back in Atlanta since losing the starting shortstop job to Orlando Arcia, with three hits so far this series. Notable statistic, that is the same amount of hits Marcell Ozuna has in 46 plate appearances in 2023.

Braves are going for the series sweep on Sunday at 2:10 p.m. ET with Kyle Wright getting the start for Atlanta. Zack Greinke gets the ball for the Royals.

Notable stats:
-M. Olson: 2-4, RBI
-S. Murphy: 3-3, 2 2B, HR, 4 RBI
-O. Albies: 3-5, 4 RBI
-V. Grissom: 2-5
-K. Pillar: 2-5