ATLANTA – The Braves were eager to make up for their embarrassing performance the night before, so they provided a little extra help. Call it the power of sage.
Atlanta scored four runs in the first inning, Freddie Freeman added a three-run homerun and Atlanta overcame a Kris Bryant grand slam to beat the Chicago Cubs 8-7 on Monday night.
The Braves suffered two shutout losses to Arizona the previous afternoon – hitting just one hit in 14 innings. Madison Bumgarner held Atlanta without a hit in her seven-innings win, although she did not qualify as an official non-hitter.
Seeking an edge in a superstitious sport, Dansby Swanson burned sage in the bowels of Truist Park ahead of the game, hoping the weed would trigger the team.
It seemed to work. The Braves finished with 10 hits.
Heck, Swanson even hit an opposite field home run.
“Every bit that I could find in this place, I walked in,” Swanson said. “Maybe I should bring some tomorrow too.
Swanson said it wasn’t the first time he had burned sage, noting that he and his girlfriend, forward for the United States Women’s National Football Team, Mallory Pugh, had done so during the moving to a new home or at times when “you feel like you need to clean the air a bit.”
“All year long I’ve been like it’s coming to a point, I bring sage here – and I think yesterday has finally come to this point,” Swanson said. “I walked through pretty much every place you can find in this place, I walked in. It was fun.”
Manager Brian Snitker, meanwhile, said Monday marked his first experience with burning sage.
“(Swanson) must have put it right under my nose because I’m so clogged with pollen and everything, I couldn’t even smell it,” Snitker said. “I’m going to plant some. I could put sage in the soup.
The Braves beat Zach Davies by four runs and five hits in the very first inning. Travis d’Arnaud’s two-point single was the blow.
“It was good to get four runs in the first set, to calm everyone down,” said Freeman.
The Cubs tied Bryant’s sixth career grand slam, a Charlie Morton shot that landed in the Chicago relieving box with two outs in the third.
“I really thought we were going to win the game after that,” Cubs point guard Nico Hoerner said.
But Freeman broke a tie at 5 with a gigantic two-out shot, resulting in one of the right-field seats against Brandon Workman.
Freeman got the Braves’ lone hit on Sunday, a single against Zac Gallen in the pair opener.
Morton clinched the victory, despite five runs in 5 1/3 innings.
Willson Contreras hit a two-run homerun against Tyler Matzek in the seventh, but three other Braves relievers combined to preserve the victory. Will Smith worked around a walk in the ninth for his fifth stop.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.