The Associated Press
ATLANTA–Ozzie Albies’ first career multihomer game was special.
Making his mother’s wish come true was even better.
Albies snapped Atlanta’s power drought with two homers, and the Braves beat the Toronto Blue Jays 9-5 yesterday to move back into a tie for the NL East lead.
Albies’ mother, Judari, arrived from their Curacao home on Tuesday night. It was a rare opportunity for the 21-year-old second baseman to play with his mother in the stands.
He made the most of the night by fulfilling his mother’s request to reach 20 homers–a level not expected of 5-foot-8, 165-pound middle infielders.
“It feels amazing. She told me before I left Curacao she wants 20 this year,” he said. “To have it right in front of her, she saw it live, so I hope she’s happy today.”
Albies leads the Braves in homers, even though first baseman Freddie Freeman, who has 16, will participate in next week’s All-Star Home Run Derby.
“They asked me if I wanted to participate,” Albies said. “I said yes. I guess I didn’t make it. . . . I’ll bring him Gatorade.”
Albies is the first Atlanta player since Andruw Jones, also a native of Curacao, in 2006 to hit 20 home runs before the All-Star break.
“It must be a Curacao thing, I guess,” Albies said.
Albies, headed to his first All-Star Game next week, led off the sixth with a drive off Luis Santos that ended Atlanta’s season-long stretch of five games without a homer.
He also had a sacrifice fly in the Braves’ six-run second.
Mike Foltynewicz (7-5) and the Braves led 7-0 before Toronto scored five runs in the seventh on Justin Smoak’s leadoff homer and a grand slam by Devon Travis.
But Albies hit a two-run shot in the eighth to help Atlanta hold on for just its second win in eight games.
Coupled with Philadelphia’s loss to the New York Mets, the Braves moved into a tie with the Phillies for the division lead.
Foltynewicz allowed only one hit through six scoreless innings before giving up Smoak’s 14th homer high into the right-field seats to open the seventh.
The Blue Jays loaded the bases with two-out singles from Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Aledmys Diaz and Luke Maile before Travis hit his third career grand slam, knocking Foltynewicz out of the game.
A safety squeeze by Foltynewicz drove in Johan Camargo in the second. Ender Inciarte and Nick Markakis had run-scoring doubles in the inning. Freeman and Tyler Flowers singled in runs.
Toronto’s Sam Gaviglio (2-3) allowed six runs in 1 2/3 innings in his shortest career start. He fell to 1-3 with an 8.72 ERA in five road starts.
Mauricio Cabrera, who hasn’t returned to the majors since 2016, when he recorded six saves, five wins and a 2.82 ERA with Atlanta, was released by the Braves.
The hard-throwing Cabrera, 24, had an 11.03 ERA with 41 walks in 31 innings with High-A Florida.
Freeman will face hometown favourite Bryce Harper in the first round of the Derby at Nationals Park.
In other MLB action yesterday, the Rays stung the Tigers 4-2; the Pirates plundered the Nationals 2-0; the Twins dethroned the Royals 8-5; the Giants overshadowed the Cubs 5-4; the Mets outclassed the Phillies 3-0; the Yankees blanked the Orioles 9-0; the Red Sox beat the Rangers 4-2; the Indians dominated the Reds 19-4; the Marlins edged the Brewers 5-4; the Athletics grounded the Astros 8-3; the White Sox defeated the Cardinals 4-0; the Rockies towered over the Diamondbacks 19-2; the Mariners beat the Angels 3-0; and the Dodgers downed the Padres 4-2.