» BRAVES PARTY AF­TER ROUT OF GI­ANTS

Lodi News-Sentinel - - SPORTS - By Kerry Crow­ley

AT­LANTA — The At­lanta Braves ar­rived at SunTrust Park on Fri­day with the ex­pec­ta­tion there would be a postgame party.

The San Fran­cisco Gi­ants ap­peared to do ev­ery­thing in their power to en­sure the cel­e­bra­tion would go on.

Braves play­ers had ski gog­gles tucked away in lock­ers and club­house at­ten­dants had cham­pagne on ice. All At­lanta needed to do was beat the Gi­ants to clinch the Na­tional League East.

The Gi­ants didn't ex­actly make things chal­leng­ing.

Braves cen­ter fielder Ron­ald Acuna, Jr. started the fes­tiv­i­ties in the first in­ning and didn't ease up as At­lanta blanked San Fran­cisco, 6-0, to se­cure its sec­ond con­sec­u­tive di­vi­sion ti­tle.

The de­feat marked the 80th of the year for the Gi­ants, who are on their way to their third con­sec­u­tive los­ing sea­son. Af­ter keep­ing lo­cal cham­pagne dis­trib­u­tors in busi­ness dur­ing the first half of the decade, the Gi­ants have spent the last few sea­sons watch­ing op­po­nents ex­pe­ri­ence the cold, chill­ing sat­is­fac­tion of vic­tory.

Braves starter Mike Foltynewic­z tossed eight shutout in­nings against an over­matched lineup as rookie right fielder Mike Yas­trzem­ski was the only Gi­ants player who caused any trou­ble. Yas­trzem­ski went 3 for 3 against the At­lanta right-han­der while the rest of the Gi­ants' lineup com­bined to fin­ish 0 for 21.

It was only five years ago when the Gi­ants were at the top of the base­ball world, hav­ing won three World Se­ries in five sea­sons. The fran­chise's golden years ex­ceeded the wildest dreams of even the most op­ti­mistic of their fans, but the bar­ren sea­sons that have fol­lowed have tested the pa­tience of their long-time sup­port­ers.

It didn't take a blowout loss to see why the Gi­ants are not able to con­tend with teams such as the Braves, but Fri­day's game cer­tainly didn't in­spire much hope.

Gi­ants starter Tyler Beede had shown re­cent signs that he was turn­ing a cor­ner at the end of a chal­leng­ing rookie sea­son, but Beede sur­ren­dered six runs in six in­nings and had no an­swer for Acuna on Fri­day.

The Braves su­per­star went 2 for 2 with a walk against Beede and made the most of his at­bats. Acuna lined a dou­ble into the left-field cor­ner in his sec­ond plate ap­pear­ance and then broke the game open with a tworun blast into the right-field seats in the bot­tom of the fifth.

Acuna, 21, is younger than each of the 40 play­ers on the Gi­ants' 40-man ros­ter, but he's al­ready among the most tal­ented play­ers in the league filled with young stars.

As the Gi­ants' sea­son comes to a close, it's games against play­ers such as Acuna and At­lanta's 22-year-old sec­ond base­man, Ozzie Al­bies, that serve as a re­minder of the tal­ent that's been miss­ing from San Fran­cisco's farm sys­tem in re­cent sea­sons.

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