The Braves clobbered the Phillies in Sunday's series finale, further distancing themselves from the wounds of opening weekend and sending a message to their chief competitors: The Braves are the National League East favorites.
After the rivals traded thrilling ninth-inning comebacks, the Braves left no doubt Sunday, crushing the Phillies 15-1 to win the series and go up 2-1/2 games in the NL East. The teams will see each other again in early July, but the Braves leave this meeting with the upper hand.
"(This is the best we've played) up to date," manager Brian Snitker said. "Just putting it all together. We're getting some guys hot. The bullpen has done a great job in the last week, longer than that really. We've played some really good baseball."
Fifteen runs and 19 hits were both season-high for the Braves. They decimated a collection of Phillies arms in Vince Velasquez, Cole Irvin and Jerad Eickhoff.
The Braves moved to 5-1 in the ensuing game following a blown save. They're developing a real homefield advantage, now 22-16 at SunTrust Park with a record 126,423 fans in attendance for the weekend series.
Sunday's beatdown began with a three-run first inning. Ronald Acuna was struck by a pitch and advanced on starter Velasquez's throwing error. Following Dansby Swanson's single, Freddie Freeman hit a double just fair past first base, scoring both runners.
Josh Donaldson pushed the lead to 5-0 with a two-run shot in the third. Donaldson homered in each of the three games and suddenly looks revived. Once the game's most feared hitter outside Mike Trout, Donaldson's body is cooperating and he's seeing results against breaking pitches.
"He's having some good at-bats," Snitker said. "He's squaring balls. He's not missing them. He's not fouling balls back. He's getting good decisions on the pitches he should. The bat speed is unbelievable. When he gets going, he's the type of guy that can carry you."
The Braves scored two runs each in the third, fourth and fifth innings. They plated one in the sixth before busting out five in the seventh. Acuna, Donaldson and Flowers each homered on the afternoon.
With Donaldson putting it together, the Braves' lineup has no weak points. Sunday is an extreme example, but their work lately rates them among the league's elite. It's why they're 9-1 in their last 10 games.