The Braves christened their new ballpark on Friday during an exhibition game against the Yankees. Traffic issues notwithstanding, the park drew an estimated 21,392 fans, who were rewarded with an 8-5 win thanks to some late-game heroics from shortstop Jace Peterson.
The first home run in SunTrust Park history, however, came not from the Braves but from the bat of Yankees’ first baseman Greg Bird, who went deep in the third inning against Atlanta right-hander Bartolo Colon:
The Braves responded in the bottom of the third when Freddie Freeman punished a 1-0 pitch from Michael Pineda for a three-run homer over the right field fence. They tacked on another five runs in the sixth, capitalizing on a fielding error and bases-loaded walk and adding a three-run double to overtake the Yankees, 8-5.
While the Braves may not have been the first to record a home run in their new ballpark, the rest of their performance looks like a good omen as the team heads into the 2017 season. They’re scheduled to make their official season debut in the park on April 14 against the Padres.
With his team trailing 8-3 to begin the bottom of the ninth inning of Sunday’s game against the Astros, Indians third baseman José Ramirez eventually won a 17-pitch at-bat against closer Ken Giles, ripping a double off of the wall in right field. The Indians would go on to score five runs on seven hits to tie the game against Giles and Hector Rondon. Ramirez almost won the game in his second at-bat of the ninth inning, but first basebamn Yuli Gurriel made a terrific diving catch on a line drive otherwise headed for the right field corner.
Giants first baseman Brandon Belt set a new modern record for the longest at-bat last month, seeing 21 pitches against the Angels’ Jaime Barria. The Astros’ Ricky Gutierrez sfaw 20 pitches from the Indians’ Bartolo Colon on June 26, 1998, which was the previous record. Kevin Bass saw 19 pitches from the Phillies’ Steve Bedrosian in 1988. There have also been five 18-pitch at-bats from Brian Downing, Bip Roberts, Alex Cora, Adam Kennedy, and Marcus Semien.
Sunday’s game wound up going 14 innings. The Astros pulled ahead 9-8 in the top of the 13th on a solo home run from Evan Gattis. However, the Indians’ Yonder Alonso responded with a solo shot of his own in the bottom of the 13th to re-knot the game at 9-9. Greg Allen then lifted a walk-off solo homer in the bottom of the 14th to give the Indians a 10-9 win.
After Sunday’s effort, Ramirez is batting .292/.389/.605 with 15 home runs, 37 RBI, 34 runs scored, and seven stolen bases. According to FanGraphs, his 3.5 Wins Above Replacement ranks third across baseball behind Mike Trout (4.4) and Mookie Betts (4.1). They’re the only players at three wins or above.