Acuña’s 4 hits, including HR, lead Braves past Phillies 8-1

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

ATLANTA — Ronald Acuna Jr. and the Atlanta Braves put on quite a show for their first home crowd since 2019.

Acuna had four hits, including a long two-run homer that gave Atlanta the lead, and made a leaping catch to support Charlie Morton‘s six strong innings, leading the Braves to an 8-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday night.

Acuna’s fifth-inning blast off Zack Wheeler (1-1) traveled an estimated 456 feet, landing deep in the center-field seats behind the Braves bullpen for a 2-1 lead.

“That was probably one of the harder ones I’ve hit,” Acuna said through a translator.

Acuna also had two doubles and showed his speed by beating out an infield single in the eighth.

“That just shows the complete player that he is,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.

Morton (1-1) permitted one run and four hits. The veteran right-hander struck out seven and walked one.

“That was the best my curveball has felt and I felt really good throwing it,” Morton said.

Pinch hitter Ehire Adrianza connected for a three-run homer and Freddie Freeman added a two-run shot as Atlanta’s hitters shook off a slow start to the season. The Braves were held to a combined three runs while being swept in a three-game series at Philadelphia last week to open the season.

Leading 3-1, Morton escaped the sixth inning with runners on first and third when Acuna made a leaping catch of Alec Bohm‘s drive at the warning track in right field.

Morton, 37, won his first home start with Atlanta since his 2008 rookie season. He returned to Atlanta as a free agent following 12 seasons with Pittsburgh, Houston and Tampa Bay.

Adrianza was reinstated from the restricted list before the game. His homer off Brandon Kintzler in the sixth drove in Austin Riley and Cristian Pache, who reached on errors by Bohm at third base. Freeman’s homer off David Hale in the eighth pushed the lead to 8-1.

Wheeler, who threw 94 pitches, allowed three runs and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings.

Andrew McCutchen‘s run-scoring single in the third gave Philadelphia a 1-0 lead.

The Braves won their home opener before a crowd of 14,302 as fans returned after being kept away during the pandemic in 2020. The Braves are allowing about one-third of the seats at Truist Park to be used in their first homestand. They plan to expand that to 50% in their next homestand.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Braves: RHP Chris Martin may be available on Saturday after working out before the game. Martin left a relief appearance Sunday at Philadelphia with what Snitker described Friday as “nerve stuff in his fingers” that caused numbness. Martin is expected to work as one of Atlanta’s key late-game relievers. … Infielder Johan Camargo was optioned to the Braves’ alternate training site with Adrianza’s return.

GIRARDI MAKES MISTAKE

Following the homer by Acuna, Wheeler gave up Ozzie Albies‘ double to right field and, two outs later, Travis d'Arnaud‘s run-scoring single to left field.

Phillies manager Joe Girardi then made came out to the mound. Though pitching coach Caleb Cotham was out for a chat with Wheeler minutes earlier, Girardi didn’t realize it marked the second mound visit of the inning and Wheeler had to be removed. Girardi turned to head back to the dugout before being called back to the mound by the umpires to make the mandatory pitching change.

“I screwed up,” Girardi said. “I was worrying about his pitch count and how he’s worked and I screwed up.”

Wheeler took the mistake in stride.

“Those mistakes happen,” Wheeler said. “It’s human.”

REMEMBERING AARON, NIEKRO

The Braves wore their 1974 uniforms to honor late Hall of Famers Phil Niekro and Hank Aaron. The numbers 35 and 44 are stitched on the back of the Braves’ caps this season to honor Niekro and Aaron, respectively. Aaron’s 44 was painted on the outfield grass.

BRAVES BUY EDGAR SANTANA

Right-hander Edgar Santana also was optioned to Atlanta’s alternate training site after he was acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates for cash considerations. Santana, 29, was designated for assignment by Pittsburgh on Monday.

Santana last pitched in the majors in 2018, when he was 3-4 with a 3.26 ERA in 69 games with the Pirates. He missed the 2019 season following Tommy John surgery and was suspended 80 games in 2020, which covered the abbreviated season, after testing positive for Boldenone, a performance-enhancing substance.

UP NEXT

Atlanta’s Ian Anderson (0-0, 1.80 ERA) will face Philadelphia’s Zach Eflin (0-0, 1.29 ERA) in a rematch of right-handers when the three-game series continues Saturday night. Eflin allowed one run in seven innings in the Phillies’ 2-1 home win over Anderson and the Braves on Sunday.

Yankees’ Judge heads on road still at 61 homers; 4 games left

Getty Images
0 Comments

NEW YORK – Aaron Judge won’t break the American League home run record at Yankee Stadium, remaining at 61 as New York headed on the road for its final four regular-season games after a 3-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday.

Judge struck out three times and walked once, disappointing a crowd of 44,332 that watched the Yankees regular-season home finale in rain for much of a chilly, blustery afternoon. New York finishes the regular season with four games at Texas, starting Monday night.

Judge took a called third strike from rookie Kyle Bradish leading off the first inning, then couldn’t check his swing and stranded the bases loaded when he struck out on a curveball in the second. He walked in the fifth and fanned against Bryan Baker in the seventh, dropping to 1 for 7 with six strikeouts, five walks and a hit batter since hitting No. 61 at Toronto on Wednesday night.

Trying to become the first Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012, Judge tops the AL with 130 RBIs. His batting average fell to .311, four points behind league leader Luis Arraez of Minnesota.

Baltimore (82-77) guaranteed its first winning season since 2016. The Orioles went 52-110 last year and became the first team since at least 1900 to have a winning record one season after losing 110 or more.

AL East champion New York (97-61) took another hit to an injury-ravaged bullpen when Ron Marinaccio left while pitching to Jorge Mateo in the eighth. The Yankees will be without Clay Holmes until the playoffs because of rotator cuff inflammation, and Aroldis Chapman (3-4) was once again wild, walking three, including rookie Gunnar Henderson with the bases loaded, as Baltimore surged ahead in the seventh.

Chi Chi Gonzalez, a 30-year-old right-hander, made his Yankees debut after pitching for Minnesota and Milwaukee in the majors earlier this season. He threw to Jose Trevino, his batterymate at Oral Roberts in 2012 and ’13.

Gonzalez allowed one run, four hits and three walks in 4 2/3 innings.

Bradish gave up one run – unearned – three hits and five walks in five-plus innings.

Logan Gillaspie (1-0) pitched a scoreless sixth in his first big league decision, Baker struck out five while getting six straight outs, and Dillon Tate got three outs for his fifth save.

Ryan Mountcastle had an RBI double in the first. Aaron Hicks scored from second base in the fifth when Bradish bounced a wild pitch and catcher Adley Rutschman threw the ball into center for an error.

Cedric Mullins reached on an infield hit starting the seventh against Chapman, has walked 28 in 35 1/3 innings. After Chapman walked three of four batters, Austin Hays followed with a sacrifice fly off Marinaccio.

WEB GEMS

Yankees 3B Josh Donaldson made a backhand grab on Jorge Mateo’s bases-loaded grounder in the sixth and from foul territory made a strong throw for the inning-ending out. … Hicks saved two runs with a sprinting catch on Terrin Vavra‘s slicing liner near the left-field line in the seventh.

FOR THE BOOKS

New York went 57-24 at home, matching most wins at new Yankee Stadium. Baltimore was 38-43 on the road, up from 20-61.

IN THE SEATS

The Yankees drew 3,136,207 for 78 home dates, down from 3,304,404 in 2019, the last season before two years of COVID restrictions. They had 16 sellouts, up from 12 in 2019.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Orioles: RHP Felix Bautista may not pitch for the rest of the season because of the sore left knee he injured Friday.

Yankees: Matt Carpenter (broken left foot on Aug 8) will not work out initially in the outfield at the Somerset, New Jersey, training camp this week. He was moved to the 60-day IL on Sunday, ruling him out of the Texas series. … RHP Miguel Castro (strained shoulder) could be activated Monday. … LHP Wandy Peralta, sidelined since Sept. 18 with back tightness, threw a bullpen session and will face hitters at Somerset on Tuesday or Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Orioles: RHP Dean Kremer (6-8, 3.17) starts Monday’s opener of a season-ending series against visiting Toronto and Jose Berrios (11-7, 5.37)

Yankees: RHP Luis Severino (6-3, 3.41) starts Monday in the opener of a four-game series at Texas and LHP Martin Perez (12-7, 2.93). After Wednesday, the Yankees have five off days before their Division Series opener at home on Oct. 11.