(Picture by, David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports)
Ronald Acuña Jr. started left field last night for the Braves in Cincinnati. In his MLB debut, he went 1-5 at the plate. Even though this is only a .200 Batting Average, his one hit was one of the most important of the night.
The Braves were down 4-3 in the top of the 8th inning. After Johan Camargo flew out to lead off the inning, Acuña stepped up to the plate for his 4th at-bat of the game. He is 0-3 at this point with 1 strikeout looking. On a 1-2 count, Ronald Acuña Jr. fired a ground ball past the pitcher and into the outfield for his first Major League hit.
Dansby Swanson comes to the plate and on a 3-2 count and hits a ground ball in between the shortstop and third baseman. The ball ends up in the left field grass. A fan sitting near me said, “Okay good, we have runners on 1st and 2nd base!” But we were at an awe when Acuña rounded 2nd and slid into 3rd way beating the throw. Acuña showed all Atlanta Braves fans and the MLB how fast he really is.
Preston Tucker then grabs a bat to hit for the pitcher Jesse Biddle and strikes out swinging. With 2 outs and Kurt Suzuki at the plate, he hits a single over the Reds’ 2nd baseman Scooter Gennett, scoring Acuña for his first MLB run scored. This ties the game at 4-4.
Inciarte will ground out to end the threat. The Braves hold the Reds tied at 4-4 going to the top of the 9th. Ozzie Albies leads off the inning and reached after he was hit in the rib cage. Freddie Freeman singles to center moving Ozzie to 2nd. Markakis grounds into a fielder’s choice resulting in Freeman being out at 2nd. Ozzie is at 3rd and is hit in by Johan Camargo’s double. The Braves took a 5-4 lead. The bullpen will then come in and get 3 quick outs.
Braves win the game 5-4. As I wrote about in my article “The Emergence of Ozzie Albies,” Dansby, Acuña, Ozzie, and Camargo have a special bond after playing in the minors together. They welcomed Acuña to the MLB level like he was there the whole time. The four of them were the main pieces in pulling the Braves from behind to winning the game. There is a lot of hope for the Braves fan base that Acuña and the three listed above will be the driving force of the team. Especially with veterans Kurt Suzuki, Freddie Freeman, Nick Markakis and Ender Inciarte helping on the field and in the dugout.
Maybe the Braves’ front office was on to something when they began trading away our favorite players to make room for our prospects. We will see in due time what the future holds.
Kyle Gamble | @kyleg6116