NEW YORK – This year’s Braves Stadium looks a lot different than the one that helped them win the world championship last year. But with Ronald Acuna Jr. and Eddie Rosario back doing what they do, it looks like the Atlanta players could once again be a group of squad makers.
With the help of all three defensive players, Atlanta built a comfortable early lead and bounced back from a series opening loss to score a 9-6 victory over the Mets on Friday night at Citi Field. Rosario hit Homer from three runs in the first, Michael Harris hit second in the second, and Acuña had a smash hit before matching his career high with four strokes, including the five hundred of his career.
“I think we have the potential to have one of the best stadiums in the league,” said Acuña.
The Braves cut a 2-game slip and moved within 3 and a half games of the top spot in the Eastern National League. They will play two-headed on Saturday and then wrap up a five-game streak against the first-placed Mets on Sunday afternoon.
Acuña said the boisterous crowd created a post-season feel. He and Rosario responded to the ridiculed crowd on the field by turning around and comically pointing their fingers. Harris enjoyed the interactions and showed no signs of getting upset while playing in New York for the first time.
“The baby’s heartbeat seems to be slow all the time, which is a good thing,” said Braves manager Brian Snitker. “He has all the great qualities you want to see from a kid when you’re going to be playing big games all the time.”
Had it not been for some great defensive contributions from defensive players, Ian Anderson’s ugly start might have been a disaster. Anderson was spotted 8-0 in the second half and ended up allowing four runs in seven strokes and four walks over 4 2/3 innings. Only right-handers can hope to turn things around, as Acuna and Rosario did.
Needless to say, it was the perfect time for Acuña to get back to showing how he can do great things with his racket and glove. The All-Star treble cut the second longest homeless streak of his career on Thursday and then extended the momentum by four singles on Friday.
Acuña’s most impressive contribution came when he jumped, extending his gauntlet over the right field wall and blocking what would have been Alonso’s 30th home run. The first-half grab showed he had become more confident in his right knee, which was surgically repaired after he ruptured his right anterior cruciate ligament while trying to play near the right court wall at Depot Park on July 10, 2021.
That’s good for him to test that out, and I can see his engine too starting to run offensively,” Snicker said.
Acuña was productive during his first 30 games after being revitalized from the injured roster towards the end of April and then produced 0.580 OPS over 38 games immediately prior to this series. That struggle wasn’t as great as Rosario’s – he went 3 for 44 to start the season and then underwent laser surgery to repair a swollen retina and blurred vision in his right eye.
Rosario was seeing the ball just fine on Friday, and Homer drilled three runs into the four round first and then added a double RBI in the second. The 2021 NLCS MVP has posted a 0.344 double, triple and Homer over his past nine games. The Braves acquired Robbie Grossman at the trade deadline, but Rosario will remain the primary left player if he extends that production.
While Rosario, Jorge Soler, Jock Pederson and Adam Duvall were the brave players during last year’s post-season run, Harris was rested at the end of his first full season in the minor league. Now, the 21-year-old looks like a veteran player.
Harris threw a 92.2 mph blocking Lewis Gillorm’s attempt to score from second in Brandon Nemo’s two-fps single. The quarterback also prepared to start the top of the same game. He now stands with Acuña (12), Eddie Mathews (12), Jeff Francoeur (11), Bob Horner (11) and Jason Heyward (10) as the only bravest people aged 21 or younger to have achieved at least 10 bugs. home during their first 60 gaming career.
“Honestly, this kid is everything and he can do everything,” Acuña said.