What was expected to be a relatively quiet off day on Tuesday turned into anything but, as the Braves announced a long term extension with phenom Ronald Acuña Jr. The reigning NL Rookie of the Year hit .293 with a team-leading 26 home runs with a .917 OPS in 111 games. Perhaps his biggest moment came in Game Four of the NLDS when he hit a 3-1 pitch deep into the Atlanta night for a grand slam against Walker Buehler, becoming the youngest player since Mickey Mantle to hit a postseason slam.
After starting the season at Triple-A last year, Acuña joined the Big League club on April 25th, and proceeded to hit the first of his 26 homers the very next day at Great American Ball Park. Acuña quickly showed how clutch he could be, batting a blistering .341 with runners in scoring position, and .400 (4-for-10) with the bases loaded. But perhaps even more impressive was how he seemed to thrive in two out situations. With runners in scoring position and two outs in the inning, Acuña hit .364 with a 1.095 OPS in 44 at bats. And then there were the leadoff homers. 8 of his team best 26 homers came leading off the game. Overall, as the team’s leadoff man, Acuña slugged 19 homers with 15 doubles and a 1.042 OPS in 262 at bats at the top of the Atlanta order.
Not due to hit free agency until 2025, the Braves have locked up a major part of their future for an extremely team-friendly deal. Just consider what the Angels recently gave Mike Trout (12 years/$426 million). Acuña could make up to $124 million over the next decade, or roughly one-quarter of the deal Trout received. And, scouts have constantly referred to Acuña as “the next Mike Trout” this is an absolute grand slam of a deal for both the Braves and their fans. After today’s news, I can’t wait to see the reaction and ovation the 21 year old gets when he takes the field tomorrow as the series with the Cubs continues at SunTrust Park.
Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and the @BravesRadioNet
I can’t recall a simulated game on a back field in early March with more attention than the one I watched on Wednesday morning at the Braves complex at Disney. Josh Donaldson, who has yet to be a participant in a lineup for Atlanta was seen going through the paces on Field Four. It certainly drew a lot more attention than normal, and Donaldson didn’t disappoint. Prior to going through game type situations, Donaldson was seen doing sprints in right field and appeared to be moving extremely well. You’ll recall, Donaldson was slowed by a calf issue for the majority of the 2018 season, but appeared to be moving well without any restrictions.
When he got his turn at the plate, Donaldson had three at bats, reaching with a single, double and wrapping things up with a homer to left center in his final AB. Barring any unforeseen setbacks, Donnaldson is lined up to start Friday evening’s contest against the Phillies at Disney, following a team day off on Thursday.
While it’s hard to get a good grasp on how a guy is feeling in simulated action, it was encouraging to see Donaldson with some pop in the bat, and running the bases. A few days ago, Alex Anthopoulos told me the team’s approach with Donaldson was cautious, because in years past, he’d overdo it early and suffer injuries during camp. Everyone understands the impact a healthy Donaldson can make for the 2019 Braves lineup, and they’ll definitely need it in this challenging National League East race. Yesterday, Fredie Freeman told me it’s usually around thirty at bats needed to be ready for the start of the new season. With three weeks (and a day) until the opener in Philly, Donaldson will have more than ample opportunities to get enough at bats to be ready to go for the Opener.
Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and the @BravesRadioNe
By JEFF MARTIN, Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) — A body found inside a beer cooler at the major league home of the Atlanta Braves belongs to a Minnesota inventor who was doing contract work at the stadium, police in Atlanta’s suburbs said Wednesday.
Cobb County police on Wednesday identified him as Todd Keeling, 48, of White Bear Lake, Minnesota.
Keeling had worked an overnight shift for a beverage vendor, authorities said. A co-worker found his body inside the beer cooler at SunTrust Park before Tuesday night’s Braves vs. Cincinnati Reds game.
An autopsy was planned Wednesday to help determine how he died, Cobb County police spokeswoman Sarah O’Hara said.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the death, agency spokesman Michael D’Aquino told The Associated Press.
The Braves declined to comment.
Keeling was an inventor, and had been at SunTrust Park to install his patented beer-pouring technology when he died, a relative told an Atlanta newspaper.
In October 2016, the United States issued the patent for the invention, which features “a new nozzle for a beer valve tap and a new foamless beer tap dispensing system,” government records show.
“This is his dream since he was a kid,” his aunt, Fran Kuchta, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution .
Keeling had already worked to get beer technology installed at The Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins’ stadiums, and was excited about the technology being added to SunTrust Park, Kuchta said.
Just this week, Braves officials showed off the new technology to local news reporters, saying it will allow beers to be poured about three times faster than in the past.
SunTrust Park is northwest of Atlanta, near Smyrna, Georgia.
By GEORGE HENRY, Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Braves aren’t exactly reeling.
They’ve held first place in the NL East since May 31 and still lead the league in runs scored.
Over the past seven games, however, manager Brian Snitker has watched his team lose five times in the first lull of the season.
“This is really the first grind-type thing team-wise that we’ve been through,” he said. “You’re going to go through it. Everybody goes through it. We’re not going to be immune to it.”
Adam Duvall had a two-run single in the seventh inning, Jose Peraza homered and scored twice, and the Cincinnati Reds beat the Braves 6-5 on Wednesday.
The Reds have won two straight, nine of 10 and 12 of 15 after taking two of three at SunTrust Park. Closer Raisel Iglesias had a perfect ninth to earn his 15th save in 17 chances, giving Cincinnati its best 10-game stretch since June 19-29, 2012.
“We definitely don’t ever think we’re out of a game,” said Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett, the NL’s leading hitter with a .336 average. “At any moment we can tack on a few runs, take the lead and our bullpen’s been doing a great job of keeping it.”
Cincinnati took advantage of another shaky outing by reliever Sam Freeman (2-4), scoring three runs in the seventh inning for a 6-5 lead on Gennett’s RBI single and Duvall’s single.
Freeman allowed two hits, three runs in two-thirds of an inning and dropped to 1-3 with an 8.16 ERA in his past 15 appearances. Atlanta’s bullpen blew three leads on the homestand and posted a 5.46 ERA in 29 2/3 innings as the Braves missed an opportunity against Baltimore, the AL’s worst team, and Cincinnati, the NL’s third-worst.
It marked the first time this season Atlanta lost consecutive home series.
Next up is a 10-game road trip against three of the majors’ best teams in St. Louis, the New York Yankees and Milwaukee. Snitker said he’s not concerned about the personnel. The recent combination of rain delays and extra-inning games has gotten things out of sync.
“The bullpen is taxed. We’re getting guys on and have a hard time in the productive out situation,” Snitker said. “It’s going to happen.”
The Braves had gone 2 for 20 with runners in scoring position in the past two games, but four runners scored from second base in the fourth. They went 0 for 5 the rest of the way.
Jackson Stephens (2-0) struck out two in 1 2/3 innings to earn the win. Iglesias earned a save for the second straight day and has converted his past six chances.
Braves starter Sean Newcomb allowed seven hits, three runs and two walks with six strikeouts in six innings. He has a 2.13 ERA in his past six home starts, but threw a career-high 111 pitches.
Cincinnati starter Luis Castillo retired the first 11 batters and gave up six hits, one walk and five runs — four earned — with four strikeouts in four innings. After Castillo was chased in the fifth, Peraza misplayed a bases-loaded grounder that allowed a run to score and would’ve ended the inning.
The Reds made it 4-3 in the fifth when Peraza tripled and scored on Brandon Dixon’s single. Cincinnati led 2-0 on Billy Hamilton’s RBI single in the second and Peraza’s homer, his third, in the third.
Four straight singles in the seventh gave the Reds the lead for good.
“We’ve had some games lately where we came back in late innings, so that’s one thing about this team,” Duvall said. “We don’t give up.”
ACHES AND PAINS
Braves 2B Ozzie Albies got the day off after his left foot was hit by a pitch in the fourth inning Tuesday. He stayed in the game, but Snitker said he was sore when he woke up Wednesday. Albies, the NL doubles leader, is batting .459 during an eight-game hitting streak. … Atlanta CF Ender Inciarte left the game before the start of the eighth with a sore oblique. Snitker believes he will be ready by Friday.
Reds 1B Joey Votto was ejected in the first inning for arguing a called third strike. It was the eighth of his career and the first since Sept. 9, 2015. Dixon took Votto’s place and went 1 for 2.
Braves LF Ronald Acuna Jr., sidelined since May 28 with a left knee sprain and bruises to his knee and lower back, will likely be reinstated from the disabled list before Friday’s game at St. Louis. He went 3 for 11 in his past three rehab games with Triple-A Gwinnett. … Atlanta RHP Mike Soroka was transferred to the 60-day disabled list. Soroka, a prized young starter, is on the DL for the second time with shoulder inflammation.
Reds: RHP Anthony DeSclafini (3-1, 4.09 ERA) will try to win his fourth straight start when Cincinnati opens a four-game home series Thursday against Milwaukee.
Braves: RHP Julio Teheran (5-5, 4.52 ERA) starts Friday at St. Louis. He allowed six hits and seven runs in 4 2/3 innings of his previous start, a 7-5 loss to the Orioles last Saturday.
By CHARLES ODUM, AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA (AP) — Matt Harvey is starting to discover his old winning form in his new home with the Cincinnati Reds.
Harvey pitched six-hit ball into the seventh inning, earning back-to-back wins for the first time this season and leading Cincinnati to a 5-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night.
“A start like today where you’re facing a good lineup, and you don’t have your best stuff, and you grind through it, it’s a step in the right direction,” Harvey said.
Jesse Winker had three hits and two RBIs for last-place Cincinnati, which has won eight of nine. Scooter Gennett had two hits, including a run-scoring single in the ninth, and scored three times.
Harvey (3-5) allowed one run in 6 2/3 innings in his longest start since lasting seven innings with the New York Mets on April 21, 2017, against Washington.
“I was cruising,” Harvey said.
Harvey pitched out of trouble in the fourth when he allowed Tyler Flowers’ run-scoring double before stranding two baserunners.
“The more he goes out there, the more comfortable I think he gets,” Gennett said. “He’s able to command his pitches better and better … you can see that confidence going up. I’m just really happy he’s got an opportunity over here to get back to his normal self and it looks like he’s doing that.”
It was Harvey’s ninth start with the Reds after he was acquired in a trade with the Mets on May 8. He allowed two runs in a 6-2 win over the Cubs on Thursday.
Braves manager Brian Snitker said “everything was crisp” in Harvey’s pitch selection.
“His breaking ball was really good tonight,” Snitker said. “His fastball, his whole game, the whole thing was a lot better than the last time I saw him.”
The last time Harvey won consecutive starts was May 23 and May 28, 2017, for the Mets against the Padres and Pirates.
The Reds led 4-1 before Atlanta scored two runs in the eighth. Ender Inciarte reached on a single that bounced off Amir Garrett’s left leg, knocking him to the ground and out of the game. Ozzie Albies doubled before Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis produced run-scoring groundouts.
Raisel Iglesias recorded the final out in the eighth on Johan Camargo’s fly ball to right field with runners on first and second, and then pitched the ninth for his 14th save.
Anibal Sanchez (3-2) left with two outs in the fifth inning due to cramping in his right calf, but he is expected to make his next start. He allowed two runs and five hits in 4 2/3 innings.
Reds: X-rays on Garrett’s left leg were negative. Garrett tried to chase the deflection before falling to the ground in pain. “At the time when it hit me, it hurt me pretty bad, I’m not going to lie,” Garrett said, adding “my leg gave out.” He said he hopes to return “in a day or two.”
Braves: RHP Arodys Vizcaino (right shoulder inflammation) has felt good playing catch and is expected to throw on the mound when the team begins a weekend series in St. Louis on Friday. If all goes well, Vizcaino could come off the 10-day DL on Sunday.
Right-hander Lucas Sims was sent back to Triple-A Gwinnett only three days after his promotion. Matt Wisler was recalled from Gwinnett and allowed one run in 2 1/3 innings after replacing Sanchez in the fifth.
Reds left-hander Brandon Finnegan is being moved to a relief role at Triple-A Louisville. “We’ve just got to get him in a role where he can experience some success again,” president of baseball operations Dick Williams said.
TRAE’S PITCHING FORM
Atlanta Hawks first-round draft pick Trae Young threw out the first pitch . Young is best known for his 3-point shooting on the court, and he lofted a slow pitch that was caught in the left-handed batter’s box.
Reds: RHP Luis Castillo (5-8, 5.70 ERA) will start in Wednesday’s finale of the three-game series. He allowed two runs in four innings in his only preview start against the Braves, an 8-1 loss on Aug. 20, 2017.
Braves: LHP Sean Newcomb (8-2, 2.59 ERA) is 1-0 with a 3.27 ERA in two career starts against the Reds.
By GEORGE HENRY, Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) — Ozzie Albies turned to teammate Danny Santana in the dugout and told him he was about to end the game with one swing.
“It’s time to go home right now,” Albies said. “It’s time to go deep. I went up there with one mentality, of hitting a home run.”
Albies hit a tiebreaking homer in the 11th inning off Dylan Floro and the Atlanta Braves snapped the Cincinnati Reds’ seven-game winning streak with a 5-4 victory on Monday night.
Albies knocked Floro’s first pitch, a changeup, into the right-field seats. Albies doubled twice before hitting Atlanta’s fifth game-ending homer this season. He’s hitting .455 over his last seven games, and his 17 homers are tied for third-most in the NL.
“I’m just trying to hit the ball where it’s pitched,” he said. “Put a good swing on it.”
Rain delayed the start of the game by 1 hour, 20 minutes, the 10th delay at SunTrust Park this season and the third in the last four games.
The NL East-leading Braves have won eight of 12. They improved to 2-7 in extra innings.
Luke Jackson (1-0), the seventh Atlanta pitcher, faced four batters in the 11th to earn the win. Floro (0-1) was the Reds’ sixth pitcher.
Braves reliever Lucas Sims blew a two-run lead in the sixth, allowing three straight singles, issuing a bases-loaded walk and giving up an RBI groundout to pinch-hitter Adam Duvall that made it 3-all.
Scott Schebler doubled to begin the seventh, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and made it 4-3 on Joey Votto’s RBI groundout. The Braves tied it at 4-all in the seventh on Santana’s RBI double.
Atlanta starter Mike Foltynewicz, reinstated from the disabled list with right triceps tightness, allowed one run, one hit and four walks in five innings. He struck out four while throwing 91 pitches.
Foltynewicz gave up his first hit to Schebler, whose 10th homer cut the lead to 2-1 in the fifth. Over his last eight starts, Foltynewicz has a 0.96 ERA.
“He had a really fresh arm and just pounded the zone on us and made us work,” Schebler said. “We made him work as well. We weren’t going down easy. We were grinding out at-bats and made him get out of the game probably a lot quicker than he wanted to.”
Reds starter Tyler Mahle loaded the bases with no out in the fifth before a groundout put the Braves up 3-1. Mahle gave up hits, three runs and four walks with five strikeouts in five innings.
Cincinnati was coming off a four-game home sweep of the Chicago Cubs and had won 10 of 12, but the Reds are still stuck in last place in the NL Central, five games out of fourth place.
“Schebler gave us a chance a couple of times,” interim Reds manager Jim Riggleman said. “Tough one to lose, but we did a lot of good things again, and if we play like that we’re going to win a lot of ballgames.”
Markakis, the NL hits leader, singled in the third to reach 100 hits. He leads the league in doubles and multi-hit games and ranks second to Cincinnati’s Scooter Gennett in batting average. Markakis went 2 for 4.
Reds: INF Nick Senzel, the No. 2 overall draft pick of 2016, had season-ending surgery to repair a torn tendon in his right index finger. He suffered the injury on Friday with Triple-A Louisville. In 44 games at Triple-A Louisville, Senzel hit .310 with six homers and 25 RBIs.
Braves: LF Ronald Acuna Jr., sidelined since May 28 with a left knee sprain and bruises to his knee and lower back, will move down in the batting order when he returns from a rehab assignment later this week. He batted in the No. 2 hole in 25 of his 29 games before getting hurt. Manager Brian Snitker likes how Inciarte and Albies are complementing each other in the top two spots.
Reds: RHP Matt Harvey (2-5, 5.66 ERA) will make his ninth start for Cincinnati since getting traded from the New York Mets on May 8. He is 2-3 with a 4.79 ERA with the Reds and is 3-7 with a 5.27 ERA in 12 career starts and one relief appearance against Atlanta.
Braves: RHP Anibal Sanchez (3-1, 2.55 ERA) will face the Reds for the first time since 2015. He is 2-1 with a 2.22 ERA in four starts this month.
By CHARLES ODUM, AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA (AP) — With closer Arodys Vizcaino on the disabled list, the Braves found strong relief elsewhere.
Four relievers combined to allow one hit in four scoreless innings, giving Atlanta’s bullpen an important lift as the Braves beat Baltimore 7-3 on Sunday for their first win over the Orioles in six years.
Freddie Freeman’s two-run single in the first inning gave Atlanta the lead and Dansby Swanson added a pinch-hit, two-run homer in the eighth .
Left-hander A.J. Minter pitched a perfect ninth following scoreless innings from Shane Carle, Jesse Biddle and Dan Winkler in relief of Brandon McCarthy. Vizcaino was placed on the DL before the game with right shoulder inflammation.
“My job was to kind of help out Vizzy today, give him some rest,” Minter said.
The bullpen’s strong showing was especially important after Braves relievers allowed nine runs and 10 hits on Friday night with Vizcaino unavailable.
“Those guys in the bullpen stepped up big,” said Braves manager Brian Snitker. “… They couldn’t have done any better.”
Baltimore won the first two games of the series and swept the last set between the teams in 2015. Atlanta ended a stretch of seven straight losses to the Orioles since 2012.
McCarthy (6-3) overcame home runs by pinch-hitter Mark Trumbo and Trey Mancini to allow three runs in five innings.
Mancini, back in the lineup after missing three starts with a stiff neck, led off the third with his 10th homer . Despite Sunday’s loss, Mancini said winning the series from the Braves was the last-place Orioles’ best showing since winning three of four at the Yankees in early April.
“This series down here felt like us again, I’d say for the first time really since the New York series early in the year in the Bronx,” Mancini said.
Trumbo hit a two-run homer beyond the reach of center fielder Ender Inciarte in the fifth. Trumbo has five homers in his last seven games.
Charlie Culberson doubled in two runs and Nick Markakis also had a run-scoring double in the third as Atlanta took a 5-1 lead. Swanson’s homer off Brad Brach landed inside the left-field foul pole.
The Braves took a 2-0 lead before David Hess (2-4) recorded an out. Hess walked Enter Inciarte, who moved to third on Ozzie Albies’ double. Both scored on Freeman’s single to left field.
Hess gave up five runs on seven hits and two walks in four innings — his third straight start allowing five runs.
Albies had three hits, giving him nine for the series.
Orioles: Trumbo did not start due to a sore right knee, a recurrence of a problem that surfaced in May. Trumbo is expected to be back in the lineup on Monday.
Braves: Vizcaino hadn’t appeared in a game since June 17 against the Mets. … Tyler Flowers remained in the game after being hit on his helmet with a pitch from Mike Wright Jr. in the fifth.
McCarthy was well-rested for a day game. Those were prime conditions for success for the 34-year-old right-hander.
McCarthy began the day 2-0 with a 2.82 ERA in four day games this season, compared to a 5.79 ERA in 10 night starts. He was making his first start since June 15, and he was 2-0 with a 2.76 ERA in his previous three starts with at least six days rest.
OF Ronald Acuna Jr. (left knee sprain) likely will spend at least one more day on his rehab assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett. Snitker said the Braves are “still kind of evaluating” Acuna to “make sure he’s healed. He feels he is.” Acuna has been on the DL four weeks, since May 28.
The Braves selected the contract of right-hander Evan Phillips from Triple-A Gwinnett, where he was 4-4 with a 2.31 ERA in 26 games, all in relief. INF Phil Gosselin was designated for assignment to create a spot for Phillips on the 40-man roster.
Orioles: RHP Andrew Cashner (2-7, 4.72) will try to end a streak of three straight losing decisions when Baltimore returns home to face Seattle on Monday night.
Braves: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (right triceps tightness) is expected to come off the DL to start Monday night’s opening game of a three-game series against the Reds.
By CHARLES ODUM, AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA (AP) — For Braves manager Brian Snitker, playing the matchups meant pitching to Manny Machado with first base open and a marathon game on the line.
The Orioles slugger made that strategy look foolish.
Machado hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the 15th inning, lifting Baltimore to a 10-7 win over Atlanta on Friday night after each team staged dramatic ninth-inning rallies.
The Braves surrendered six runs in the ninth, and then scored four times in the bottom of the inning.
Peter Moylan, Atlanta’s eighth pitcher, hit Craig Gentry to open the 15th. Gentry moved to second on Austin Wynns’ sacrifice.
With first base open, the Braves pitched to Machado and he responded with his 19th homer, a drive into the Orioles’ bullpen in left.
Snitker said the right-handed Moylan is tough on right-handed hitters but acknowledged “you hate like hell (Machado) is one of them.”
Machado said an intentional walk “crossed my mind at first. I thought they were. In that situation they probably had faith in Moylan out there that he could get some ground balls to the left side of the infield.”
Machado hit a 0-2 slider Moylan said was “supposed to be middle in.” Moylan said the pitch “slipped out of my hand and ended up middle middle.”
Moylan (0-1) gave up another run on singles by Colby Rasmus and Jonathan Schoop.
Mike Wright Jr. (1-0), Baltimore’s seventh pitcher, threw two scoreless innings.
The game lasted 5 hours, 21 minutes.
The Orioles trailed 3-1 heading into the ninth, and the Braves rallied against closer Zach Britton in the bottom of the inning. Braves closer Arodys Vizcaino was not used while Dan Winkler allowed four runs while recording only one out.
Snitker said he rested Vizcaino because of shoulder soreness and he might be available on Saturday.
Chris Davis hit a drought-breaking homer and drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly as Baltimore opened a 7-3 lead.
Britton got one out and was charged with four runs and five hits. He gave up a single to Johan Camargo and a double to Danny Santana before hitting Ender Inciarte to load the bases.
Ozzie Albies’ bases-loaded single drove in Camargo. Freddie Freeman’s two-run single cut the lead to one before Nick Markakis tied the game with a double to right field.
Atlanta had jumped in front on Charlie Culberson’s tiebreaking two-run double in the eighth.
Davis, making his first start since June 11, hit his first homer since May 9 in the fifth. Camargo tied the game with his run-scoring double in the seventh.
Braves left-hander Sean Newcomb allowed five hits in seven innings.
Orioles right-hander Alex Cobb permitted four hits in seven innings
The start of the game was delayed 11 minutes by rain.
Orioles: OF Trey Mancini (stiff neck) struck out as a pinch hitter in the eighth. He did not start for the second straight game. … INF Tim Beckham (core muscle surgery) could return Monday. He has been out since April 25.
Braves: RHP Mike Soroka was placed on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to Wednesday, with right shoulder inflammation. It is the rookie’s second DL stint with the shoulder issue. He missed 24 games from May 17 to June 13. He allowed four runs in 4 2/3 innings and his velocity dropped in the Braves’ 11-4 win at Toronto on Tuesday. Santana was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett. … RHP Mike Foltynewicz (right triceps tightness) threw on the side without problems and could come off the DL to start Monday against the Reds.
As part of the team’s celebration of Hank Aaron this week, the Braves wore 1974 throwback uniforms.
Fans booed after the Braves announced the length of the game forced the team to cancel the postgame fireworks show.
Davis was hitting only .150 when he was given 10 days to work on his swing with hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh and vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson. Davis, in the third season of a seven-year, $161 million contract, described changes to his swing as “drastic.”
“I think the break was obviously more just to give me an opportunity to sit down and try to make some of these adjustments and not have to go out and do it in the game,” Davis said.
Orioles: RHP Dylan Bundy (5-7, 3.81 ERA) is 5-2 with a 2.89 ERA in eight career interleague games, including seven starts. He will be making his first career appearance against Atlanta on Saturday.
Braves: RHP Julio Teheran (5-4, 3.97 ERA) will make his second career start against Baltimore.
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
By IAN HARRISON, Associated Press
TORONTO (AP) — The better J.A. Happ pitches for the Toronto Blue Jays, the better the chance he finishes the season with another team.
Happ pitched a season-high 8 1/3 innings to win his fifth straight decision, Kendrys Morales hit a two-run home run and the Blue Jays beat the Atlanta Braves 5-4 Wednesday for Toronto’s seventh win in eight home games.
Happ (9-3) allowed four runs and six hits, walked none and struck out eight. The veteran left-hander is the first big league pitcher to record four starts this season with at least eight strikeouts and no walks.
“He’s got good life on his fastball,” Atlanta’s Nick Markakis said. “He’s always been a thorn in the side.”
With Toronto well behind in both the AL East and the wild card standings, Happ could be a candidate for a midseason trade to a contender.
“I know he’s in demand and I can see why,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “If we were on the other end of it, I’d want him, too.”
Happ is in the final season of a three-year, $36 million contract.
“I signed to play here and try to help this team get to the playoffs,” Happ said. “I know there may be rumors out there, but I like it here and my focus is here.”
Happ improved 4-0 with a 2.72 ERA in nine career starts against the Braves.
“We knew going in it was going to be a tough ride,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said.
Happ had retired 18 of 19 before Freddie Freeman and Markakis hit back-to-back singles with one out in the ninth.
Ryan Tepera came on and gave up an RBI single to Kurt Suzuki, struck out Charlie Culberson, then allowed an RBI single to Ender Inciarte, putting the tying run at second. Tepera finished it by getting Johan Camargo to fly out, earning his fifth save in eight opportunities
Morales, who turned 35 Wednesday, went 2 for 3 and scored twice. He homered in the first, walked and scored in the fourth, singled in the fifth, and flied out in the eighth.
Suzuki and Peter Bourjos hit solo home runs for the Braves, who lost for the second time in eight games. Atlanta began the day with an NL-best record of 43-29.
Braves right-hander Anibal Sanchez (3-1) allowed four runs and five hits in five innings.
“It wasn’t bad, wasn’t great,” Snitker said. “He kept us in the game, gave us a chance.”
Sanchez is 0-2 with a 9.19 ERA in his past three starts against the Blue Jays.
After Morales hit a two-out drive off Sanchez, his sixth homer of the season, Suzuki connected in the second, his eighth, and Bourjos tied it in the third with his first homer of the season.
Toronto broke the deadlock in the fourth when Randal Grichuk hit an RBI double and Aledmys Diaz followed with a sacrifice fly.
Blue Jays infielder Yangervis Solarte made it 5-2 with a two-out RBI single off A.J. Minter in the seventh.
WALK THIS WAY
Blue Jays C Russell Martin has walked at least once in eight straight games, matching a career-long stretch. Martin, who walked twice Wednesday, also walked in eight straight in 2013.
Morales has four home runs and eight RBIs in eight career games on his birthday.
THRIVING WITH FIVE
Toronto is 28-1 when scoring five or more runs.
Braves: Markakis started at designated hitter, the first time this season he hasn’t played one of the corner outfield spots.
Blue Jays: RHP Marcus Stroman (shoulder) will be activated off the disabled list to start at the Angels on Saturday, Gibbons said. Stroman is 0-5 with a 7.71 ERA in seven starts. … 3B Josh Donaldson (left calf) left the team Wednesday and will continue working out at Toronto’s spring training facility in Florida. Donaldson will not begin a rehab assignment until he is able to run the bases at full speed.
Braves: Atlanta is off Thursday before opening a three-game home series against Baltimore on Friday. LHP Sean Newcomb (8-2, 2.70 ERA) starts for the Braves. Newcomb has won eight of his past nine decisions. The Orioles have not named a starter.
Blue Jays: RHP Aaron Sanchez (3-5, 4.35) starts the opener of a four-game series against the Angels. Sanchez is 1-0 with a 2.95 ERA in three June starts. LHP Tyler Skaggs (6-4, 2.81) starts for Los Angeles.
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
By IAN HARRISON, Associated Press
TORONTO (AP) — Johan Camargo came up big from the bottom of the Atlanta Braves’ lineup.
The No. 9 batter hit his first career grand slam and went 4 for 5 with five RBIs, and the Braves beat the Blue Jays 11-4 on Tuesday night to snap Toronto’s home winning streak at seven games.
The bottom four hitters in Atlanta’s lineup, DH Kurt Suzuki, outfielders Charlie Culberson and Ender Inciarte, and third baseman Camargo, went 11 for 18 with five doubles and two home runs.
“When guys are doing that it always looks really good,” manager Brian Snitker said.
Atlanta set season highs with seven doubles and 10 extra-base hits.
“This team is just really good up and down the lineup,” Camargo said through a translator.
Camargo hit his seventh home run off Jaime Garcia (2-6) in the second, singled in the fourth, hit an RBI single in the fifth and doubled and scored in the eighth. He struck out in the ninth.
Culberson hit a solo homer and Inciarte had three hits and three RBIs as the Braves won for the sixth time in seven games. Reliever Sam Freeman (2-3) worked 2 1/3 innings for the victory.
Making his first start in Canada, Calgary-born right-hander Mike Soroka was replaced one out from qualifying for the win.
“He threw some good sinkers but a lot of stuff was right down the middle,” Snitker said.
Soroka allowed four runs and eight hits, including six doubles, in 4 2/3 innings.
“It was everything I imagined, for sure, coming out there and seeing a lot of Canadians, a lot of Canadian flags,” Soroka said. “Hearing the anthem was pretty special, too.”
Soroka took a no-hitter into the seventh inning of his previous outing, June 13 against the New York Mets, but started this one by giving up a double to Blue Jays outfielder Curtis Granderson.
Toronto put runners at second and third with two outs in the first but left-fielder Culberson made a great running catch on Kevin Pillar’s line drive before crashing hard into the video board section of the outfield wall. Culberson went down briefly but stayed in the game.
“That’s one of the first holy cow plays I saw,” a grateful Soroka said. “I definitely owe him dinner.”
Garcia retired the first five batters in order before Kurt Suzuki’s double in the second. Culberson and Inciarte walked and Garcia fell behind 2-0 on Camargo before giving up a towering shot that landed in the third deck.
“It was really kind of a special moment, something I’ll never forget,” Camargo said.
Culberson connected off Garcia to begin the third before Inciarte and Camargo chased Garcia with consecutive singles.
Garcia allowed five runs and five hits in three-plus innings, failing to finish the fourth for the second time in four starts. The left-hander has lost six straight decisions and is winless since April 17 against Kansas City, his third start of the season.
“It’s frustrating,” Garcia said. “I feel like I’m letting my team down.”
A lawyer for Blue Jays RHP Roberto Osuna said Monday that his client will plead not guilty to charges of assault. After he was arrested and charged May 8, Osuna was placed on administrative leave. On Monday, baseball extended Osuna’s leave through June 25. Osuna’s lawyer was in court Monday. The case is set to resume July 9.
Snitker was asked what he thought when Culberson went down following his collision with the wall.
“I was wondering if I’m going to be able to make it out there,” Snitker joked. “He’d be healed by the time I get there.”
Braves: OF Ronald Acuna (left knee) has taken batting practice and run the past two days in workouts at Atlanta’s spring training facility in Florida. Snitker said the highly touted Acuna should begin a rehab assignment “sooner rather than later.”
Blue Jays: RHP Marcus Stroman (shoulder) threw a 75-pitch simulated game Monday after his scheduled start at Double-A New Hampshire was rained out. Stroman is expected to rejoin the Blue Jays rotation during the coming weekend’s road series against the Angels. … OF Steve Pearce (strained left oblique) went 1 for 3 with a home run at Triple-A Buffalo, playing five innings in left field. Pearce was the DH in his previous two rehab games with the Bisons, Saturday and Sunday. … Toronto put RHP Sam Gaviglio on the paternity list and promoted INF Lourdes Gurriel Jr. from Buffalo.
Braves RHP Anibal Sanchez (3-0, 1.93) faces Blue Jays LHP J.A. Happ (8-3, 3.48) in Wednesday afternoon’s series finale. Sanchez faced Toronto twice last season, allowing 12 runs in 10 2/3 innings. Happ is 1-0 with a 2.12 ERA in three June starts.
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