MLB: Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. hopes to return to face Padres
The Atlanta Braves expect to get Ronald Acuna Jr. back in the lineup Saturday when they host the San Diego Padres in the second game of a three-game series.
Acuna has missed two games with a right groin injury that he sustained on Tuesday. The 24-year-old right fielder told reporters prior to the Friday game that he would be available on Saturday.
Manager Brian Snitker opted against using Acuna as a sub on Friday in the Braves’ 11-6 loss to the Padres.
“I think anybody with a leg problem, I don’t think you want to bring them off (the bench) cold,” Snitker said. “That’s kind of defeating the purpose, because they’d be better off playing and staying warm than doing that and taking a chance.”
Acuna has an active 24-game on-base streak (dating back to last season) that is tied for the third longest of his career, the longest being a 32-game streak from June 19 to July 28, 2019. He has hit safely in seven straight games and has stolen a base in three consecutive games.
The Padres won the series opener by matching a season high with 16 hits. Three of those came from Eric Hosmer, who upped his batting average to. 377 with his 13th multi-hit game. The third baseman took over the major league lead when teammate Manny Machado went 0-for-4 and saw his average fall to .371.
Machado saw his seven-game hitting streak ended, but he extended his on-base streak to 22 games with a walk.
The pitching matchup on Saturday features Atlanta right-hander Charlie Morton (2-4, 5.65 ERA) and San Diego left-hander Sean Manaea (2-3, 3.75).
Morton bounced back in his last start on Sunday against Milwaukee. The veteran had endured four consecutive subpar performances, losing three, but he looked good while throwing five shutout innings to beat the Brewers.
“I think I saw some things from hitters that made me feel like I’m probably not that far off, especially early,” Morton said. “I see things differently from hitters and their reactions to pitches that I’m throwing. Whether it’s a fastball right down the middle that they’re not quite turning on or it’s the four-seamer up that they’re swinging up or it’s the curveball that they’re chasing.”
Morton lost to the Padres on April 14, allowing five runs in five innings during an 11-1 defeat. He has made 10 career starts against San Diego, going 6-2 with a 2.66 ERA.
Manaea lost his latest start against the Miami Marlins on May 7, allowing three runs on seven hits and one walk in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out a season-high eight. Manaea has allowed 13 runs (12 earned) over his past 17 innings across three starts.
Manaea has made one career start against the Braves back in 2017 while a member of the Oakland A’s. He did not receive a decision after allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings.
The Padres attempted to bolster their offense on Friday by signing 39-year-old veteran Robinson Cano. The team sees Cano as a viable left-handed bat off the bench who can make an occasional start at second base or serve as the designated hitter. Cano was released by the New York Mets on Sunday after hitting .195 with one homer and three RBIs in 43 plate appearances.
“I’ve still got a lot left in the tank,” Cano said. “I know I can still play this game and just go out on top.”
To create a roster spot for Cano, San Diego optioned right-handed pitcher Dinelson Lamet to Triple-A El Paso.
–Field Level Media