Acutely Acuña : Braves 5, Reds 4

Once again, your Wednesday correspondent is called on to squelch a mini-slump, known in Japanese as a cliffSam, this time taking on the KRP which is Cincinnati. They have 5 wins, 40% of which have come against us. Last year’s Braves showed a tendency to play both up and down to the competition, and they’ve certainly played down to the level of the worst team in baseball so far.
After 22 games, the 1966 Braves were, like this team, 12-10. Denny Lemaster threw a 7 hit complete game shutout to beat the Astros 6-0. Eddie Mathews in the midst of a long season-opening slump, had 2 RBIs. Hank Aaron was picked off first.
The Braves score in the top of the first against Finnegan BeginAgain: Ender Inciarte single, advancing to second on a wild pitch, scoring on an Ozzie Albies infield single combined with a wild throw to first. There was an interesting call when an Albies steal was negated by the Reds catcher touching Fielding Culbreth’s mask while winding up to throw to third. I would think that on a play like that the umps should award what, in their judgment, would have been the result, but apparently I’m not allowed to make up new baseball rules, or even properly interpret the Infield Fly Rule in the playoffs. (Still pissed…)
But the highlight of the first inning, it goes without saying, was the initial MLB appearance of St. Ronald of Acuña, Junior Division. It was a long fly ball to the warning track in right center on the first pitch he saw. He now holds, or is at least tied for, two major league records: fewest balls seen per time at bat and lowest swing-and-miss proportion in MLB history
The bottom of the inning, helmed by the great-last-time-out Matt Wisler began ominously with three straight outfield singles to load the bases. But a short flyout and a double play restored order.
Maharishi Acuña didn’t bat in the top of the second, so I’m not sure it happened.
Inciarte led off the third with an infield “hit” which was actually a bonehead play by Votto, who suddenly decided he was the only player on the right side of the infield on what would have been a simple 4-3 putout. A Freddie Freeman single followed. A Johan Camargo double plates another run, but nobody cares: it was just a means to get to at-bat 2 of Lord Acuña. Another flyout on the first pitch, this time just short of the warning track to right. Both records intact.
It looked unlikely that Dictator-for-Life Acuña would hit in the fourth, so I stopped paying attention for a little while. I was right.
The fifth inning begins with Ronaldinho again due up 6th. A solo Albies shot off the foul pole and a single by Nick Markakis led to hopes that Tsarevitch Ronald might be seen in this inning, but it was not to be, as Camargo was ordered to ground out to see what the Acuñabulator could do leading off an inning.
Joey Votto ended Wisler’s bullet-dodging with a two run homer in the bottom of the fifth. At that point, a hit by Schebler found Adam Duvall thrown out by 20 feet to end the inning – ummmm, not in the fabulous new world of replay in which it is ruled that Perez missed the tag at home. (He may have, but I’m not completely certain Duvall hit the plate. I’ve given up deciding whether these replays are correctly decided or not.) Another single, and the Braves are behind by 1.
So for the first time in his brief career, King Ronald II comes to the plate representing the tying run. Tension rises as speculation begins… will he take a pitch? Yes, facing a new pitcher, Austin Brice. And we get his first K, called, on a 3-2 pitch.
A new battery started the bottom of the sixth: Jesse Biddle to Kurt Suzuki. Another DP erases a mini-threat.
Inciarte singles (his third hit) in the 7th and steals second to create an opportunity for Neck as the Reds intentionally walk FF5, but Kakes grounds out.
The Reds again load the bases in the bottom of the 7th with 1 out, but two Ks from Biddle keep it close.
Then in the 8th, IT happened. The initial safety of Ronald Acuña Jr., a solid single. Kevin Shackleford is the answer to a trivia question. A 3-2 base hit with Swanson at the plate leads to first and third. After a Tucker K, Suzuki brings Ubermensch Acuña home with a two-out single to tie the game.
The 9th began with Albies getting hit on the arm and a Freeman single. In a move that belies everything I ever saw of him, Phil Gosselin replaced Peraza as part of a double switch. Markakis hit into a double play, and I want to amend my earlier remark about replay. Replay should be disallowed except on plays which involve CB Bucknor – Markakis clearly safe and the camera makes clear what a bad umpire he is. Camargo brings home the go-ahead run on what Thom Brennaman called an “infield double” and I would call a not particularly well fielded chopper in the hole. The new Sultan of Swat strikes out to get to the bottom of the 9th with a lead.
Minter in for his first MLB save and his first since A ball in Rome: F7 (to Acuña! His second putout…) K F9 (at the wall).
cliff… Sam… this is how it’s done. See you next week.

Author: JonathanF

Alive since 1956. Braves fan since 1966. The first ten years were pretty much wasted. Exiled to Yankees/Mets territory in 1974 --- bearable only with TBS followed by MLB.TV.

103 thoughts on “Acutely Acuña : Braves 5, Reds 4”

  1. Great job, Jonathan.

    I hold out hope for Wisler. I don’t care. I’d love to see what the guy can do with proper development, a consistent workload, and a legitimate chance. He’s not been given that. Plus, he may also get pounded, but he pounds the strike zone, and I think he has the stuff to get hitters out. Someone, at some point, will give Wisler a run of starts, and I think he can do something with them.

  2. I once thought he absolutely sucked, I’ve amended to he may be a 5th starter, after all. I do not think he will ever be anything better than that, though.

  3. Enjoyed it Jonathan. C.B. Bucknor is truly terrible, and is a more than worthy target of Joe’s “Get off my lawn” grumpiness.

    @2 – I’d have more hope if he could put together a competent stretch at AAA first, but it seems he’ll suffice for another few starts until Gohara is ready.

    Past the excruciating bullpen walks, I like this club. Getting Flowers back should help, and while I don’t have a lot of optimism on Bautista, he + Camargo should be an all around betting pairing than Camargo + Culberson.

    Regarding the bullpen, outside of maybe Whitley, I don’t really see a lot at AAA to get excited about, but wonder if it might be feasible to give either Jacob Webb or Corbin Clouse a shot from AA at some point this year.

  4. Viz, Minter, Winkler, Carle, Biddle is 5/7 or 5/8 of a really good bullpen. A couple more solid strike-throwing relievers could really nail this roster down. Freeman maybe. Fried until he becomes a real starter. Wisler or Sanchez in long relief. Soroka? A trade?

  5. I’m not sure if the bullpen is bad or if their arms are just worn out from overuse. Of course throwing twice as many pitches as they have to because of walks doesn’t help things.

  6. Fun at the Old GABP Day 4 0f 4

    You had to be there. An aura. A fixation.

    Weave a circle round him thrice
    and close your eyes with holy dread
    for he on honeydew hath fed
    and drunk the milk of paradise.

  7. Vizzy and Minter will essentially split the closer duties based on situation. Interesting. This is pretty forward-thinking.

    It used to be called “bullpen by committee” and it was ravaged as the worst of the worst of “old school wrong-think.”

  8. So what happens to the hot-hitting but bound to regress Flaherty?

    He gets paid a million or two for the role he signed on for anyway; back up infielder.

  9. Joey bats a meager 1-5 with 5 left on base last night for Gwinnett. The sole hit a single in the ninth.

  10. A single up the middle
    he and Jesse Biddle
    were just too much
    one dreamt of dynasties and such.

    It’s the presence. Pacing in left field. That swing on his first ever ML pitch. The absurd speed.

    His machinations in the on deck circle. And the happy grin at the end.

    Over the top. And why not. I am so happy.

  11. Sixty five degrees, high cloud, sun.

    That had a lot to do with Ender’s hits, Ozzie too.

    Same again expected for this afternoon. Get off work, whatever. 12.35.

  12. Jonathan may have gotten the win, but at least Cliff and I can use carriage returns properly.


  13. I struggled with keeping Newcomb on my fantasy roster, but I’m going to give him one more start against the getaway lineup of one of the worst teams in baseball.

  14. I love it when Christian Bale suits up in a different costume to pitch a major league baseball game. The Reds are lucky to have such a star.

  15. ACUNA!!! And that was right after they said he ran a 30.3 feet per second on his first-to-third last night.

    I’m in love.

  16. If that 30.3 FT/S number is accurate, that is the second (!!!!!!) fasted speed in MLB behind only Bryon Buxton.

    Oh, my heart….

  17. Have I told you lately that I love you?
    Have I told you there’s no one else above you?
    Fill my heart with gladness, take away all my sadness
    Ease my troubles, that’s what you do

    -R.D. Stewart

  18. When they make a biopic of the life and times of Ronald Acuna and recount his first major league homer, they’ll have to get Christian Bale to play Homer Bailey and Zac Effron to play Sean Newcomb.

  19. Dansby Swanson will be played by Charlie Culberson, and Fredi Gonzalez will be played by Gerald Laird, and Gerald Laird will be played by Fredi Gonzalez.

  20. @33, that guy was GONE the instant he caught that ball. I would love to think he was headed straight to someone from the Braves to get Acuna the ball, but I suspect it’s already for sale on eBay…

  21. @34, The cast of this film is really coming together. (Don’t forget, you’re gonna want Charlie Culberson to play Dansby Swanson.)

  22. 4 Bravos are now in the top 25 in sprint speed. Acuna, Bourjos, Albies, and Swanson in that order. They don’t have a reading on Lane Adams, but he clocked in at 29.9 last year, which was 14th in baseball, and that would put him behind only Acuna and ahead of the others. Oh, and Ender is 9 for 11 in SBs and 4th in MLB overall. Wow, wow, wow.

    If you’re looking at bubble gum stats to evaluate this team, you’re missing the boat.

  23. @36

    I’m embarrassed. G.I. Morrison would have been so much better.

    I’ll go now.

  24. @37, Could we pencil in Walt Weiss as a stunt double for Gerald/Fredi or Fredi/Gerald? Haven’t figure out quite yet who’s supposed to play Walt Weiss.

  25. If Acuna proves as good as his reputation in the outfield, we should call him and Inciarte the “Robbsey Twins”

  26. A little obscured by the Acunapalooza: Newcomb with 6 strikeouts, 1 hit, no walks, and 35 pitches through 3 innings.

  27. So I’m trying to follow the game on, the free game. First time watching it there. Am I missing something or doing something wrong, because there seems to be an extraordinary amount of commercials between innings. I missed the live feed of Acuna’s HR because it was on a commercial, for instance. What’s up? I’m about to drop it because I’m not on here to watch commercials.

  28. I don’t think I’ve missed any action due to commercials on mlb.TV. Not sure what you’re experiencing.

    @44 The cool thing about a lot of prospects “arriving” at the same time (not to say that Newcomb is “arriving”, necessarily) is that they distract from each other, which I think is really healthy for their development. I think that’s helping their collective performance vs. All Eyes on Dansby last year. If a couple of the SPs start hitting, as Mark Bowman says, it will be “lit”.

  29. If Buzz from Home Alone doesn’t play Freddie Freeman, then you ain’t got a movie.

  30. Don’t like that 4-pitch walk to Duvall. Newcomb must have noticed our notice of him.

    Edit: Looks like the fastball away to righties is getting away from him again.

  31. Seeing-eye single from Peraza out into left field. Former #1 Braves prospect hits ball to current #1 Braves prospect.

  32. “If a couple of the SPs start hitting, as Mark Bowman says, it will be “lit”.”

    It’s lit.

  33. I apologize for this cliff/Sam thing. It probably ought to be a CLIFF/sam thing since it always starts with me.

    Thanks to the rest of you “we shall overcome.”

    Acuna and Albies. The class leader “A’s”.

  34. Albies now has as many home runs as Harper, Machado, and Betts. 1 fewer than the sociable Gregorious, 2 fewer than Trout.

  35. I have to admit that I was expecting Albies to hit about 10 home runs this year. I just wasn’t expecting him to do it by the first of May.

  36. Sean Newcomb
    Another single for his hit sum
    Bowman says it’s lit
    When the pitchers start to hit

  37. Got to let Newcomb work through his troubles here. The chart looks pretty bad on Gameday, though.

  38. I’m wayyyy behind on you guys. The Braves just finished batting and I have yet to see Newcomb struggling with the strike zone.

  39. John, should be a “live” button to hit there somewhere. Click that.

    Didn’t watch that inning. Was C.B. bad enough to justify Newcomb calling him an “a**hole” there?

  40. @62, That did the trick. It skipped from Dansby’s homer run/foul under review all the way to Mesoraco at bat with one out. Yeesh. Thanks for the tip!

  41. That was an epic implosion from Newcomb, Bucknor or no Bucknor. Hopefully, it doesn’t wind up costing us this game.

  42. Newcomb is back in rhythm. At 94 pitches, do y’all see if he can cruise through the 7th or pull him? Seeing as he’s coming up to bat, I’ve got a feeling Snitker will predictably pull him. UPDATE: Culberson pinch hit for Newcomb.

    Sure would love to see someone go 7 innings, though.

  43. Having his spot coming to bat in a tie game, Snitker absolutely made the right decision there. However, if he hadn’t had to bat, I’d have let him continue. Our starting pitchers have got to be able to get deep into games at some point.

  44. @71

    I mean…I guess, but you’re now advocating for the ridiculous “let a pitcher hit and then immediately pull him when he let’s a baserunner on in the next half-inning” thing.

  45. Yeah, that’s pretty much why I’d have rather let Newcomb hit. At least he had a single earlier. Culberson just seemed like the automatic out there. :(

  46. Well, I would have et Newk just finish the 7th. We have to let them work through adversity at this level.

  47. @Rob, I tried to post a link to a good vid of Acuna’s bomb, but it got rejected I’m sure. I’m all for keeping these threads free of memes and whatnot, so I get it if that’s the rules.

  48. I’ll point out that the Reds first PH off the bench is apparently Phil Gosselin. It could be worse, people.

  49. Know that, in general, I wholeheartedly agree that we have to get to a point where our starters are going more than five or six innings. I just think in this case that pinch-hitting was the correct course of action, though if you tell me you’d rather it be somebody other than Culberson, I wouldn’t disagree with that.

  50. Acuna didn’t any one game like this one at Gwinnett. He must have been slacking or brooding. If he can do this here, he sure coulda done it at Gwinnett.

  51. Nice! Good to salvage a split out of that series after losing the first two and then falling behind late in the third one.

  52. The Braves have finally arrived. Home runs by Acuna and Albies today. It feels good to be able to say those names in reference to the big league club today.

  53. We’re getting really close to being able to ignore the minor leagues for a long time.

  54. Truly majestic bomb from Acuña. And I don’t know what the analytics say about it, but having a team full of fast guys who run aggressively is awesome. This team rules

    Certainly feels like the “rebuild” is over now. Let’s add a couple horses for the bullpen and a 3B if Bautista doesn’t work out. Get it done, AA!

  55. He didn’t take a real at bat between spring and opening day in Gwinnett. The not-grumpy-old-man assumption would be that he needed a little time to find his timing again.

  56. @91… Right. Albies, Acuna, Newk. This is going to be fun for a long, long time, guys. Damn, we deserve it. Go Braves.

  57. OPS for the ‘regulars’ in the new Braves lineup: 600, 968, 1040, 854, 946, 1333*, 847, 833. 7 of the 8 Braves with the most at bats are in the everyday lineup now with Acuna* replacing Tucker and his 734 OPS. First supersub off the bench or spelling the regulars is now Camargo with a 940 OPS.
    Inciarte is sure a standout and a drag on this high octane offense. Hard to believe 4 weeks into the season the lowest OPS other than the leadoff hitter, who is showing signs of regressing to his established level of the past two yrs, is an 833. Wow. Tucker is a good bench bat and Flowers’ imminent return will only make the bench, and the defense, that much stronger. If Joey Bats doesn’t have it anymore, send Culberson down and bring Lane Adams back up. That would make a playoff caliber bench imo. As many have said, we just need a little more development from the young starters and one or two good bullpen pieces, which might be found in house, and this is a contending ballclub on the way up. Hard to believe after SO much effort to build around young arms and the gnashing of teeth about the dearth of position player prospects overall the past 4 yrs that it’s the offense which is strongest.

    *sss alert for Acuna.

  58. Details on Acuna’s HR:

    Exit velocity: 105.8 mph
    Launch angle: 30 degrees
    Projected distance: 416 feet

  59. In regards to the bullpen, in the immortal words of Lou Brown, I’m tired of all this nickel and dime stuff!

  60. Watching the game develop when it was still tight it becomes harder and harder to justify Flaherty not Carmago at third. Johan must start.

    So must Oz and Ronald! One is pushing the other. They play catch during warm up. They are a delight to watch in the same line up. Thrilling.

    Freddie is making great contact. Thank goodness. He hit hard and often throughout the 4 games. Someone count his doubles/homers?

    Ender ran and ran in center to great effect and remains the consummate team player.Weren’t you guys surprised by how many launched balls died at the wall. It’s not as small a park as you might think. It is also pretty, intimate and conducive to fan interaction.

    And yet, Rob’s early thoughts on Acuna in the field were mine, watching him. How can you possibly not use that extraordinary speed in center? Hate to think what that might involve.

    Flowers never appeared in this series. Did he travel? And what did we make of Newk’s ‘moment’ after a great start?

  61. Aaron Judge
    is not one to hold a grudge
    but when Ossie hits fifty four
    he just may have trouble hitting one or two more.

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