Diehard Braves fans will not forget Memorial Day 2023 for a long time. It was on this night that Michael Soroka defied all odds and returned to the mound after three surgeries and 1,029 days of rehab work. Though things got away from Soroka just a little in the bottom of the fourth, his return to the Show was scintillating from my perspective. The fact that he even made it back is amazing, add in he threw 6 innings in 83 pitches is a precursor of good things to come.

Oakland won the game, 7-2.

While the Braves lost to the lowly A’s, Soroka gave the Braves and all his fans reason to hope that great things are in front of the big right-hander. The movement on his sinker and change-up was electric, he missed bats with his 96 mph four-seamer, and was able to work out of a third inning jam by throwing a double play ball to end the inning. He left two pitches up in that fateful fifth inning and Ryan Noda, the first strikeout of the night for Soroka, dropped the barrel of the bat on a change-up down in the zone to give the A’s a 4-1 lead at the time.

Major League Baseball didn’t do the Braves any favors scheduling a 5 p.m. Pacific game the night after playing the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball game in Atlanta. The Braves arrived at their hotel at 3:00 a.m. local time and didn’t do much offensively in this one. Michael Harris II ripped one 113.9 off the bat into the right fielder’s glove, Ronald Acuna Jr. laced another ball 115.9 into the left fielder’s glove, and the Braves managed just six hits. The lone scoring for the Braves came on a 75.9 mph seeing-eye single in the top of the first by Sean Murphy, and a 413-foot blast by Matt Olson in the top of the eighth, his third home run in two nights. Austin Riley had two hits.

Sure, it’s not great losing to a team on pace to win 29 or 30 games for the season, and we still obviously have bullpen issues, but there are lots of reasons to have hope with Soroka’s start tonight. Atlanta will throw the NL’s ERA leader, Bryce Elder, tomorrow evening against left-handed starter, JP Sears (0-3, 4.70). Hopefully, Elder and the Braves offense vs. a lefty will even the series at a game apiece.