Braves unable to run solely on Acuña power

Atlanta's superstar slugger belts a pair of homers, but Marlins secure series win

April 15th, 2021

ATLANTA -- put on another show. But his efforts weren’t enough to prevent the Braves from suffering yet another extra-inning loss and experiencing their latest four-game losing streak.

Acuña highlighted a three-hit night with a pair of home runs, including one that erased a seventh-inning deficit. But after surrendering a run in the top of the 10th, the Braves got nothing from the top of their lineup in the bottom half of the frame and consequently suffered a 6-5 loss to the Marlins on Wednesday night at Truist Park.

“We're not playing good right now,” manager Brian Snitker said. “We're hurting ourselves. It's just nothing is flowing right now. When you're doing that you can't make mistakes.”

After losing four straight to begin this season, Atlanta evened its record through eight games. But the Braves have lost four straight dating to Sunday’s disputed loss to the Phillies and are now winless in three extra-inning games. Atlanta has not registered a hit in those extra innings.

That’s right. This potentially great Braves offense still has not recorded a hit or tallied a run in any of their first three extra-inning games of the season. That’s hard to do when a runner is placed on second at the beginning of every extra inning.

But this is an offense that has consisted primarily of a lot of Acuña and the occasional Freddie Freeman home run.

To understand how little the Braves have received from the rest of their lineup, Travis d’Arnaud ranks third on the team with a paltry .627 OPS. Marcell Ozuna has a .519 OPS and Dansby Swanson has a .480 OPS.

“It’s a long season and we’re just getting started,” Acuña said through an interpreter. “So you’ve got to keep coming out with the same effort and just bring it every day.”

Acuña leads MLB in home runs (six), extra-base hits (13) and OPS (1.500). He is tied with Hank Aaron (1959) for the most extra-base hits by a Braves player through the first 12 games of a season.

But Acuña and Freeman were both retired by Marlins closer Yimi Garcia before this latest loss concluded with Ozuna striking out for the 18th time through 45 at-bats.

“This lineup is going to get going, because it can be a deep lineup,” Snitker said. “It's not right now. But it will be. You just can't wait for Ronald to hit a homer every at-bat because it's not gonna happen. He's a great player, but he's gonna make an out every now and then.”

Acuña capped his three-hit day with an opposite-field, game-tying, two-run homer off Richard Bleier in the seventh inning. The 23-year-old superstar also hit a two-run homer in the third inning and doubled ahead of Freeman’s RBI single in the fifth.

Acuña’s first home run had a 110.8 mph exit velocity and his double came off the bat at the same exact velocity. He's the first Braves player with multiple 110-plus mph extra-base hits in the same game tracked by Statcast (since 2015).

“I tell my coaches every day before I go out there that I gotta be better than him today,” Marlins second baseman Jazz Chisholm Jr. said. “Because you know he's gonna come out and give it his all and play hard and have fun.”

Braves starter Charlie Morton surrendered Miguel Rojas’ RBI double in the second inning and then labored through a four-run third that included Chisholm’s three-run homer. Chisholm’s fourth career homer and second of this season provided a 5-0 lead for Marlins starter Nick Neidert, who graduated from suburban Atlanta’s Peachtree Ridge High School in 2015.

Asked after the game if he had ever been around a player as hot as Acuña, Morton mentioned Randy Arozarena’s historic postseason run last season and the years he spent with the Pirates when Andrew McCutchen was an annual MVP Award candidate.

“The sky's the limit,” said Morton, who logged nine strikeouts over his six innings of work. “I just hope he stays healthy. What he's doing right now is ridiculous.”