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Soroka dazzles in career-high 8 innings

@goodforball
May 21, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO -- Mike Soroka stuck with his standard act Monday night as his traveling show visited Oracle Park. He delivered yet another low-run, low-hit performance to pace the Braves to a 4-1 victory over the Giants. See Soroka befuddle all who dare step into the batter’s box! Watch him

SAN FRANCISCO -- Mike Soroka stuck with his standard act Monday night as his traveling show visited Oracle Park. He delivered yet another low-run, low-hit performance to pace the Braves to a 4-1 victory over the Giants.

See Soroka befuddle all who dare step into the batter’s box! Watch him dominate opponents as few pitchers have done before! Behold the magic of his breaking pitches and the fury of his fastball!

Soroka sustained his season-long excellence, limiting the Giants to two hits in a career-high eight innings. His lone lapse was Brandon Crawford’s home run that led off San Francisco’s sixth inning. It ended Soroka’s perfect-game bid and snapped his streak of consecutive innings without allowing a homer at 61 (dating back to last year). Crawford also singled up the middle in the eighth inning.

Box score

The Giants are hardly alone in being subdued by Soroka. Since ascending from Triple-A in mid-April, the 6-foot-5 Soroka has yielded no more than one earned run in each of his seven starts. His ERA stands at 1.01, a figure that will earn him All-Star consideration even if it doubles.

“You always expect to win when he’s out there,” Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman said.

Ronald Acuña Jr. assured Soroka (5-1) of another victory by bashing a pair of home runs, including his 10th career leadoff homer on the game’s first pitch from Giants starter Andrew Suarez, who made his Giants debut for 2019. Austin Riley also homered off Suarez in the sixth inning.

Then it was up to Soroka to try to maintain his perfecto. But Crawford connected with a sinker that didn’t sink enough.

“Brandon’s a good hitter; they’ve got a bunch of them over there,” Soroka said. “I went out there, threw strike one and it got hit.”

Rarely did Soroka endure that indignity while walking none and striking out seven -- totals that reflected his complete command.

“Mentally, I was in one of the best places I’ve ever been,” Soroka said. “We just attacked from pitch one and we didn’t take our foot off the gas.”

Giants manager Bruce Bochy, a noted connoisseur of pitching, was extremely impressed by Soroka.

“He’s got deception. He’s got velocity,” Bochy said. “... He’s got that changeup that’s quite a bit slower than his fastball, 12, 13 miles an hour. That’s a tough pitch. He established the fastball early and he started mixing in the offspeed more as he went. He commands it, he’s got movement. You see why his ERA is what it is.”

Braves manager Brian Snitker intends to keep it that way by not overworking Soroka, a survivor of shoulder injuries. He never considered sending Soroka, who threw 94 pitches, to the mound for the ninth inning.

Moreover, Snitker added, “I considered not sending him out for the eighth. ... I’m not going to push him. It’s going to be like that. ... It’s for the future. Not tonight. But tonight I felt like he was free and easy, no stressful innings.”

Even the weather cooperated with Soroka, who hails from Calgary, Alberta. Gametime temperature was 56 degrees and sinking.

“It was pretty [much] perfect pitching weather,” he said. “At least for me.”

Chris Haft has covered the Major Leagues since 1991 and has worked for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @goodforball.