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Acuña draws near 40-40 with 37th HR, 34th SB

@mlbbowman
September 6, 2019

ATLANTA -- Ronald Acuña Jr. moved a little closer to joining the exclusive 40-40 club when he homered and stole a base during the two-run first inning that propelled the Braves to a 4-2 win over the Nationals at SunTrust Park on Thursday night. Acuña has 37 home runs and

ATLANTA -- Ronald Acuña Jr. moved a little closer to joining the exclusive 40-40 club when he homered and stole a base during the two-run first inning that propelled the Braves to a 4-2 win over the Nationals at SunTrust Park on Thursday night.

Acuña has 37 home runs and 34 stolen bases with 21 games remaining. The 21-year-old outfielder is bidding to join Jose Canseco (1988), Barry Bonds (1996), Alex Rodriguez (1998) and Alfonso Soriano (2006) as the only players in MLB history to record 40 homers and 40 stolen bases in a season.

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“I think he’s starting to get back to where he wants to be,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.

Acuña entered this series having hit .167 with a .593 OPS over his past 19 games. But he picked a good time to halt his slump. His first two-hit performance since Aug. 13 helped the first-place Braves move eight games in front of the second-place Nationals in the National League East race.

MLB standings

It didn’t take long for Acuña to make his presence known. He singled, stole second base and scored on Ozzie Albies’ bloop double in the first inning. The All-Star outfielder then further damaged Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg with an opposite-field solo home run in the fifth inning.

Acuña is currently on pace to end the season with 42 home runs and 39 stolen bases. His recent slump obviously minimized his opportunities to run. He stole 15 bases through the first 28 games he played after the All-Star break, but he entered Thursday with just five stolen bases over his previous 21 games.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.