'Anybody, anytime' can play hero for Braves

Acuña continues 'incredible' pace with HR in 4th straight game, sparks comeback win

May 18th, 2023

ARLINGTON -- In the series finale against Texas at Globe Life Field, the Braves' offense was firing on all cylinders, sparking a late comeback in a 6-5 victory over the Rangers and Atlanta's first series win over Texas since 2003.

got the party started early with a two-run blast in the second inning, driving in , on base after drawing a walk. Rosario's homer snapped a 29 2/3-inning scoreless streak from Rangers starter Nathan Eovaldi.

“It can be anybody, anytime,” Riley said of the threat of Atlanta's lineup. “For Rosario to set the tone like that, [it’s huge] because you know it’s going to be a good game between [Spencer] Strider and Eovaldi. We look forward to those types of matchups. That’s what we come to the yard everyday for, and it was good to see Rosario swing the bat well there.”

Not to be outdone, the Rangers tacked on a few early-inning runs as well, taking advantage of an uncharacteristically poor start from Strider.

In the fourth inning, Adolis García drilled an opposite-field solo homer to put Texas on the board. Following a Jonah Heim walk and Robbie Grossman single, Ezequiel Duran tied the game with a double down the right-field line. Later that inning, Leody Taveras hit an RBI single to give the Rangers their first lead of the night at 3-2.

The following frame, García once again took Strider deep, launching a center-cut fastball 401 feet into the Rangers' bullpen.

It marked the first time in his career that Strider has surrendered multiple home runs to the same batter in one game.

Strider was tagged for four earned runs on six hits in five innings, finishing his night with seven strikeouts -- ending a 12-game streak in which he recorded 8+ strikeouts.

“I didn't really compete very well,” Strider said. “And sometimes you don't feel great. You sort of put a limit on how you compete or what you're doing out there and I didn't feel great. [That] doesn't matter [though]. You don't always feel good. So, [I've just] gotta figure out how to get outs. There are multiple ways to do that, and I just have to get it figured out and do that next time.”

Thankfully for Strider, his offense had a few more fireworks in store.

With Atlanta trailing 4-2 in the sixth, trimmed the deficit to one run with a thunderous solo home run -- his fourth consecutive game with a long ball. The homer had an exit velocity of 105 mph and sailed 429 feet over the center-field wall.

“What he’s done has been incredible,” Riley said of Acuña. “You catch yourself on the edge of [your seat] watching every swing, because you think something magical is going to happen. [He’s] just incredible.”

Acuña now has 11 home runs on the year to go with his 18 stolen bases, putting him on pace to become the first player in history to hit 30+ home runs and swipe 60+ stolen bases in a single season. Acuña would also join Eric Davis (1987) and Barry Bonds (1990) in an exclusive group of players to record 30+ home runs and 50+ stolen bases in a single season.

“He’s the best player I’ve ever seen,” Strider said of Acuña. “I don’t know what else there is to say [about his production]. Words can’t really do it justice. He’s the best player in the game right now and I’m just glad he’s on our team.”

But that "anybody, anytime" mentality came up again when the Braves staged a comeback in the eighth inning.

Acuña got things started by drawing a walk and quickly swiped second base. Then, with Acuña in scoring position, poked an RBI single to right-center, before Riley cracked a game-tying double to left-center.

That set the stage for 's clutch go-ahead homer in the ninth off the Rangers' Brock Burke.

“We had been struggling lately, so it’s nice to get this victory,” Arcia said through interpreter Franco Garcia. “This team is meant for great things.”