Atlanta – Ronald Acuna Jr. is the main reason the Braves have produced several impressive first-half stats. But his MVP-caliber contributions extend far beyond the opening frame.
Acuña started his first four-hit performance of the season by slamming a pair of singles over seven home runs for the first time that propelled the Braves to an 11-4 victory over the Phillies Sunday night at Truist Park. The offensive Revolution provided more than enough support for Spencer Stryder, who reached 100 strikeouts in a season in fewer innings than any other player in modern AL or NL history.
“I felt like the match was over very quickly,” said Stryder. “Getting the lead on the first is a big deal, especially when you can get that many bullets in. It’s a good problem to have when I have to wait because we can’t do three offensive hits.”
There were a lot of good developments as the Braves finished a 10-game home run by securing the split in this four-game series. Matt Olson enjoyed his second multiplayer match of the season and Stryder hit seven of the last nine players they faced.
When Nick Castellanos pitched to start the fourth inning, Stryder had 100 strikeouts over his first 61 innings. Jacob DeGrom earlier set the rookie record when he hit his 100th strike through the first 61 2/3 innings of the 2021 season.
“It’s unbelievable,” Acuña said through an interpreter. “Every time he plays, it feels like he’s going to beat everybody up.”
Like Strider, Acuña has the potential to chase many different records this season, especially those in Group A.
Acuña started the game and ran home when Olson followed with a 464-foot home run, the third longest by a Braves player this year. Austin Riley followed it up with a solo drive to celebrate the fourth time the Braves have hit back-to-back homers this year. It was the third time these back-to-back homers were hit in the first half.
Olson and Riley have captured two of these back-to-back visitors. Acuña and Olson combined for the other group’s account.
Displays of strength early on were regular for the Braves, who led the Majors with 17 first-inning homers. The Dodgers and Cardinals are tied for second with 13.
Olson and Yankees player Aaron Judge tied for the NBL lead with seven first-round homers. Riley is second with six. There are no more than four other players.
The Braves also lead the MLB in home runs (51) and first inning hits (77). These numbers shouldn’t be too surprising given that Acuña has 25 first-inning hits, five more than any other player in MLB, and also leads the Majors with 17 first-inning runs.
But the first spot is not the only place where opposing shooters have trouble against the braves. Acuña has 1,317 first-half OPS. He is followed in the lineup by Olson, whose 1.014 OPS in the first half is bested by the 1.115 OPS Riley that he produced from the hole three in the opening frame.
“I didn’t look at any of the numbers, but I know we were good in the first half,” Acuña said.
After Olson and Riley stormed back, Uzi Alpes and Acuña capped off the first half scoring with two singles sets. Most of the damage occurred against Phillies pitcher Dylan Coffey, who retired just two of the nine batters he faced.
Every start in the Braves lineup has recorded at least one hit. Michael Harris II made a stunning catch to steal Kyle Schwarber’s homer in the second, and he also scored a single in the fifth that put him on Acuña’s triple.
Acuña ranks fourth in the Majors with a . 982 OPS and is on pace for 33 homers and 67 stolen bases. No player has ever been in the 30-60 season. There is also the possibility that the outfielder could produce the fifth 40-40 season in MLB history.
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