CHICAGO – Atlanta Braves star Ronald Acuna Jr abandoned Sunday night’s win over the Chicago Cubs in the fourth inning with an abdominal strain. After the game, manager Brian Snitker said Acuña will be reevaluated in New York on Monday.
“I couldn’t tell what was going on,” Snitker said after the 13-4 win. “There was something in his belly (muscle). They’ll know more tomorrow when they check it out in New York.”
Acuna had reached base via a walk in the top of the fourth, but was served by Braves coaches after advancing to second with a free pass to Freddie Freeman moments later.
After finally scoring from third base on a sacrifice fly, Acuña Jr did not come out to play in the bottom of the inning. He was replaced in the line-up by Johan Camargo. It is believed that he aggravated the ailment by returning to the first shot in a revire. The Braves were hoping it was something minor.
“From what I’ve heard, he’s doing well,” said Sunday’s winning pitcher Bryse Wilson. “We hope it’s okay.”
Acuña Jr has been the Braves’ best hitter at the start of the season, having reached base in his last 13 games, including Sunday. He’s hitting .419 so far this season. It wasn’t necessary Sunday when the Braves hit four home runs in the first inning and compiled two six-run innings to take two of three from the Cubs over the weekend.
Guillermo Heredia hit a two-run home run in the first inning and added a grand slam in the sixth as he was just one of the many Braves hitting stars on the night.
The Braves hit four home runs in the first inning for the second time in franchise history. Freeman, Travis d’Arnaud, and Ehire Adrianza joined Heredia to dig deeper. The four home runs are the most Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks has given up in a single game, let alone in one inning. He is also the first pitcher in franchise history to allow four homers in the first inning. The Braves also took advantage of the relievers that followed.
“We’ve been working to get this offense going, so I think it’s a step in the right direction,” Snitker said.
Acuña Jr’s injury is the latest in a series for the Braves that includes starting pitchers and position players. Second baseman Ozzie Albies left Saturday’s game, while pitcher Drew Smyly was out shortly before he was scheduled to pitch Friday.
And that doesn’t even include injuries in center field, where Heredia replaced. He is the first Braves player to record at least six RBIs while hitting eighth in the order.
“He has a contagious personality,” Snitker said of Heredia. “He has skills too. He fits in very well here.”
Anthony Rizzo homered twice for the Cubs, who open a series with the New York Mets on Tuesday. The Braves also play the New York Yankees in the Bronx that night.