I don’t understand all the hype for this kid Acuña. Jeff Francouer hit a three run homer in his first game in the major leagues. Jason Heyward hit a three run dinger in his first at bat in the bigs. It took Acuña until his first at bat of his second game to go yard, and his first was a solo shot. Clearly, he will never amount to the hitter that Frenchy and J-Hey became.
Of course, we don’t know how this Acuña thing will work out, but the excitement for now is pretty incredible. The Braves have the two youngest players in MLB, and both homered today. Acuña went 3 for 5 with a single and double to go with his homer; Albies homered and doubled. With 19, Ozzie now has set the all time franchise record for extra base hits before May 1. Acuña looks like the real deal and a superstar in the making; Ozzie is already proving it on the field. The last time a pair of teammates Albies’ age or younger each homered in the same game was 40 years ago. Those kids were the Braves’ own Bob Horner and Glen Hubbard.
Actually, Acuña’s shot was not just a homer. In the pregame hype show before his first game on Wednesday, they showed the same interview with Chipper at least three times, in which Chipper said that Acuña approaches the plate “with malice aforethought.” As is often the case with Chipper, I had no idea what he was talking about. But on Thursday afternoon it became clear; Ronald murdered the baseball. His homer had an exit velocity of 105.8 mph, and a distance of 416, although to my eye it was at least 500.
Other good things happened today. Freddie had three doubles. Newcomb had six strikeouts, no walks, and no runs through 4 innings, and he also pitched a scoreless sixth. The starter went six full innings!! What about the 5th, you ask? It was a very Newk inning. He walked sluggers Phil Gosselin and Billy Hamilton on 8 pitches. Sean hasn’t asked for my advice, but here it is anyway–Just throw the ball over the plate!! What’s the worst thing that could happen with these two?! So of course a couple of batters later Votto hit a three run homer. After the game, Newk said “I think it boils down to that Votto at bat. Obviously I missed with one pitch. Other than that I was in control. I just chalk it up to making a bad pitch to a great hitter.”
Sean, I love you man, but you’re missing the point. It all boiled down to walking freaking Phil Gosselin and Billy Hamilton. Votto is going to hit home runs. Add together Gosselin’s and Hamilton’s career slugging percentages and you still don’t get to .700. Don’t walk them!
Still, I’m pretty encouraged about Newcomb this year. He’s had significant stretches in which he’s showing that he just might be a very solid starter.
Speaking of encouraging, how about the bullpen the last two games? Three scoreless innings today and four yesterday. The key? It’s no secret—just two walks in those seven innings. As Joe Schultz might tell them, throw strikes so we can pound the Budweiser!!
This team is so fun. Next up—the schedule says we’re in Philadelphia again. I assume that’s a typo; we couldn’t play them nine times before May 1. On the other hand, it that’s true, I look forward to Ozzie going to Citizens Bank to set the all-time ML record for extra base hits before May 1. He only has 4 to go. Of course, if he keeps this up, Ozzie’s new teammate Acuña might set the record for May.