It’s Jackie Robinson Day, and the only bad news that I can think of on a wonderful day like this is that if you multiply 4 times 2, you get 8 — which just so happens to be the number of losses that the Braves currently have over their first 12 games of the season. They’ll be looking to avoid losing their ninth game out of thirteen and getting swept at home by the Miami Marlins in today’s game.
The biggest story going into today’s game is the continued hot streak that Ronald Acuña Jr. is currently riding. Last night, Acuña was the main reason why the Braves were able to even stretch the game into extra innings, as the dynamic outfielder for Atlanta added two more home runs and a double to his already-impressive line of statistics here in the very early stages of the season. As of right now, Acuña is playing beyond-elite baseball and it’s been truly marvelous to watch.
These stats from Mark Bowman did a pretty good job of putting things in perspective. You know you’re in rarefied air when you’re on a hot streak comparable to one that Henry Aaron was once on:
Acuña has tallied an MLB-high six homers and he has totaled 13 extra-bases. That ties him with Hank Aaron (1959) for the most extra-base hits by a Braves player through the first 12 games of a season.
Acuña’s first home run had a 110.8 mph exit velocity and his double came off the bat at the same exact velocity. He’s the first Braves player with multiple 110-plus mph extra-base hits in the same game tracked by Statcast (since 2015).
It’s good that Acuña is currently going on a rampage because on the flip side of things, it’s been tough sledding for all other Atlanta Braves players not named Ronald Acuña Jr. It’s been particularly rough for the pitching staff, which has mostly struggled to hold the Miami Marlins at bay throughout this series. It’s especially frustrating when you consider that outside of an outburst on April 3 against the Rays, the Marlins had been struggling to put together runs. They’ve had no such issues in Cobb County, as they’ve racked up 25 runs over the first three games of this series and have scored at least five runs in each of those games.
Therefore, the onus is now on Ian Anderson to go out there and at least make sure that things start off on the right foot for the pitching staff today. It would be nice to see him avoid giving up the long ball — he’s given up at least one dinger in both of his starts so far this season. This was after he gave up only one homer over the six regular season starts he made last season. I’d imagine that simply keeping the ball in the park would do a lot to help him in his goal of keeping the Marlins off the scoreboard tomorrow. Anderson has shown some pretty good stuff at times — the Braves just need him to put it all together over a string of consecutive innings and they really need it right now if they’re going to break this losing streak.
Meanwhile, the Marlins will be giving the ball to Trevor Rogers. Rogers must be flying high on confidence after his most recent outing, because he’s able to boast that he went toe-to-toe with Jacob deGrom. While deGrom pitched yet another gem over eight innings, Rogers was right there with him for six shutout innings as the Marlins went on to win that game 3-0. On top of that, Rogers struck out 10 Mets batters during that game and only walked two while giving up three hits, so the rookie hurler really had it going on that afternoon. With that being said, Rogers has seen the Braves before and things didn’t go well for him — Atlanta got him for eight hits and five runs over four innings last September. A lot of the Braves who are regulars in the lineup saw Rogers back then, so here’s hoping that they can turn in a similar-or-better performance against him this time around.
The good news about this current rough spell for the Braves is that nobody else in the NL East has gotten off to a great start. So while things are not going particularly well for Atlanta at the moment, they’re still in decent shape when it comes to the grand scheme of things. This team has the talent to get things back on track, and hopefully that’ll be put on display with a good performance today. Plus, nobody wants to take a four-game home sweep on the chin, so it’s imperative that the Braves pick up a win today just to avoid getting swept out of town by the Marlins.
Game Date/Time: Thursday, April 15, 12:20 p.m. ET
Location: Truist Park, Atlanta, Georgia
TV: Bally Sports South, MLB Network (Out-of-market only)
Radio: 680 AM / 93.7 FM The Fan, WNNX 100.5, Braves Radio Network