ATLANTA – The homers just keep coming for the Atlanta Braves, who have their sights set on being the most prolific power team in baseball history.
Ronald Acuña Jr., Austin Riley and Matt Olson went deep for the MLB-leading Braves, who cruised to a 12-5 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday.
Acuña launched a three-run shot over the center-field wall off Lucas Giolito (6-8) in the third inning, then Riley and Olson went back to back in the fourth to cap a six-run outburst that finished off the Angels' starter.
“It's crazy,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “What these guys are doing is something else.”
The Braves hit seven homers in taking two of three from the Angels, with the long ball accounting for 11 of their 18 runs. Through 106 games, Atlanta has 206 homers — on pace for 315 for the season, which would best the major league record of 307 set by the 2019 Minnesota Twins.
“When you're trying to hit homers, the results don't come," Riley said. “I think guys are going up there and just trying to put up good at-bats. Guys are strong, and they aren't trying to do too much.”
Yonny Chirinos (5-4), making his second start for the Braves since being acquired after Tampa Bay designated him for assignment, pitched five strong innings before being lifted after the first two batters singled in the sixth.
Chirinos wound up being charged with three runs after both runners came around to score against reliever Michael Tonkin, who could've escaped the jam but failed to touch the bag while covering first on a potential inning-ending double play.
“I'm extremely happy to be a member of this organization,” Chirinos said through an interpreter. “I'm fortunate to have this offensive support. It gives you the confidence to attack hitters.”
Giolito had a far worse outing in his second start for the Angels, who acquired him from the Chicago White Sox in one of several trades designed to boost Los Angeles' playoff hopes. He matched his career high by giving up nine earned runs in 3 2/3 innings.
Acuña's 420-foot shot was his 25th homer of a historic season that has stamped him as the National League's MVP favorite. He also reached on a single, double and a walk, coming around to score each time.
Hunter Renfroe and Eduardo Escobar had two RBIs apiece for the Angels.
REUNION WITH DANSBY
Atlanta is heading to Chicago for a weekend series against the Cubs — and a reunion with longtime Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson.
Swanson signed with the Cubs in free agency, leaving the team he helped to five straight NL East titles and a World Series championship in 2021.
“He's very special to this organization,” Snitker said. “He's a big reason we've had all this success. It will be a good to see him. I just hope he doesn't play the former team card.”
Jordyn Adams had a tough day for the Angels in his big league debut.
A first-round pick in 2018, Adams got the start in center field but struggled defensively. He twice made high throws in futile attempts to throw out runners — allowing Acuña to take an extra base each time — and misplayed a liner by Michael Harris II that was generously ruled a double.
At the plate, Adams went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts.
OHTANI VS ACUNA
Acuña’s big day gave him an edge in the three-game matchup between the overwhelming MVP favorites in each league.
For the series, the Braves slugger went 3 for 9 with four walks, a homer, three RBIs and four runs.
Shohei Ohtani went 5 of 10 with a walk but failed to pick up an RBI and scored only one run.
“It seemed like Ohtani was leading off the inning a lot in this series, which helped,” Snitker said. “He's such a force.”
The Braves placed RHP Daysbel Hernández on the 15-day injured list with a right forearm strain, as he joined three other Atlanta relievers sidelined with various ailments. LHP Brad Hand joined the roster, one day after being acquired from Colorado in a trade-deadline deal. Coming back from Tommy John surgery, Hernández made his major-league debut on July 23. He allowed three runs in four appearances covering 3 2/3 innings.
Angels: Ohtani (9-5, 3.43 ERA), who was skipped over in Atlanta after dealing with blister issues, makes his first start in a week to begin a four-game series at Seattle on Thursday. He'll be opposed by RHP Bryan Woo (1-3, 4.96) of the Mariners.
Braves: After an off day, LH Max Fried (2-1) returns to the Braves' rotation on Friday for the series opener against the Cubs. The Atlanta ace hasn't pitched in the majors since May 5, when he went down with a strained left forearm.
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb