ATLANTA – Michael Wacha stuck out his pitching hand to stop a grounder hit by Atlanta leadoff hitter Ronald Acuña Jr. to open the game.
It was the only time the San Diego right-hander felt discomfort in a dominant performance.
Wacha matched his career high with 10 strikeouts, Juan Soto homered and the Padres overcame a ninth-inning scare to beat the Braves 4-1 on Saturday night.
“I felt like I had command of pretty much everything,” Wacha said.
Wacha (2-0) allowed only two hits – a double and single by Matt Olson – over six innings with one walk.
“It’s great to see him pitch a game like that against the lineup they have and as hot as they’ve been,” said Padres manager Bob Melvin, adding Wacha “really showed us what he’s made of and why we signed him.”
Wacha’s deal agreed to in February is worth a guaranteed $26 million over four years. Depending on bonuses and player or team options, the deal could be worth $39 million over three years.
The first-pitch temperature was 44 degrees after steady rain most of the day. Wacha felt the chill when he deflected the grounder hit by Acuña with his right hand to open the game.
“It was a little numb, I guess a little stingy,” Wacha said. He recovered to throw out Acuña at first base before striking out the next two hitters.
Braves manager Brian Snitker said he expects catcher Travis d’Arnaud to be placed on the seven-day concussion injury list following a fourth-inning collision with Rougned Odor at the plate. Sean Murphy replaced d’Arnaud in the sixth inning.
“He’s had a few of them,” said Snitker of d’Arnaud’s history of concussions. “That’s nothing to mess around with.”
Wacha, who pitched for St. Louis in his first seven seasons, had been 0-4 with a 5.23 ERA in eight games against the Braves.
Wacha’s previous game with 10 strikeouts was for the Cardinals at Colorado on June 9, 2015.
Hader struck out Arcia for his third save, the 15th strikeout by Braves batters, finishing a five-hitter and giving the Padres two wins in the first three games in the four-game series.
Soto put the Padres ahead with a 428-foot homer to right-center off Charlie Morton (1-1) in the third. Morton allowed three runs, two earned, six hits and three walks in five innings.
San Diego took a 3-0 lead in the fourth but wasted an opportunity for another run. Jake Cronenworth singled, stole second and advanced to third on d’Arnaud’s errant throw to second. Cronenworth scored on Rougned Odor’s grounder when d’Arnaud couldn’t handle Albies’ throw from second.
Ha-Seong Kim followed with a grounder to Matt Olson at first base. Olson’s throw to the plate skipped past d’Arnaud. Odor collided with d’Arnaud at the plate before Kim also crossed the plate. Following an appeal by the Braves, plate umpire Chad Fairchild ruled Odor didn’t initially touch the plate. After Kim scored, Ordor circled back to touch the plate, but because Kim already crossed the plate it was too late.
Wacha’s dominance made up the base-running blunder. He struck out the side in the third and didn’t allow a runner past second base.
Olson’s third hit, a run-scoring single off Luis García in the eighth, drove in Sam Hilliard from second base to cut San Diego’s lead to 3-1.
Braves rookie left-hander Jared Shuster was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett after giving up four runs on four walks and six hits in Friday night’s 5-4 loss to the Padres.
The Braves promoted left-hander Danny Young from Gwinnett. Right-hander Seth Elledge was designated for assignment. Young allowed a ninth-inning double to Odor, who scored on a wild pitch by Kirby Yates.
CITY CONNECT UNIFORM DEBUT
On the 49th anniversary of Hank Aaron’s record-breaking 715th home run on April 8, 1974, the Braves debuted their City Connect uniform. The Braves will wear the uniform on their Saturday home games this season.
Aaron’s widow, Billye Aaron, attended the game.
The Braves could soon have two starters return to their rotation. RHP Kyle Wright (right shoulder inflammation) is eligible to come off the injury list on Tuesday. LHP Max Fried (strained left hamstring) is “heading in the right direction … making sure he’s checking boxes and is ready to go,” Snitker said. Fried could come off the IL as soon as next Saturday but has not yet thrown off the mound and won’t be rushed in his return.
Wacha has 10 Ks, Soto hits homer, as Padres beat Braves, 4-1 originally appeared on NBCSports.com
Source: Yahoo Sports