01 Sep

seizing the moment

On May 9, 2017, before a modest-sized crowd at Trustmark Park in Pearl, Ronald Acuna Jr. demonstrated the flair for the dramatic that has become a defining characteristic of the Atlanta Braves outfielder. In his first Double-A game — a big moment for every professional player — on the first pitch he saw, Acuna launched a home run over the left-field fence. He went 3-for-4 with three RBIs in that game, powering the Mississippi Braves to victory. That indelible memory bubbled up — yet again — while watching Acuna on Thursday night. Facing the Los Angeles Dodgers before a huge crowd at Dodger Stadium, the 25-year-old Venezuela native hit his 30th homer of the 2023 season, becoming the first player in MLB history to have 30 homers and 60 steals in the same season. More than that, the history-making homer was a grand slam — a 429-foot bomb to left-center in the second inning that gave the Braves a four-run lead en route to a hair-raising 8-7 win over a team it might just meet again for the National League pennant. Acuna, also a superb right fielder, later came within inches of robbing Mookie Betts of one of the two home runs he hit in fueling LA’s comeback. (And, yes, Acuna got married to his longtime girlfriend hours before the game. Talk about dramatic.) With a month left in the season, Acuna is on an MVP track, batting .337 with 30 homers, 83 RBIs, 120 runs and 62 steals. … Former M-Braves Austin Riley and Michael Harris II also homered for Atlanta against Lance Lynn, the warhorse out of Ole Miss who suffered his first bad outing in six for the Dodgers since being acquired in a trade. Lynn has allowed the most homers — 37 — in the majors this season. Spencer Strider, another M-Braves alum, went six innings for Atlanta, punching out nine, to get the win, his 16th, which leads MLB. He may well be on a Cy Young Award track.

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