Spencer Strider turned in a strong performance and Ronald Acuña Jr. hit his 17th home run of the season to help the Atlanta Braves to a 4-1 win over the Minnesota Twins.
Strider pitched out of some immediate trouble in the first. He allowed a leadoff single to Edouard Julien and a walk to Max Kepler but worked out of it in a scoreless first. He struck out Donovan Solano to start the second before Joey Gallo tagged him for a solo home run to center to give the Twins a 1-0 lead. Strider got Kyle Farmer to pop out and Ryan Jeffers to line out sharply to avoid any more damage.
Strider sandwiched two strikeouts around a single by Alex Kirilloff in a scoreless third.
Spencer Strider's 2Ks in the 3rd.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 27, 2023
4Ks thru 3 pic.twitter.com/CKiHCn20Kp
Atlanta’s offense started slowly against Sonny Gray. Travis d’Arnaud singled in the second, but was then picked off first base. Michael Harris doubled off the wall in right center in the third, but was left stranded as Acuña grounded out to short.
Strider added two more strikeouts and his first 1-2-3 inning in the fourth and the Braves offense finally got on the board. Austin Riley and Matt Olson hit back-to-back singles to put runners at the corners with one out. d’Arnaud then sent a slow chopper to short, but beat the throw at first. Riley scored on the play to tie the game 1-1. Marcell Ozuna lined out on a nice play by shortstop Carlos Correa to end the inning.
Strider added two more strikeouts and retired the side in order in order in the fifth. Harris reached with a two-out single in the home half of the inning and moved up to second on a walk by Acuña, but Albies struck out to leave them stranded.
Strider retired 13-straight hitters before walking Gallo with two outs in the seventh. He would exit having allowed three hits, two walks and one run over seven innings. He struck out 10 which was the fifth double-digit strikeout game of his career.
Atlanta struck again against Gray in the home half of the seventh as Marcell Ozuna connected for a solo shot to right center to make it 2-1. The blast was just the third homer surrendered by Gray this season.
The Braves weren’t finished though. Gray retired Eddie Rosario and Orlando Arcia on ground outs, but Harris reached on a single off the glove of Kiriloff at first base. That would end Gray’s night as he was replaced by Emilio Pagan who promptly served up a two-run shot to Acuña to push the lead to 4-1.
Collin McHugh took over in the eighth and retired Ryan Jeffers thanks to a nice sliding catch by Rosario in left for the first out. He then allowed back-to-back singles to Julien and Kirilloff before Max Kepler flew out to left for the second out. Julien declined to test Rosario’s arm, but Kirilloff moved up to second on the play. Brian Snitker then went back to his bullpen for Ben Heller who got Correa to fly out to right to strand the runners.
Kirby Yates closed things out in the ninth to pick up his first save since the 2020 season.
The win pushes Atlanta’s season record to 51-27. The series will continue Tuesday with Bryce Elder squaring off against Joe Ryan.