2. Outfielder Ronald Acuña led off with a first-pitch homer, his sixth such blast of the season. He homered off Wainwright again in the sixth, also smacking the first pitch of the at-bat. It marked his third multi-homer game this season, and it was the first time he hit multiple homers off first pitches.
The fifth 40-40 season in MLB history is within grasp: Acuña needs six more homers over the next 23 games. He’s already stolen 63 bases.
“That was never the goal, but now that it’s in sight, obviously that’d be nice,” Acuña said via team interpreter Franco Garcia. “With the season being at the end, and the numbers being where they are, it feels like it’s getting tight. The most important thing has been to stay healthy.”
Manager Brian Snitker: “There’s a good chance (he reaches 40-40). Nothing he’s going to do is ever going to surprise me.”
Acuña, of course, was interrupted by injuries over the past two seasons after tearing his ACL in July 2021. But he hasn’t missed a game this season. His career high in games played was 156 in 2019.
“The past two seasons I’d struggled or battled injuries, so to be able to play all 162 games and go to the postseason and keep playing, that’s the goal,” he said.
3. To open the fifth, Acuña and second baseman Ozzie Albies hit balls to deep center that required excellent plays by Tommy Edman to record outs. The third time, though, a ball landed in the seats. First baseman Matt Olson homered for the fourth consecutive game, putting the Braves ahead. He continues leading the majors with 47 home runs.
Olson’s four-game homer streak came after an 18-game drought. His 47 home runs are tied with Hank Aaron (1971) and Eddie Mathews (1953) for the second-highest single-season total in franchise history. Olson could become the second Brave to reach the 50-homer mark, and he’s four shy of tying Andruw Jones’ record of 51 set in 2005.
4. The Cardinals feature some Georgia ties. This was Wainwright’s final start in his home state, as the Brunswick native has said he’s retiring at season’s end. It’s been a difficult final season for the former Braves farmhand, and that continued Thursday. He was charged six earned runs on eight hits across 5-2/3 innings. He surrendered four homers – he hadn’t allowed more than two in any start previously – as his ERA ballooned to 8.19.
“Wainwright is a living legend and he deserves all the respect that he gets,” Acuña said of the 18-year veteran.
Snitker added: “I really hope he gets that 200th (win; he has 198). I hope he can win his next two starts. That’d be awesome for him.”
Cardinals right fielder Jordan Walker, who entered the season their top prospect and youngest major leaguer at age 20, is from Stone Mountain and attended Decatur High School. He and Wainwright both had large contingents at Truist Park.
5. The Braves won the season series against St. Louis, 4-2, for the fifth consecutive season. They’ve defeated the Cardinals in 15 of their last 21 meetings.
Stat to know
5 -- The Braves had 10 hits on Thursday. Five were home runs. Acuña hit two, while Olson, outfielder Michael Harris and catcher Travis d’Arnaud also went deep.
“If we were going to lose Freddie (Freeman), that was the perfect guy. You couldn’t go out and make a trade for anybody else that was going to be better than what he brings and the total package. Now spending a year and a half, almost two years with him, it’s been everything I thought it’d be. The guy is just off the charts.” – Snitker on Olson
The Braves open a three-game series Friday against the Pirates. Bryce Elder (11-4, 3.42) will oppose Pirates ace Mitch Keller (11-8, 3.93).