Soroka allowed three earned runs in 6-2/3 innings against what manager Brian Snitker coined a “pesky” lineup. It marked his “worst” start of the season, bumping his ERA to 1.41. Soroka had set a new standard, allowing one or no runs in his first eight starts.
The victory was Soroka’s eighth, making him the youngest pitcher to record eight wins in Atlanta franchise history (21).
“We came in with the same attitude we had in the eight previous (starts), and we really executed the same way we had been,” Soroka said. “We got a couple weak-contact balls in that (fifth) inning, and two came around. That’s the way baseball is. I had a couple games where we’d gotten lucky with some hard-hit balls right at guys. Some days those are going to fall. That’s alright with me.”
Saturday also marked only the third time in 14 career starts when Soroka allowed more than one run. The Tigers collected seven hits against him, and their runs came through singles by Brandon Dixon and Christin Stewart of Providence Christian Academy.
“He was great,” shortstop Swanson said of Soroka. “We’re just not accustomed to seeing him give up runs. You look at the way he pitched, a lot of times they were just putting balls where we weren’t. So tough luck for him. But he still pounds the zone and keeps everyone involved. He’s real confident with what he does up there.”
Fortunately, Soroka had the benefit of an offense. Freddie Freeman’s two-run shot off Daniel Norris gave the Braves their first lead in the fourth. Austin Riley’s two-run blast in sixth extended the lead to 6-3. Swanson continued his power renaissance with his own solo homer in the seventh.
“It was much needed,” Riley said. “Mike did a great job today. We were back and forth there for a second and we pulled through. We got some key hits. It was a good day.”
Johan Camargo’s run-scoring double and Ronald Acuna’s bloop hit helped the Braves add three runs in the ninth. Acuna, who’s scuffled lately, had three RBIs.
Ten runs equaled the Braves’ total in their past three home games, all losses. The Braves also re-evened their record at SunTrust Park (15-15); like last year, the team has found more success on the road.
Among the feathers in the Braves’ pitching cap, Luke Jackson. The unsung hero tossed the final 1-2/3 innings, striking out five Tigers.
“He’s made us go,” Snitker said. “He came in and when we lost (Arodys Vizcaino) and were searching - we’re doing really well right now because of him. He’s had a big part in this and how he’s emerged. The role he’s taken isn’t an easy role either. He’s done an unbelievable job with it.”
The Braves start Julio Teheran against Detroit’s Matthew Boyd in Sunday’s finale. The two teams won’t meet again this season.