Yesterday was a highly anticipated day for two of the organization’s top pitchers. Kyle Wright made his season debut at the major-league level after rehabbing his shoulder throughout the offseason, and Mike Soroka made his second appearance for the Gwinnett Stripers as he aims to get back to Atlanta. I expect both guys to be critical pieces of what the Braves are trying to accomplish in 2023, but their outings on Tuesday were polar opposites.
Soroka started things off shaky in an afternoon contest against the Redbirds. He allowed the first two runners to quickly reach second and third with nobody out, but he was able to escape the inning with minimal damage — surrendering just one run — thanks to two strikeouts. The Maple Maddux was on cruise control for the rest of his outing, allowing just a couple of more hits and a walk over the next three innings. His stuff looked fantastic once again, and he was able to throw over 70 pitches, signaling he’s one step closer to returning to the big-league club.
Kyle Wright’s debut was a struggle from the jump. It was apparent from the very first inning that he didn’t have much control of the baseball. He was able to work around a walk and a hit-by-pitch, but it was a trend that would continue.
In the third inning, a single and a double put Wright in an immediate jam, and he went back to some of the old habits he developed prior to his breakout 2022 campaign. Wright was trying to be too perfect with his pitches, and it cost him. A walk and another hit-by-pitch led to the Reds first run of the game. An infield single then led to two more runs, which was followed by a couple of more walks, which capped off a four-run inning for Cincinnati. Wright was able to finish the inning, but his night was over after just 75 pitches.
Thankfully, the Braves bats were alive in this one. A Ronald Acuna Jr. single in the third cut the lead to two, and Ozzie Albies helped tie the game with a two-run homer in the fourth — the 100th homer of his career. The Braves would then take the lead later in the inning on a Sam Hilliard double before adding two more runs in the following innings.
By the 8th, Atlanta had stretched their lead to 7-4, but a two-run 455-foot blast off of the newly acquired Joe Jimenez ensured nobody was leaving the ballpark early. This one got sweaty, but Dylan Lee and Nick Anderson did a fantastic job of shutting the door and recorded the final five outs without allowing a runner to reach base.
It was another big win for the Braves, who now sit comfortably on top of the NL East at 8-4, two games clear of second place. And despite his lackluster performance, it was nice seeing Kyle Wright back on the mound. A shaky start to begin the season after an irregular offseason is nothing to be alarmed about. He should be just fine as he continues to stretch out and feel more confident in his stuff.
Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire
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