ATLANTA — Venezuelan Ronald Acuna Jr. had the first 40-70 season in major league history and helped the Braves take home-field advantage all the way to the National League Championship Series.
Acuna hit a game-tying RBI single and stole his 70th base in the 10th inning before scoring on Ozzie Albies’ single. 6-5 win All about the Cubs Wednesday night at Troost Park. Dominican Marcell Ozuna contributed to the win with a home run that tied the game in the ninth.
“I’d be lying to you if I thought I was going to achieve this feat,” Acuna admitted. “It was one of those impossible numbers, but it seemed impossible. Fortunately, I was able to do it.
Acuna reached base with one out in the eighth, then stole his 69th base uncontested. Catcher Yan Gomez’s throw to second base appeared to slip out of his hands to end up in left field. The Braves right fielder scored when Ozzie Albies followed with a tying single.
Acuña now has 41 home runs and 70 stolen bases. In the same month he achieved the fifth 40-40 campaign in MLB history. No one has ever had more than 46 stolen bases in a 40-home season.
“The guy is probably the only guy capable of breaking his own records,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.
Whether Acuna wins the National League Most Valuable Player award over Dodgers star Mookie Betts remains to be seen. But there is no doubt that the Venezuelan’s contribution to the Old Circuit’s most successful team this year has been worth its weight in gold.
“He’s the real MVP,” Albies exclaimed. “He fulfilled the dream he always had. He always talked about it, he always wanted to achieve it. “I feel very happy and excited that he achieved it in his home and in front of his people.”
Atlanta got an encouraging start from Darius Vines, who allowed three runs (two earned) in six innings. Vines gave up solo homers to Mike Tuchman and Ian Happ in the third inning. The other run he allowed came when plate umpire Shane Lievensparker missed a foul that was ruled a passed ball as it went to the backstop. When Braves catcher Sean Murphy reached for the new ball, Cody Bellinger ran home and scored.
The Braves were another devastating blow to the Cubs’ postseason hopes. Along the way, they secured home-field advantage throughout the playoffs in the National League.