Cruz Hits Two More Bombs in Twins Loss to Braves
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Atlanta Braves set the tone for what turned out to be a big offensive night from the very first pitch.
Ronald Acuña Jr. and Freddie Freeman hit first-pitch homers off Minnesota ace Jose Berríos and the Braves routed the Twins 12-7 Tuesday night.
The first three batters in Atlanta's lineup — Acuña, Ozzie Albies and Freeman — combined to go 10 for 16 with nine runs and eight RBIs. Acuña scored four runs and Freeman drove in four.
Acuña sent the first pitch by Berríos into deep center field for his sixth leadoff homer of the season and the 14th of his career.
"To be able to see the first pitch of the game and to be able to hit a home run, it's obviously something extremely emotional," Acuña said through an interpreter. "It's great."
Freeman made it 4-0 when he hit Berríos' first offering for a three-run shot in the fourth inning. The blast helped Freeman keep pace with Acuña for the team lead in homers with 28.
"We're making the good pitchers work really hard lately," Freeman said.
It was one of the worst starts of Berríos' career. He allowed a career-high nine runs in the loss and slipped to 10-6. His bad night got worse in the sixth inning when he balked in a run. Albies hit an RBI triple later in the inning that chased Berrios.
"Jose's been pitching great for us," said Twins manager Rocco Baldelli. "We ran into a good team swinging the bats well, and he might not have been completely on what he was wanting to do tonight."
Braves righty Mike Foltynewicz (3-5) returned to the majors after spending the last month with Triple-A Gwinnett. An All-Star last year, Foltynewicz posted a 6.37 ERA in 11 starts before getting demoted to the minors.
Foltynewicz was 4-0 with a 2.67 ERA during his six starts in the minor leagues prior to Tuesday's outing. He worked on getting his slider back to being an effective pitch.
It certainly was against the Twins.
"The slider was really good," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "He used his whole assortment. I thought it was very encouraging."
Foltynewicz kept Minnesota's offense quiet while his own offense continued to put runs on the board. He allowed just two hits through five innings but was tagged for three runs, including two homers, in the sixth.
By that point, the Braves had built the right-hander an 11-0 lead to allow Foltynewicz to earn the win.
"All my pitches were working for a solid five innings," Foltynewicz said. "It seemed like we kept them off balance the whole game."
Minnesota's Nelson Cruz hit his 31st and 32nd home runs of the season, homering in the sixth and seventh innings. He has six multi-homer games this year, tying Harmon Killebrew in Twins' history for the most in a season.
"The ball's traveling a little bit more than normal, and you wait for mistakes," Cruz said.
The Twins swatted four total homers Tuesday and have 223 home runs this season, the second-highest total in team history. Minnesota needs two more to tie the team record of 225, set in 1963.
Braves: CF Ender Inciarte was back in the lineup Tuesday after leaving Monday's game with left quadriceps tightness. ... The Braves still don't have a return date for SS Dansby Swanson (left foot contusion), manager Brian Snitker said Tuesday. "As soon as he can get back out there and run the bases and things like that, then we'll have an idea of when we're looking at him going to play in a game."
Twins: Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said OF Lamonte Wade and INF Willians Astudillo could both soon begin rehab assignments in Fort Myers, Florida. Wade dislocated his thumb in early July and hasn't played since July 6. Astudillo hasn't played since June 26, due to a strained oblique.
Braves: LHP Max Fried has won three straight starts and looks to pick up his 13th win of the season. He won his only other interleague start this year, in April against Cleveland.
Twins: LHP Martin Perez will look to get back on track after allowing five runs in five innings in his last start against Kansas City. Perez has earned just one win in his last 11 outings.