Braves Recap: A’s spoil long awaited return of Soroka, beat the Braves 7-2

Atlanta Braves v Oakland Athletics
Atlanta Braves v Oakland Athletics / Loren Elliott/GettyImages

On a night in baseball that was filled with feel good stories, the Atlanta Braves played in a manner that didn’t give fans the best feelings. On the surface it was a 7-2 loss to the worst team in baseball. But regardless of how the game went, it was hard not to feel good for a young man that has overcome so much in the past three years. Braves right hander Michael Soroka took the hill for the first time 1,029 days. And he gave a performance that was as encouraging as we have seen in quiet some time.

The final line won’t be the best mark Soroka puts up this season, but the raw emotion we all felt as he worked his way through a major league lineup again hit us all in the feels. It was the same night that White Sox reliever, Liam Hendriks, made his first appearance since beating stage four cancer. So much across baseball to feel good about tonight. So much that you had to ask yourself, “How can you not be romantic about baseball?” Soroka has overcome so much, and as we thought his command wasn’t quite where he would like it to be yet, but don’t let that be the focus of the night. Instead focus on the perseverance that was displayed by this incredible young man and how excited we should be to see Michael Soroka once again on the mound for the Atlanta Braves.

The game action kicked off with Braves catcher Sean Murphy’s first plate appearance against his former squad occuring with runners on the corners and one out. After a Matt Olson walk and Austin Riley line drive single, Murphy poked a single up the middle to score Olson and give the Braves a 1-0 lead. Paul Blackburn, who was making his season debut as well, then struck out Marcell Ozuna and Eddie Rosario to escape further damage.

Then it was time to break out the tissues. Michael Soroka stepped on a big leauge mound for the first time in nearly three calendar years. After so many obstacles and so much pain, finally he had triumphed. It truly looked like he had never left. Soroka mowed down the top of the A’s order. Groundout, strikeout, groundout. Just like we saw all of 2019.

The bottom of the second started off with some flair, as Aledmys Diaz hit a fly ball out to left that was about to creep over the wall until super Eddie Rosario leaped up to rob him of a home run. The second home run robbery in as many games for Atlanta. The ball wasn’t exactly smoked as it had just a 91.4 exit velocity and .030 xBA but nonetheless it was a very nice catch by Eddie. Soroka then gave up his first baserunner after a two out walk to Ramon Laureano. In his first action pitching out the stretch Soroka was able to strikeout former Braves prospect Shea Langeliers.

After a mini two-out rally by the Braves in the top of the third, Blackburn then got Ozuna to pop out with two runners on to escape the jam. Oakland then responded with their first scoring threat after back to back singles and a HBP to load the bases with one out. Early on Soroka had a really good changeup working, and threw three straight beautiful ones to get Seth Brown to ground into a double play and keep the game at 1-0 after three innings of play.

After a scoreless fourth inning from both sides, the Braves then saw the Oakland bullpen for the first time. Rookie Lucas Erceg looked really good as set down the top of the Braves lineup in order. Unfortunately, the A’s made a lot of noise in the bottom half of the fifth. Soroka hit his second batter to start the inning. That was followed by a couple one out singles, the latter by Esteury Ruiz tied the game at one. Ryan Noda then followed with a three-run homer down the right field line and in the blink of an eye Oakland had a 4-1 lead.

It was time for the Braves offense to go to work against the worst pitching staff in the major leagues and pickup Soroka. Unfortunately, it was more AB’s from a team that looked like they made a cross-country flight and got very little rest. Erceg was able to give the A’s another 1-2-3 inning.

Michael Soroka then walked out for his final inning of work and he made sure to finish with a flourish. He worked around a one out walk and then got Langeliers and Jace Peterson to weakly pop out to end his night. Soroka’s final line was 6 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 2 HBP, and 3 Ks. Pretty incredible work for your first major league action in 1,029 days.

Kirby Yates was the first to enter out the Atlanta bullpen and had some control issues as well for a moment as he plunked the second man he faced. Thankfully, he was able to recover as he picked off Ruiz at first and proceeded to strikeout Noda to keep the score at 4-1.

Thankfully, prime Pedro Martinez, I mean Lucas Erceg exited the game and Shintaro Fujinami came on in relief in the eighth. Matt Olson made sure to greet him rudely and showcase to his former team the power they traded away as he hit his third homer in two nights to cut the lead to 4-2. Sadly, the scoring in the inning ended there.

Unfortunately the hopes of a comeback to a hit in the top of the ninth as Lucas Luetge entered and battled control issues. After another HBP and walk Laureano cashed in with an RBI single to make it 5-2 A’s. Then the comeback hopes felt completely dashed after a swinging bunt and a blooper scored a couple more runs and ended the night for Luetge.

The Braves went out in the bottom of the ninth without much of a fight, as A’s closer Trevor May shut the game down. In the end it was a 7-2 win for Oakland, and more importantly for them snapped their eleven game losing streak. However, the most important thing on the night for the Braves was that Michael Soroka looked as incredible as he did. The movement on his pitches was there, the command of the changeup was solid, and he even touched 96 mph on the radar gun. Soroka exited this game healthy and to a job well done, and that was the best development from this game the Braves could have asked for.