Soroka wins MLB debut, pitches baby Braves past Mets 3-2
NEW YORK (AP) —
Mike Soroka’s family and friends came all the way from Western Canada to see his major league debut Tuesday night. Even still, the last thing he wanted to do was look up at them in the stands.
“I didn’t want to get caught in a moment too much,” he said. “I could hear them, that’s for sure, and I think that to have their support here is — you can’t compare it.”
A poised Soroka pitched six impressive innings to win for Atlanta, and the baby Braves hammered Noah Syndergaard at the outset of a 3-2 victory over the New York Mets.
With the three youngest big league players all in their starting lineup, including the 20-year-old Soroka, the surprising Braves (17-11) began the game with four consecutive hits off Syndergaard to build a three-run cushion. Freddie Freeman’s double drove in newbies Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr. before Nick Markakis added an RBI single.
Soroka held New York in check and became the first starting pitcher 20 or younger to win his major league debut since Scott Kazmir for Tampa Bay in 2004, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“He was really good. It’s not like it shocked me,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “The stuff, the composure, how he went about it was all very impressive.”
Following a festive clubhouse celebration with teammates, Soroka planned to enjoy the rest of the night with family and friends who made the 2,400-mile trek from his hometown of Calgary, Alberta.
“There was no way we were missing this one,” his dad, Gary, said during the game. “I was much more nervous than he was.”
New York scored once in the ninth and had a runner on second with two outs when pinch-hitter Jose Reyes lofted a fly to left field. Acuna got twisted around as he retreated but made a shaky-looking catch near the warning track to secure Arodys Vizcaino’s fourth save.
Atlanta has won three straight and five of six.
Back quickly from a sore thumb, Yoenis Cespedes homered and got three hits for the NL East-leading Mets (17-10). He also threw out a runner at home plate from left field.
“That guy’s an animal. It’s going to take a lot more than a little thumb issue to take him out of the lineup,” Syndergaard said.
Pinch-hitter Wilmer Flores had an RBI groundout in the ninth.
Soroka (1-0) became the latest top prospect called up by the Braves and fit right in with an excellent performance. With his father and sister among backers on the third base side who brought along a Canadian flag, Soroka gave up one run and six hits. The right-hander struck out five and walked none to outpitch an imposing ace in Syndergaard on his home mound.
“I think we’re all going to be really exhausted,” Gary Soroka said. “His pitch count was 80. I think mine was more like 180. I’m ready to just relax and I know he will be, too.”
Soroka joined Acuna, who is about four months younger, and the 21-year-old Albies to give Atlanta the three youngest players in the majors.
The previous big league team to have three players as young as Albies in the same starting lineup was also the Braves — 40 years ago. Third baseman Bob Horner, second baseman Glenn Hubbard and center fielder Eddie Milner started in a 2-1 loss to Cincinnati on Sept. 24, 1978.
“It’s kind of what we’ve been working towards here for a little while,” Snitker said. “You’ve been hearing about these guys and then you finally get them up here and it’s exciting. It’s fun. It’s energizing for everybody.”
Acuna, off to a sizzling start since getting called up last week, had two more hits — including a first-inning double that followed Albies’ leadoff single. Acuna’s father was Reyes’ teammate during his time as a Mets farmhand from 1999-2004.
Syndergaard (2-1) recovered from his rough start and lasted six innings. But he allowed 10 of Atlanta’s 15 hits, equaling a career high, and struck out a season-low three. The right-hander is 0-2 in six starts against the Braves, the only team he’s faced multiple times and never beaten.
“This loss is really just all on me,” Syndergaard said. “I came out aggressive, (they) ambushed me. I’ve got to tip my hat to them on that.”