Braves’ Acuna plays first home game against Giants

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Braves are in first place for the first time past April since 2014 and their fans finally get a chance to see one of the reasons why in a home uniform.

Rookie sensation Ronald Acuna Jr. makes his SunTrust Park debut Friday night as the Braves open a three-game series against the San Francisco Giants.

The 20-year-old outfielder played his first game in Cincinnati on April 25 and the Braves are 7-1 since after completing a three-game sweep of the Mets in New York to move atop the National League East.

Acuna hit his second home run on Thursday in the Braves’ 11-0 victory at CitiField, and he is batting .382 with five doubles, five RBIs and five runs scored.

Acuna’s homer in the series finale against the Mets traveled an estimated 451 feet.

“Batting, fielding, running the bases, he makes the club better,” manager Brian Snitker said. “He’s so athletic. The real good ones make an immediate impact. The kid has all the skills.”

Acuna batted .432 with four homers in spring training, but he got off to a slow start with Triple-A Gwinnett before being promoted a week or more later than expected.

The speedy right-handed hitter from Venezuela was at his head-turning best as soon as he made his Braves debut, though.

“I’ve never really felt any pressure, to be honest,” Acuna said through an interpreter. “When I signed (at age 16), I wasn’t really considered a highly touted prospect, so now it’s even better. I feel the same way. I’ve never really had that pressure.”

While the Braves (19-11) were going 7-3 on a road trip to Cincinnati, Philadelphia and New York, the Giants (16-15) were posting the same record on a 10-game homestand against Washington, the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego.

Mike Foltynewicz (2-1, 2.53 ERA) will start the series opener for the Braves, who have won five straight. Fellow right-hander Chris Stratton (2-2, 3.90) is getting the call for the Giants.

Foltynewicz is coming off his best outing of the season and Stratton is coming off his worst.

Foltynewicz limited the Phillies to one run and three hits in six innings in a win on Saturday, striking out six and walking two. He has 39 strikeouts in 32 innings this season.

Stratton lasted just 1 1/3 innings and gave up a career-high six runs on Saturday in a home loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Stratton, who was returning from a paternity leave, walked four in a 45-pitch first inning and all scored.

“I feel like my job is to put us in the best position to win the game and I blew it early on for us,” he told reporters afterward.

It will be Stratton’s first career start against the Braves. He has faced them twice in relief, not allowing a hit and striking out three in two innings.

Foltynewicz is 2-2 with a 4.45 ERA in five career starts against the Giants, giving up nine homers in 30 1/3 innings.

Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford have each taken Foltynewicz deep three times, and Buster Posey has done it twice.

The Braves were 4-3 against the Giants last year, winning three of four in Atlanta in June after losing two of three at San Francisco during May.

The weekend games with the Giants are the only home dates for the Braves in a three-week stretch.

The Braves are 8-4 at home and the Giants are 6-8 away from San Francisco.