Braves’ Soroka to make “second debut” at Toronto
The 20-year-old from Calgary will be making his fifth major league start, but Tuesday night in the opener of a two-game set against the Toronto Blue Jays he will be pitching against the team he grew up watching and with friends in attendance.
Soroka (2-1, 2.57 ERA) will be facing Blue Jays left-hander Jaime Garcia (2-5, 5.71), who is 3-1 with a 3.62 ERA in eight career starts against Atlanta.
It also will be a return for first-year Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos, who was the Blue Jays GM from October 2009 through 2015.
“Even though I’m from the other side of Canada, it’s the one team you grew up watching,” Soroka told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It’ll be pretty special.”
He has pitched before at the Rogers Centre, as a 15-year-old in a tournament.
“It’s almost like a second debut of sorts,” Soroka said. “Just get out there, knowing that a bunch of friends are going to be coming there, a lot of friends who’ve been Blue Jays fans for a long time too. … I’m just going to be familiar with the Rogers Centre, so that’s going to be cool too. And I’ll be out there on a mound I’ve been on before too, so that’s pretty awesome.”
Soroka is coming off his best major league outing. After spending a month on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation, he carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning of a 2-0 win over the New York Mets Wednesday. He left after 6 1/3 innings, allowing one hit and one walk and adding four strikeouts.
Soroka does not expect to feel more excitement in this start Tuesday than he did in his previous four.
“There’s a certain amount of amped up you can have in the big leagues,” Soroka said. “I don’t think I’ll be any more amped up than I was my last four, especially because it’s a new thing right now. I don’t think I’m running short on adrenalin.”
The Braves (42-29) are in first place in the National League East. They have won two in a row and six of their past eight after defeating the San Diego Padres 4-1 Sunday.
The Blue Jays (33-38) have won three in a row and seven of their past 10 games after completing a three-game sweep Sunday with an 8-6 win over the Washington Nationals, who are second in the NL East.
The Blue Jays have won seven straight home games for the first time since July 2-8, 2016. After struggling at home earlier in the season, they are now 19-19 at the Rogers Centre. They are 6-2 against the NL this season.
Toronto right fielder Randal Grichuk, an early-season disappointment who also spent time on the disabled list with a right knee sprain, had two solo home runs and four RBIs Sunday in going 3-for-3 with a walk. He has hit five homers in his past 12 games.
“I feel like we’ve found a lot of consistency when we’ve been playing here lately,” Grichuk said of the Blue Jays’ recent success at home. “Obviously that (0-3) Tampa Bay series (against the Rays at Tropicana Field) threw a wrench at us, but I feel like we’re swinging the bat well, and when our pitchers go out and give us a chance to win, we’ve been doing a good job of being able to score and get some leads. Hopefully that just continues.”
Another early-season disappointment, Toronto second baseman Devon Travis was 2-for-4 with a double Sunday and is batting .345 (20-for-58) with three homers and eight RBIs in his past 19 games.
The timing of a possible return from the disabled list of third baseman Josh Donaldson (tight left calf) is not known yet.
The Braves, meanwhile, will have catcher Kurt Suzuki available for the game Tuesday. He was struck in the head on a backswing during the second inning Sunday at SunTrust Park and left the game. Tests indicated that he did not have a concussion.
“It was kind of a precautionary thing,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “He got hit good. The doctors wanted to look at him and I’m sure he wanted to come back out. But something like that is not something you want to mess with.”