Acuna, Braves look to inflict more early damage on Giants

The Atlanta Braves continue to reap the benefits of moving Ronald Acuna Jr. to the top of the order.

The second-year center fielder has been hot at the plate since he was moved from cleanup to the leadoff spot 10 games ago. The Braves won eight of those contests, and one of the two losses came in extra innings.

Acuna was 3-for-4 on Monday in Atlanta's 4-1 win over the Giants in the series opener at San Francisco, making him 14-for-41 (.341) with four homers and nine RBIs since switching from cleanup to leadoff in the batting order.

The Giants will try to cool down Acuna when they send rookie Shaun Anderson (0-0, 3.60 ERA) against the Braves on Tuesday in the second game of the four-game series. Atlanta will counter with veteran right-hander Julio Teheran (3-4, 3.88).

Acuna led off Monday's game with a homer, just as he did to the Milwaukee Brewers' Brandon Woodruff on Sunday. He has 10 career leadoff long balls.

When Acuna has hit in the leadoff slot in his two seasons, the Braves are 45-32, a .584 winning percentage. With him batting elsewhere in the order, Atlanta is 71-62 (.534).

"He really likes hitting there," Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. "I don't know what it is. He's a different guy there. We tried the other (hitting Acuna cleanup), and I think it probably would have worked. It's something about that (leadoff) spot that he comes to life."

For the season, Acuna is hitting .291 with 11 homers, six doubles, one triple and 31 RBIs.

"It's like he's getting that look about him when he gets on some of those runs," Snitker said.

Braves rookie outfielder Austin Riley said, "Ronnie is a lot of fun to be around. After he hit that (first-inning) home run he said, 'It's your turn now.' I said I'd try."

Riley went deep in the sixth inning.

The timely offense is good news for Teheran, who has pitched well in his past three starts. In 17 innings over three outings in May, Teheran has allowed only one run on seven hits. He has struck out 12 and walked eight while producing a 0.53 ERA.

In his latest start, on Thursday against the St. Louis Cardinals, Teheran pitched five scoreless innings and allowed two hits and four walks with four strikeouts. He also drove in two runs.

Teheran will be making his seventh career start against the Giants, looking to improve upon a 2-3 record and a 3.93 ERA. He last faced San Francisco in June 2017, when he lost a 6-3 decision, allowing four runs (three earned) in 7 1/3 innings.

Anderson will make his second career start. The 24-year-old Florida native made his major league debut last Wednesday against the visiting Toronto Blue Jays and did not receive a decision.

In five innings, Anderson allowed three runs (two earned) on two hits and three walks in a game the Giants won 4-3. He struck out five. Anderson was rated as the team's top pitching prospect and the fourth-best overall in the team's minor league system.

"He was pretty composed, which was good to see, for sure," said Aramis Garcia, who caught Anderson last week. "He's one of those guys that gets pretty amped up for his starts, but he definitely stayed under control. He looked good out there."

Anderson isn't an automatic out at the plate, either. He went 2-for-2 in his debut, becoming the first Giants pitcher to record a multi-hit game in his major league debut since 1900.

--Field Level Media

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