Ronald Acuna

Due to their loss in Game 1 of the NLDS to the Phillies, the Braves were already playing catch-up. Atlanta looked like it could have tried to tie the series up in Game 2 without its best player for a while there.

With two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning on Wednesday night, Zack Wheeler’s fastball hit Ronald Acuna Jr. in the right elbow. He jogged toward the Braves dugout as if in extreme pain before anyone from the team came out to check on him.

As the game progressed, Acuna made his way to first base and later scored the game’s first run on an RBI single by Matt Olson. Acuna relocated to the right field to take his customary position to start the seventh inning.

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He avoided making a play and made it out of the inning safely. After that, nothing went wrong, and Atlanta tied the series with a 3-0 win.

Acuna was candid about his reasoning for deciding to keep playing when asked about it. In a roundabout way, he brought up the fact that he tore his ACL last year and missed the Braves’ championship run. Through an interpreter, he stated, “I already missed one postseason, I’m not going to miss another one.”

Braves manager Brian Snitker explained after the game how Acuna was cleared to play again in the seventh inning. What happened when he scored was the best possible outcome, according to Snitker. “When we finally got him downstairs for a quick checkup, he was already pitching inside the rib cage. His senses were returning to him, I believe, the longer he stayed.”

Acuna was finally able to return to the field at the conclusion of the sixth inning after first struggling with an elbow injury. It’s going to hurt, I’m sure,” Snitker said. “It’s probably for the best that Thursday is our day off so we can spoil him. In any case, we were relieved to find no structural issues or anything of the sort upon closer inspection.”

X-rays confirmed that the elbow had suffered no structural damage, as had been previously reported. The Braves bats were sluggish against Wheeler, but Acuna’s determination appeared to spark them. As Snitker sees it, that’s exactly the impact Acuna has on the team, especially in crucial situations.

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It’s the time of year when “he’s just kind of that electrifying guy who has that tendency for sparking things,” Snitker added. It’s great that they’re closing in behind him, you know.

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