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Red-hot Ronald Acuna questionable as Atlanta Braves await Colorado Rockies

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Atlanta Braves slugger Ronald Acuna Jr. begins his home run trot, hitting a two run home run in the second inning against the St. Louis Cardinals on June 30 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI

By Stan Awtrey, The Sports Xchange

The Colorado Rockies may not have to immediately worry about how to handle one of the National League's hottest hitters when they come to Atlanta for a four-game series that starts Thursday.

The status of Braves rookie Ronald Acuna Jr. isn't expected to be determined until closer to game time after he was hit by a pitch on the forearm above his left elbow and had to subsequently leave Wednesday's game.

Acuna had homered in five consecutive games, the last three to lead off the contest, when he was nailed by Miami starter Jose Urena on the first pitch of Wednesday's series finale.

[post_ads]After a pair of bench-clearing situations, the umpires decided to eject Urena. But that didn't help Acuna, who ran the bases and tried the play the outfield before leaving the game in pain in the top of the second.

"It's a shame," Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. "He's sore. His forearm, where he got hit, was cramping. They're checking him out. We'll know tomorrow."

Acuna had been one of the hottest players in the league. He had hit and scored in eight straight games, going 16-for-34 (.471) with a 1.749 OPS over that stretch that began Aug. 8. Since moving to the leadoff spot in the first game after the All-Star Game, Acuna is hitting .358 with 12 homers, 25 runs scored, 24 RBIs and an .821 slugging percentage.

"It was obvious that pitch was intended to hit him," Snitker said. "There's no reason for a young man to be hit like that when all he was doing is playing the game."

Nearly as hot for the Rockies is shortstop Trevor Story, who is batting .331 (82- for-247) since June 1. He leads the National League in total bases (250) and is among the league leaders in extra-base hits (63), doubles (33), RBIs (83) and home runs (25). Story has a 12-game hitting streak.

The Rockies also expect Nolan Arenado to return to third base. He has rested his sore right shoulder the last two days in Houston, where he was the designated hitter. Arenado, who hit his 30th homer on Wednesday, is eager to get back on the field.

"I should be back in there tomorrow unless I wake up really sore," he said Wednesday.

The Braves (68-51) are 17 games over .500 for the first time this season and have won five straight games. Colorado (64-56) saw its four-game winning streak end in a 12-1 loss to Houston on Wednesday.

The pitching matchup for the series opener features Atlanta right-hander Julio Teheran (8-7, 4.33 ERA) against Colorado right-hander Jon Gray (9-7, 4.81). The Braves won two of three from Colorado when the clubs met in Denver in early April.
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Teheren is coming off a solid six-inning start against the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday, when he allowed one run on two hits. He has allowed three or fewer runs in his last three starts.

In nine career starts against the Rockies, Teheran is 5-1 with a 2.31 ERA. He was 1-0 with a 1.26 ERA in two starts against Colorado last year. He did not pitch against the Rockies when the clubs met for three games in April.

Gray will be making his 23rd start of the season and is facing the Braves for the first time in 2018. The Rockies have won each of his last seven starts, during which time he's gone 3-0 with a 2.91 ERA. Since being recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque on July 14, Gray is 2-0 with a 2.29 in five starts.

Gray is 3-0 with a 1.04 ERA in four career starts against the Braves. He has not allowed a run against Atlanta in his last two starts.

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Sports - U.S. Daily News: Red-hot Ronald Acuna questionable as Atlanta Braves await Colorado Rockies
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