WASHINGTON – The Braves may not have the next Shohei Ohtani on their hands, but for one night, Huascar Ynoa outdid even the majors' most potent two-way threat.
Ynoa hit a grand slam and pitched seven stress-free innings, leading Atlanta to a 6-1 victory over the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night.
“Truth be told, I've put a lot of work into my hitting,” Ynoa said through a translator. "I don't go into any of these at-bats trying to hit a home run.
“All I'm trying to do is really get a hit and get on base, and let the actual hitters do most of the damage.”
Ynoa looked the part of an actual hitter in all three of his at-bats. The muscular 22-year-old put the ball in play twice against Nationals starter Joe Ross, forcing Ross to throw 11 pitches.
Then in the sixth inning, Ynoa blasted a fastball from reliever Tanner Rainey 427 feet to center field, extending his left arm on the follow-through like a polished slugger, to give Atlanta a 6-0 lead.
It was the first grand slam by a major league pitcher since Cincinnati's Anthony DeSclafani on June 23, 2018, and Ynoa became the first pitcher in Braves history to homer in consecutive starts. He is hitting .385 (5 for 13) this season, but that doesn't mean he'll be batting higher in the lineup or start at designated hitter anytime soon.
“It's kind of a small sample size,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “He's got to learn how to really hit breaking balls. I doubt he'll see many fastballs going forward.”