MIAMI — The Atlanta Braves have a chance to head to the MLB All-Star break with their record above .500 for the first time all season, thanks to their 5-4 win over the Miami Marlins on Saturday.
That wasn't the focal point after the victory that got them to 44-44 overall with a chance to finish a sweep of the three-game series Sunday in Miami.
Braves star Ronald Acuña Jr. was carted off the field in tears with a right knee injury during the fifth inning, and after the game Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said the 23-year-old right fielder was being evaluated Saturday night. The team hoped to know more about his status by Sunday morning.
"He's in a lot of pain, I can tell you that. It's a tough break for the team and for him," Snitker said.
Acuña landed awkwardly on his right leg after jumping on the warning track in right to try to catch a drive from Jazz Chisholm Jr. with one out in the bottom of the fifth. He slammed into the outfield wall and crumbled on the track, immediately grabbing his right knee while Chisholm sprinted out an inside-the-park homer.
Acuña tried to walk off but dropped back to the ground in shallow right. A trainer tended to him while a cart was retrieved, and concerned teammates gathered quietly around him.
Tears welled in Acuña's eyes as he waited. When the cart pulled around to the nearby warning track, he had to be helped over and did not put any weight on his right leg.
Snitker didn't want to think about a worse-case scenario, preferring to let the examination continue until something definitive is known.
"Hopefully the results are the most positive thing we can have," he said of the imminent tests. "Lord knows what's going on in a (young player's) head when he's hurting like that. We just have to hope for the most positive of results."
Atlanta starter Max Fried gave up three straight hits but settled down to retire the side with two strikeouts after the injury.
"You never like to see one of your teammates come up injured after trying to make a great play," Fried said. "It's obviously very unfortunate, but you have to stay with the task at hand and finish the game."
Chisholm at first thought Acuña was going to make the catch and didn't realize the severity of the injury until after he crossed home plate.
"A guy like that, him getting injured, the baseball world is going to miss him if he's out for a long time," Chisholm said. "Hopefully he gets better."
Acuña is slated to start in the outfield for the National League in Tuesday's MLB All-Star Game, his third appearance in the Midsumer Classic. He is hitting .283 with 24 home runs and 52 RBIs this year for the three-time reigning NL East Division champions, who are in second place behind the New York Mets.
Freddie Freeman had a two-run homer and an RBI single, and Dansby Swanson and Austin Riley ripped doubles as the first three Braves up to bat reached base off All-Star pitcher Trevor Rogers (7-6) in the fourth inning. Atlanta has won three straight against Miami overall.
Acuña doubled in the top of the fifth and scored on Freeman's shot over the right-field wall.
Fried (6-5), who went five innings with five strikeouts while surrendering nine hits, had to compose himself quickly after the injury.
"I was just trying to find my rhythm again; it was huge being able to get those last two strikeouts," Fried said, adding that the injury was "tough, but you have to get your focus back."
Rogers lasted four innings and gave up three runs (two earned) while striking out four batters and walking two.
His own miscue led to an unearned run in the third. After walking Jonathan Lucroy, the left-hander threw wildly past first baseman Jesus Aguilar. Lucroy later raced home from second on Freeman's single.
Prior to leaving the game in the fifth with mild soreness in his rib muscles, Adam Duvall continued to be a nemesis to his former team. The Miami slugger lined a two-out double in the first inning and had a two-run single in the third.
The Marlins loaded the bases with one out after Acuña's injury, but Fried struck out Jon Berti and Jorge Alfaro to maintain Atlanta's two-run advantage. Miami left runners on second and third in the first inning, too.
Chisholm's RBI single accounted for the Marlins' final run in the ninth.
On Sunday afternoon, right-hander Ian Anderson (5-4, 3.27 ERA) will start on the mound for the Braves, while the Marlins will counter with righty Pablo López (4-5, 2.94).