Monday, December 11, 2023
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Ronald Acuña Jr. becomes first 70-40 player in MLB history as Braves knock Cubs out of playoff position in NL

Atlanta Braves superstar and National League MVP frontrunner Ronald Acuña Jr. made history on Wednesday night during his club’s 6-5 extra-innings victory over the visiting Cubs. Acuña, in the 10th inning, swiped his 70th bag of 2023, making him the first player in Major League Baseball history to hit 40 or more home runs and steal 70 or more bases in the same season. 

Here’s a look at the historic theft: 

Acuña set the stage for stolen base No. 70 with a clutch RBI single that tied the game in the 10th inning. On the very next pitch, Acuña turned on the wheels and put himself in scoring position as the potential winning run. Soon after, Ozzie Albies brought him home with the walk-off: 

Earlier in the game, Acuña notched his 69th steal of the season. After a 2-for-5 night as the Braves’ leadoff hitter, Acuña is now slashing .336/.414/.596 on the year with 41 homers and, as noted, 70 stolen bases. 

As for his Braves, they’ve now notched 102 wins on the season, and Wednesday’s victory also means they have home-field advantage throughout the NL bracket. 

On the Cubs’ side of things, Wednesday occasioned another brutal loss in Atlanta. In the series opener on Tuesday, Chicago blew a six-run lead and eventually lost on an outfield misplay. In this one, they held a 4-3 lead with one out in the bottom of the ninth. At that point, however, Marcell Ozuna ambushed a 3-0 fastball from Mark Leiter Jr. and tied it up: 

The Cubs were able to plate the automatic runner in the top of the 10th, but as detailed above, the Braves scored a pair to win it in the home half. 

All of that brings us to this bit of Cubs’ misfortune: 

Meantime, the Miami Marlins split a Wednesday doubleheader with the Mets, and that, coupled with the Cubs’ loss, means a tie in the standings between those two teams for the third and final NL wild-card spot. However, the Marlins won the head-to-head season series against the Cubs, which means they hold the tiebreaker. That means the Marlins are in playoff position, and the Cubs are now out with four games remaining in the regular season. Miami’s 4-2 win in the nightcap ensured their first full winning season since 2009. 

As for the remaining games, the Cubs will conclude their series in Atlanta on Thursday and end the regular season with a three-game road series against the Brewers. The Marlins wrap up with the Mets on Thursday and then visit the Pirates for their last three games of the regular season. Given the Marlins’ edge over the Cubs in the tiebreaker, Miami controls its destiny the rest of the way.



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