BRADENTON — Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Mike Soroka allowed his first run of the spring — his first three runs, actually — but was satisfied with his work against the Pittsburgh Pirates in an exhibition game Wednesday.
Soroka, who pitched two scoreless innings against the New York Yankees in his first Grapefruit League outing Feb. 28, gave up three runs on three hits in 2-2/3 innings against the Pirates. He walked two (on close ball-four calls), struck out two, induced two double-play ground balls and surrendered a two-run homer to Cole Tucker.
“I felt like I pitched better (Wednesday) than I did against the Yankees,” Soroka said. “Everything was a lot crisper. I had a few put-away pitches that I missed, but that’s something that we’ll work on and get it to a point where I don’t miss.”
“The ball is coming out of his hand really good,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “He feels great, and that’s the big thing.”
The Pirates started a lineup with eight left-handed hitters, including switch-hitters, against the right-handed Soroka.
“You know that’s how they’re going to play it, especially given some of the splits last year,” said Soroka, referring to left-handed hitters’ .282 batting average and .750 OPS against him (compared to right-handed hitters’ .203 batting average and .537 OPS against him).
“I’m glad they did that,” Soroka said of the Pirates’ lefty-laden lineup, “because a lot of what we’re working on right now is to lefties.”
Other notes from the game, which the Braves won 9-7 with three runs in the ninth:
Outfielder-first baseman Peter O’Brien, in the Braves’ camp on a minor-league contract, hit two home runs. That gives him a team-leading three homers in Grapefruit League play. O’Brien, 29, a former second-round draft pick by the Yankees, has played in 72 big-league regular-season games with Arizona (2015-16) and Miami (2018-19). “He’s got power,” Snitker said. “There’s a chance every time he goes up there for him to do something pretty big.”
Also homering for the Braves in the wind-blown game: infielder Sean Kazmar Jr. and outfielder Greyson Jenista. The homer by Jenista tied the game 7-7 in the top of the ninth. Later that inning, a two-out, two-run single by Kazmar gave the Braves the lead.