WASHINGTON (AP) – It’s true, Pablo Sandoval is 34 years old and playing his 14th season in the majors, in a career that includes two All-Star Game designations and a World Series Most Valuable Player award.
But the Venezuelan had to prove in the preseason that he even deserved a spot on the Braves payroll and a one-year, one-million-dollar contract.
It didn’t take long to pay off.
The “Kung Fu Panda” hit his second pinch homer in a week on Wednesday. His two-run cudgel sent the ball deep into the park off a reliever who took the baton after a six-inning score by Stephen Strasburg.
And Atlanta, which had not won this season, had two wins in one day. He defeated the Washington Nationals 2-0 on Wednesday night to sweep the doubleheader.
“I’m not going to lie, said Sandoval, who hit three home runs in a game for the San Francisco Giants in the 2012 Fall Classic.” It’s one of those moments when you feel butterflies in your stomach.
Atlanta started the day 0-4, but set course early, thanks to another Venezuelan. Ronald Acuña Jr. paved the way to a 7-6 victory in Game 1 with a double and a pair of singles.
Sandoval signed a minor league contract with the Braves in January and earned his spot. Now, it seems that the club made a wise decision.
“He is not going to shrink from any situation,” said manager Brian Snitker. “Not just in that role, but in the clubhouse. It’s amazing to have a guy like that with the team. “
Sandoval pinch-hitter to hit a home run in the opening game. He did the same on Wednesday.
He found a fastball from Tanner Rainey (0-1) at 96 mph with a 3-2 count. The ball traveled more than 400 feet after Swanson singled with two outs in the seventh and final inning (meetings are abbreviated this season on doubleheader).
Luke Jackson (1-0) took the win in the second game, despite issuing a pair of walks in the sixth inning.
Powered by three hits from Acuña Jr. and a save by Will Smith the day after allowing the hit that left them lying on the ground, the Braves won the first game.
But Smith, Atlanta’s fifth pitcher, suffered again. The first batter he faced on Wednesday was Juan Soto, whose RBI single in the ninth inning declared Washington a 6-5 win on Thursday.
This time, Soto opened the bottom of the seventh by managing a ticket, Starlin Castro towed him in with a double that brought Washington closer. Another walk from Smith put the winning run into circulation with one out, but Andrew Stevenson hit a game-ending double play.
The Nationals bombed Max Fried, scoring four times in the first inning – including a two-run homer by Trea Turner.
But Atlanta retorted with a five-run cluster in the second off Erick Fedde, taking a 6-5 lead.
In the first game, for the Braves, the Venezuelans Acuña 4-3, two scored and one RBI, Sandoval 1-0. The Dominican Marcell Ozuna 3-0. The Panamanian Johan Camargo 1-0.
For the Nationals, the Dominicans Soto 3-0, one scored; Victor Robles 3-1, one scored; and Castro 4-3, three RBIs. The Venezuelan Hernán Pérez 2-0.
In the second game, for the Braves, the Venezuelans Acuña 2-0, Sandoval 1-1 with one run scored and two RBIs. The Dominicans Ozuna 3-0, Cristian Pache 2-0, Huáscar Ynoa 2-0.
For the Nationals, the Dominicans Robles 1-0, Soto 2-1, Castro 3-0. The Venezuelan Hernán Pérez 3-0. The Cuban Yadiel Hernández 1-0.