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A’s tap 28-year-old rookie to snap skid, cool off Braves

Jun 7, 2022; Cumberland, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves outfielders Michael Harris II 
Guillermo Heredia and Ronald Acuna Jr. (left to right) react after defeating the Oakland Athletics at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland hopes to get a boost from rookie left-hander Jared Koenig, who will make his major league debut when the A’s complete their two-game road series against the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night.

The Braves won the series opener 3-2 on Tuesday for their sixth straight victory. The A’s have lost seven straight.

Against the A’s, Atlanta has won eight in a row and is 12-4 all-time.

Koenig, 28, was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas, where he was 4-2 with a 2.21 ERA in nine games (eight starts). In 53 innings, he is second in the Pacific Coast League with 61 strikeouts. He ranks second in ERA and is tied for third in wins.

Koenig played three seasons of independent ball before being signed by the A’s as a free agent before the 2020 season. He is 11-7 with a 2.94 ERA in two seasons in the minors.

“I’d say my pitching style has stayed relatively the same,” Koenig said. “I don’t throw max effort. I pound the zone as much as I can, but there’s going to be days where I can’t do that and I’m going for strikeouts.”

Koenig will face Atlanta right-hander Ian Anderson (4-3, 4.70), who will make his 11th start of the season.

Anderson broke a two-game losing streak in his last start and earned his first win in nearly a month when he beat Colorado on Thursday. Anderson pitched six innings and allowed five runs in a 13-6 win at Denver. Anderson struck out nine and walked one. He has never faced Oakland.

The A’s will need to quiet the bat of Atlanta’s Ronald Acuna Jr., who went 2-for-4 with a pair of home runs in the series opener.

Acuna hit a leadoff homer for the 24th time and produced the eighth multi-homer game of his career. Over the last 20 games, he has six doubles, four homers, 12 RBIs, 19 runs and 12 walks. He has lifted his batting average to .320.

“He’s an elite talent, a special talent,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “It’s something else when he gets on one of his streaks.”

The A’s made a couple of roster moves on Tuesday.

They reinstated catcher Stephen Vogt, who was part of Atlanta’s world championship team last year, from an ankle injury. The A’s also recalled infielder Matt Davidson from Triple-A Las Vegas and started him at third base Tuesday; he went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts. Sheldon Neuse was optioned to Las Vegas and right-hander Parker Markel was designated for assignment.

Oakland will need to make another roster move to make room for Koenig.

Atlanta had two players scratched because of minor injuries. Adam Duvall was replaced because of left-triceps cramping, and catcher Travis d’Arnaud was given the night off with a sore forearm from a hit-by-pitch on Sunday. Both should be available Wednesday.

The Braves put right-hander Collin McHugh on the injured list for COVID and re-acquired right-hander Jacob Webb from Arizona for cash. Webb was claimed off waivers by the Diamondbacks on April 19. Webb pitched six games for Triple-A Reno and had a 10.13 ERA in 5 1/3 innings.

–Field Level Media