OAKLAND, Calif. — Atlanta Braves right-hander Michael Soroka tossed six innings in his long-awaited return to the majors Monday night, pitching for the first time since twice tearing his right Achilles tendon.
He was called up from Triple-A Gwinnett to start against the Oakland Athletics on Memorial Day — a whopping 1,030 days between outings for the Braves’ 2020 Opening Day starter. Soroka allowed four runs on five hits, struck out three and walked two. He left trailing 4-1.
The 25-year-old pitcher received cheers from Braves fans as he ran out to the mound for the bottom of the first to make his first big league appearance since Aug. 3, 2020, then calmly retired the side in order on 13 pitches. Left fielder Eddie Rosario made a leaping catch at the wall to start the second, robbing Aledmys Díaz of a home run as Soroka watched in delight.
“Let’s go, Michael!” one fan yelled.
Soroka didn’t allow a hit until Jonah Bride’s one-out single in the third but quickly loaded the bases with another single and a hit batter. He emerged unscathed after inducing Seth Brown‘s inning-ending double play.
Sean Murphy had staked Soroka to a 1-0 lead with an RBI single in the first against his former team.
Soroka went 13-4 with a 2.68 ERA in 2019 to finish second in NL Rookie of the Year voting and sixth for the Cy Young Award. He first tore his Achilles on Aug. 3, 2020, and then had more hard luck. A setback led to a follow-up surgery, then he tore the same Achilles again while rehabbing midway through the 2021 season.
This spring, Soroka had another complication in his comeback because of a hamstring injury.