Braves Two-Game Winning Streak Comes With Setback

Center fielder Michael Harris II exited Friday’s game with a left hamstring injury.
Atlanta Braves center fielder Michael Harris II
Atlanta Braves center fielder Michael Harris II / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
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After scoring 13 runs in the past two contests, both wins, the Atlanta Braves offense appears on its way to getting back on track. But the Braves will have to continue hitting without one of their new leadoff men – Michael Harris II.

The center fielder exited Friday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays with a strained left hamstring during the first inning. The Athletic’s David O’Brien reported Harris will go on the 15-day injured list.

“It’s tough,” third baseman Austin Riley said, via O’Brien. “What he does out there in center, and obviously in our lineup, you hate that. You really do. Seems like we’ve been kind of snakebit on injuries this year, but it’s got to be that next guy up mentality.”

Harris was actually already an example of the “next man up” mentality. Right fielder Ronald Acuña is typically Atlanta’s leadoff man, but Acuña suffered a season-ending ACL injury on May 26.

In 17 games since then, Harris has led off 11 times in the Braves lineup. He’s predominantly been leading off when the opposition starts a right-handed pitcher.

Harris has performed better batting later in the lineup this season, but on Friday, he singled to start the bottom of the first. His hit began a 5-run rally which gave the Braves a 5-1 lead.

Harris suffered his hamstring injury while running first to third on second baseman Ozzie Albies’ double during the second at-bat of the inning.

In the leadoff spot, Harris is batting .205 with 3 extra-base hits and a .576 OPS in 12 games this season. Harris is slashing .250/.250/.417 when leading off a game this year.

The 23-year-old is also batting .250 overall with 16 extra-base hits, including 5 home runs in 67 games during 2024. He’s recorded 30 runs and 20 RBI as well.

Veteran J.P. Martinez replaced Harris on Friday. Without Harris, the Braves will be missing two of their opening day starting outfielders for at least the next 15 days.

Albies, who has mostly been leading off versus left-handed pitching since Acuña’s injury, will likely bat first until Harris returns.

Dave Holcomb