I don’t know who is or isn’t having on the Braves’ Grapefruit League roster, but Julio Teheran seems like a pretty good bet. Teheran cruised through four scoreless frames on Friday night against the Yankees, allowing just two hits and collecting two strikeouts while avoiding any free passes or other complications. That set up an eventual 3-1 victory, as Carlos Franco’s seventh inning double off of former Brave David Hale proved to be the deciding blow.
As mentioned, Teheran mostly cruised. He retired the first six batters he faced, and didn’t let a Ryan Schimpf fielding error at third base or a two-out single faze him, striking out Greg Bird to complete his third frame. He allowed a leadoff single in the fourth to Gary Sanchez, but a lineout off the bat of Michael Andujar led to Sanchez being doubled off, finishing Teheran’s night. The Braves’ likely Opening Day starter has yet to allow a run this spring, and improved his K/BB ratio, which was at 3:3 before the 2:0 effort tonight.
The Braves had similar difficulties with New York starter Sonny Gray. Ender Inciarte drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the first, but was stranded right there. The Braves didn’t get another baserunner until Inciarte walked again with two out in the third, and even though Inciarte stole second this time, Charlie Culberson struck out to end the frame. The Braves eventually saw Gray depart the game in the fourth with one on and two outs, but Schimpf struck out for a second time to end the inning.
The Braves did take the lead in the bottom of the fifth against Tommy Kahnle, who came in to relieve Gray. Christian Colon drew a leadoff walk and scored on Preston Tucker’s double. Unfortunately, the Yankees tied it right back up, as Gary Sanchez led off the top of the sixth with a line driver homer off of Arodys Vizcaino. The game stayed tied until the bottom of the seventh, when David Hale gave up the lead to his former team. Hale had come in during the sixth and stayed in for the seventh, but allowed a leadoff single to Tucker and a two-out single to Culberson before Carlos Franco hit a groundball double down the first base line. Right fielder Billy McKinney actually got two separate errors on the play, but that’s actually somewhat inconsequential given that the Yankees didn’t score again in the game anyway.
The next two innings went very quietly, as there were no baserunners after Franco’s decisive hit. In fact, after the Braves took that 3-1 lead, six of the remaining 10 batters to bat in the game struck out.
The Atlanta relief corps had a bit of a shakier time than Teheran, but got the job done. Sam Freeman came on in the fifth and worked a scoreless inning despite three walks. Luckily, he sequenced well, getting the fly out as the first out of the inning, and striking out the other two batters to prevent any damage. As mentioned, Vizcaino gave up the game-tying homer, but retired the next three batters he faced. Rule 5 selection and bullpen hopeful Anyelo Gomez walked the first two men he faced in the seventh, including former Brave Jace Peterson, but then got a fly out and struck out the next two hitters to keep the game tied. After the Braves took the lead, both Rex Brothers and Josh Graham went 1-2-3 to close out the game, collecting one and two strikeouts, respectively.
It was a quiet night on the offensive end for the Braves. Tucker and Franco led the way offensively, with Tucker collecting a single and a double, while Franco notched the game-winning hit with his two-bagger. Tyler Flowers collected two singles, while Ender Inciarte walked twice. Ryan Schimpf continued his mystifying existence, striking out twice (once looking) and walking once. Lane Adams went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and still seems to be scuffling. Nick Markakis collected another single and lowered his batting average (haha) by going 1-for-3 this spring: the Neck has eight hits, all singles, in 15 at-bats so far in Grapefruit League action.
The Braves are heading down to Bradenton tomorrow to face the Pirates. Mike Foltynewicz is slated to start the game, and it looks like it’ll be televised by a Pittsburgh crew as well, so that’s exciting.