Despite a flurry of offense in the late innings, the Atlanta Braves dropped the series opener against the San Diego Padres on Monday night by a final score of 7-6.
It was a fairly maddening evening for Braves fans, as everything that could go wrong seemed to do so, but in the end, the final result was simply a one-run loss. Julio Teheran fell back to Earth in a big way, allowing 5 earned runs over 6 innings while striking out only 3 batters, but it was the long ball that was particularly disturbing. Teheran allowed home runs to both Logan Forsythe (a solo shot) and Will Venable (a game-changing 3-run blast), and suddenly, the game was out-of-reach with a 5-0 score.
However, not every mark against Teheran was self-inflicted, as his first-inning run allowed (on a Chase Headley RBI groundout) was a product of an “interesting” route taken by BJ Upton on Alexi Amarista’s triple. Unfortunately for the Braves, this wasn’t the first time that the team shot itself in the foot, as later in the night, Dan Uggla was doubled off on the basepaths, and Fredi Gonzalez inexplicably used Cory Gearrin against a barrage of left-handed bats that saw him give up 2 runs in 2 innings.
There were some positives on the night, and the biggest of those was the emergence of power from the bat of Jason Heyward. Heyward blasted two home runs in his final two plate appearances, and it was the first display of real power from him in some time. Neither of the home runs was of the “cheap” variety, and seeing the vintage power that Heyward displayed earlier in his career was incredibly encouraging.
In addition to Heyward’s barrage, Evan Gattis absolutely destroyed a baseball in the 9th inning for a 3-run home run, and it looked for a brief minute as if the Braves were on the comeback trail. This made the decision to leave Cory Gearrin in any against lefties even larger, as the two insurance runs proved to be the difference after Justin Upton struck out to end the game with a whimper.
It wasn’t all pretty for the offense, however, as former Brave Jason Marquis tortured the lineup for the better part of his 7.2 innings. Marquis’ arsenal wasn’t impressive (it never is), but he somehow managed to avoid disaster despite 5 walks as a result of some untimely hitting from the Braves and the aforementioned inexplicable base-running mistake from Uggla. It certainly isn’t desirable for this potent lineup to scratch only 2 runs against an openly-struggling Marquis, but these things happen throughout the course of the season, and no panic should be taken away from that portion of the night.
Overall, it wasn’t a disastrous evening for the Braves, but it certainly wasn’t overly encouraging. Teheran wasn’t terrible during his outing, but his command wasn’t sparkling, and the home runs that he allowed to Forsythe (in his first MLB appearance of the year) and Venable left visions of his early-career gopherball tendencies. It seems as if the Atlanta bats are projected for a wake-up call every night in this space (I am guilty of this), but with 5 runs in the final two innings, the same could be said after Monday’s action.
Stay tuned as these two teams square off for Game #2 in the 3-game set on Tuesday, as Tim Hudson and Andrew Cashner do battle at 10:10 PM ET.