On a night that was headlined by Chipper Jones’ jersey retirement and Hall of Fame induction, the future was certainly on full display once the Braves and Diamondbacks got underway between the lines.
Julio Teheran dominated the Arizona lineup through 6 innings, striking out 10 Diamondbacks while allowing just 4 hits and 1 walk while leading the Braves to a 3-0 victory. Teheran’s 10 strikeouts represented the 2nd-highest total of his career (he struck out 11 against the Pirates on June 5th), and while he needed 103 pitches to navigate his 6 frames, it was well worth the relative lack of economical pitching. For me, it was fantastic to see Teheran’s off-speed “stuff” take command, and he had the full arsenal working on Friday night.
To add to the greatness, Teheran’s efforts led to the first shutout of the season for the Arizona offense. This was especially significant as the D-Backs were the final team in MLB to sustain their first blank offensive card, and that tells you all you need to know about the fantastic effort from the pitching staff.
At the dish, the Braves pounded out 11 hits to grab their 3 runs. Jason Heyward, BJ Upton, and Dan Uggla had 2 hits a piece for Atlanta, and the biggest single blow of the night came on a Andrelton Simmons home run in the 5th inning. It is obviously encouraging to see that particular trio of players (Heyward/Upton/Uggla) have a big night, and the success wasn’t a fluke, as he each guy made strong contact that fell in for them.
For comedy/throwback sake, Fredi Gonzalez unleashed a Bobby Cox-style squeeze bunt to extend the lead to 3-o in the bottom of the 8th. Reed Johnson laid down a perfectly placed bunt as a pinch-hitter, and he was able to reach with a single while Uggla (who was on third after leading off the inning with a blazing triple) scored with ease. Frankly, there’s not a lot better than a well-run squeeze play.
Once Teheran left the game for Atlanta, the bullpen (Avilan, Walden, Kimbrel) slammed the door effectively, and that was that. It was almost fitting to see the Braves young stud dominate to reveal the team’s future while the team’s illustrious past was on display before the game, and the fact that Teheran dominated while squaring off with former Brave Randall Delgado made it all that much sweeter. The young right-hander seems to be making the leap before our very eyes, and with his ERA down to 3.12, the stats are confirming what we are collectively seeing.
Stay tuned as the Braves take on the Diamondbacks in Game 2 of the series on Saturday at 4:05 PM ET.