On Thursday night, Jason Heyward limped off of the field with a strained right hamstring, and while that was disastrous enough for the Braves’ lineup, the team could not have been prepared for the additional injury damage from Friday night.
BJ Upton went down in a heap in center field while attempting to make a catch in the 1st inning, and was later diagnosed with a right adductor muscle strain after leaving the game immediately. Later in the night, Justin Upton tried to beat out a 7th-inning groundout and came up limping with what looks like a left calf strain. After both injuries, the Braves ended up with the (highly) unlikely outfield trio of Joey Terdoslavich, Tyler Pastornicky (making his MLB debut in CF), and Reed Johnson to end the night.
Oh, and the Atlanta Braves also lost Friday night’s game by a 4-2 score to the Reds.
On the field, Kris Medlen struggled mightily in the 1st inning, and that virtually became the difference in the game. Medlen allowed 3 runs in the 1st frame, and made it through only 4 innings while allowing 9 hits, 4 ER, and 1 walk. He had a difficult time locating pitches from the very beginning of the night, and someone with Medlen’s pure “stuff” can’t afford that luxury. He did settle down a bit after the 1st-inning fireworks, but frankly, he didn’t look comfortable at any point during the night.
The lone bright spot on the mound for Atlanta was the performance of Alex Wood. Wood replaced Medlen after 3 batters in the 5th inning, and he promptly retired the first 10 batters he faced in route to 3.2 scoreless innings. He exited immediately after issuing a walk in the 8th, but Wood was tremendous, keeping the Braves within striking distance in a game that could have gotten out of hand.
Offensively, it was a struggle for the most part. The lone blemish on the record of Cincinnati starter Bronson Arroyo was a 7th-inning home run by Brian McCann, but other than that, he was dominant. Arroyo shut down the Braves to the tune of 7 innings of 3-hit ball, and the offense never awakened outside of that one McCann swing. Of the 3 hits against Arroyo, only the McCann blast was significant, and one of the 3 hits came from the always fun switch-hitting of Kris Medlen. The Braves put together some fireworks against Aroldis Chapman thanks to a 2-out walk by Pastornicky and an RBI single from Freddie Freeman, but Chapman set down McCann harmlessly on a soft line-out to end the game.
On the whole, this game will likely be remembered more for the injury issues than the actual result. Losing to Cincinnati isn’t a crime in a 1-game sample, and Arroyo had it going in a way that he rarely does for the Reds. The Braves will have some interesting decisions to make in the next 12-16 hours, as these teams square off for a 4:05 first pitch on Saturday. It remains to be seen how long the Upton brothers will be out for, but visually, I can’t imagine BJ Upton playing tomorrow, and Justin’s pronounced limp wasn’t encouraging, either.
Stay tuned for any roster moves as they happen (Jose Constanza, anyone!?) prior to Saturday’s game.