Julio Teheran may have magic powers. I’m not sure if he’s a pitching wizard, but he had Chicago Cubs hitters spellbound in Game 1 of the series on Friday. Teheran needed only 105 pitches across 8 innings, striking out 9 hitters, and giving up just 1 hit. That one hit happened to be a long ball that gave the Cubs the early 1-0 lead, but the Atlanta Braves offense was able to cover up that error.
The Braves plated 2 runs early in the game, so it wasn’t the huge offensive outburst many fans hoped for against the lackluster Cubbies. However, any game where the Braves take a lead against their opponent is cause for celebration, given the 8 of 9 losing streak. Chris Johnson was the early hero again for the Braves, slashing a hit in the 3rd through the third base side to score Freeman and Gattis. If you remember, Johnson was the reason the Braves won the game they did against the Giants. He’s been one of the few Braves hitters that remembers he’s holding a bat when a runner touches second base.
Kimbrel came on in the 9th inning to relieve Teheran. Unfortunately, Craig wasn’t as sharp tonight. He gave up a leadoff single to the Cubs to start the inning, then the runner move to second on a grounder. That’s when Ryan Kalish hit a hard grounder through the left side, and Justin booted the ball allowing the runner to score. Craig was obviously rattled, but he settled down long enough to get through the rest of the inning with the game tied. The huge downside to that run is it ruined Julio’s chance at the win. He worked 8 innings and got the no-decision for his effort.
Suddenly, the game was back in the hands of the Braves offense. Right now, nobody in Braves Country would trust the Braves offense to walk their dog, let alone salvage a game late. Still, the Cubs are the Cubs, and they lose games because they make stupid errors. First, they walked Jason Heyward. Then, when they had Jason picked off, they let him scamper to second and end up safe. As if to double down on the stupid, they intentionally walked Justin Upton to get to Freddie Freeman. In fact, Freddie wrote a book on this subject. It’s titled, “Lefty-lefty matchups don’t matter because I’m the best hitter on the team, idiots.” Of course Freddie roped the first pitch into center, Heyward scored, and the Braves won in walk-off fashion.
The Braves had 9 hits on the night compared to just 4 for the visiting Cubs. It was a matter of time before they pushed some runs across, and RISP fans everywhere will be excited they went 3-5 in those situations. Still, the Braves stranded 9 runners so it wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops. Freddie Freeman gets the MVP of the game for his 3-for-4 night, including the walk-off winner.
The Braves take game one and hope to continue that momentum on Saturday when Ervin Santana faces Jeff Samardzija. It’s another great pitching matchup where runs will be at a premium.