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Austin Riley goes deep twice in Braves 7-7 tie with Rays

Austin Riley goes deep twice in Braves 7-7 tie with Rays

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

-Clint Manry

Today’s Braves/Rays spring game was not only the first telecast with the Bally Sports South crew, but it was also a matchup in which both teams put out their regulars in the starting lineup. Just check out this beautiful Atlanta starting batting order…

1 – Eddie Rosario (RF)

2 – Ozzie Albies (2B)

3 – Matt Olson (1B)

4 – Marcell Ozuna (LF)

5 – Austin Riley (3B)

6 – Adam Duvall (CF)

7 – Dansby Swanson (SS)

8 – Carlos Pina (C)

9 – Kyle Wright (P)

Today’s game featured plenty of offense too. The Braves got things going in the second inning when Austin Riley belted a first-pitch solo-home run to lead off the frame…

Two batters later, following a strikeout by Adam Duvall, Dansby Swanson made it 2-0 with yet another solo-homer – giving Atlanta two bombs for the inning…

Both teams traded zeroes in the third and fourth innings, but in the fifth the Atlanta offense struck again when Marcell Ozuna slapped a two-out single and Riley launched his second long ball of the game. Just like that, it was a 4-0 lead for the Braves…

Like the third and fourth, both the sixth and seventh innings were quiet as neither team was able to muster a run. However, in the top of the eighth, the Rays finally got on the board as recently-acquired Braves pitcher Brandon Brennan got rocked a bit. First it was Tampa Bays’ Evan Edwards, who singled, then Niko Hulsizer walked. Two batters later Joe Hudson belted a line drive single to score both Edwards and Hulsizer, cutting Atlanta’s lead to just two. Brennan still couldn’t catch a break, though, for following Hudson’s two-run base-hit, the Braves pitcher walked Kameron Misner and surrendered a single to Tristan Gray. Following a mound visit and pitching change, with Atlanta’s Tyler Ferguson coming in to try and get out the jam, the Rays added yet another run when Miles Mastrobuoni popped up a sac-fly, scoring Hudson. The Braves went into the its half of the eighth leading 4-3.

Atlanta’s offense answered in the bottom of the eighth. Following a walk by Yariel Gonzalez, and a double by Jacob Pearson, prospect Braden Shewmake scored Gonzalez with a sac-fly, extending the Braves lead to 5-3. However, the Rays pushed across four runs in the ninth to take a 7-5 lead late, thanks to a triple by Hulsizer, an RBI single by Hudson, a base-hit by Misner, an RBI single by Gray and a two-run double off the bat of Mastrobuoni — all coming against Braves pitcher Nick Vincent.

Although, with much of the Braves B team in the game at this point, the Atlanta offense managed to come back. With one out, prospect Jesse Franklin V slapped a single, prospect Vaughn Grissom doubled, and a groundout by Greyson Jenista scored Franklin, cutting Tampa Bays lead to one. Then a batter later Trey Harris popped up a perfectly-placed fly ball that fell in no-man’s land in shallow left to score Grissom. Tied ball game. The Braves threatened to walk it off when Gonzalez singled with two outs, but a batter later Pearson popped out to third to end the game at a 7-7 tie.

I didn’t get to see the whole game and I missed a good bit of Kyle Wright’s start today. But it looks like Wright was solid as he struck out two in three innings of work, allowing three hits and walk. Given how well he performed in the postseason last year, and the fact that he was pretty dominant in Triple-A as well, I expect the Braves to give him a rather long look this spring. Wright has a solid chance at cracking the rotation this spring, which would be great considering how long we’ve waited for him to put it all together.

Along with Wright, and the two homers by Riley today, I’m also really impressed with prospect Vaughn Grissom, who just continues to hit this spring. The 21-year-old is now 4 for 8 so far in camp, and though he hasn’t had a ton of opportunities, he’s delivered consistently against some pretty tough major league pitching. His 2022 will be huge, and I can’t wait to watch him in High-A Rome and (likely) Double-A Mississippi.

For as great as the Braves pitching has been so far this spring, it knocked around a bit on Wednesday. Following Wright’s shutout start, and four combined scoreless frames from Darren O’Day, Sean Newcomb and A.J. Minter, Brennan allowed three runs and Vincent surrendered four, giving the team seven earned runs from 14 hits on the day, on top of six walks. The pitchers aren’t going to have it everyday, but that particular group pretty much cost Atlanta the game today, spoiling a 4-0 lead through seven innings.

The Braves will travel to Dunedin to take on the Blue Jays tomorrow, with first pitch set for 12:07 PM (CT). Bally Sports won’t be televising the game, but per MLB.com the matchup should be available on MLB.tv.

On Thursday, the Braves will go with Ian Anderson as he’ll look to get in some work for the first time this spring. Toronto will go with former Brave Kevin Gausman.

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