Tuesday, March 29, 2022
We’ve watched it for ourselves. The Braves have played well so far this spring. Through its first eight spring games, Atlanta enters its off day on Tuesday with a 6-2 record, thanks to some of the best starting pitching by any team in camp. In fact, Braves starters this spring (counting yesterday’s start) have collectively pitched to a 0.96 ERA in ten outings overall — by far the lowest ERA in MLB (the Padres rank second with a 2.48 ERA). And on Monday, prospect Spencer Strider added to that perfection, keeping an impressive streak going by becoming the sixth consecutive Atlanta starter this spring to work a scoreless outing. Here’s the streak, going back exactly a week ago…
Strider – 2 1/3 scoreless innings
Charlie Morton – 4 2/3 scoreless innings
Tucker Davidson – 3 scoreless innings
Ian Anderson – 3 scoreless innings
Kyle Wright – 3 scoreless innings
Max Fried – 3 scoreless innings
On Monday, against the Blue Jays, Strider worked through a 1-2-3 inning in the first, pitched around a lead-off walk in the second and managed to get out of the third basically unscathed. Manager Brian Snitker obviously had a pretty short leash on the kid, for Strider didn’t seem to be tiring, even following a second walk in that third inning, to go with a wild pitch. As reliever Tyler Thornburg came in for Strider, the Braves led 1-0 (thanks to an RBI single by Adam Duvall back in the second).
That 1-0 lead turned into a 3-0 advantage in the fifth, though, when catcher-turned-outfielder William Contreras belted an absolute no-doubter for a solo-homer, and then two batters later Ozzie Albies did the same…
Atlanta’s offense scored another pair of runs in the sixth too. Alex Dickerson slapped a two-out double and scored when Duvall knocked him in with his own two-bagger. Then, a batter later, following a pitching change by Toronto, Orlando Arcia knocked in Duvall with an RBI single to right, extending the Braves lead to a comfy 5-0.
That five-run lead became threatened in the seventh, though, as newly-signed closer Kenley Jansen got roughed up a bit. Jansen began the frame by allowing the first three Blue Jays batters to reach base, with Greg Bird pushing across a run with an RBI single. Then a few batters later, Steward Berroa knocked in another when he grounded out to short. Those two earned runs ended Jansen’s day, and with two outs Tyler Ferguson took the mound. However, Ferguson hit the very first batter he faced, and the second (Kellin Deglan) pushed across another run with a ground-ball single to center. The Braves lead had been cut to just two.
M-Braves starter-turned reliever from last seaon, Odalvi Javier, came on to work the eighth. Javier walked the first batter but then induced a double-play to quickly get two outs. However, Samad Taylor made it one-run game when he slugged a solo home run to left. Javier settled back down and retired the next batter with a strikeout, though, and got himself out of the inning.
Minor leaguer Conner Johnstone pitched the final frame, working around a two-out walk by getting Tyler Heineman to fly out to right field to end the game. Braves win.
The Braves finally get a day off today, after playing eight-straight games so far this spring. Atlanta will pick back up on Wednesday, with a matchup versus Boston at 12:05 PM (CT). It looks like Anderson will start tomorrow’s contest, though the Red Sox have yet to announce a pitcher as of this morning.
In other news, on Monday morning the Braves optioned reliever Jacob Webb to Triple-A Gwinnett, putting team 42, in terms of players at camp right now.