Similar to last year, the Braves fell in a deep hole on Opening Day to the Phillies’ Ace, Aaron Nola. The difference being this time Gabe Kapler did not pull Nola after 68 pitches, and the Braves were unable to claw their way back on top.
On a perfect day for baseball (60 degrees with a few scattered clouds), Julio Teheran took the mound on Opening Day for the sixth consecutive year, becoming the longest-tenured Opening Day starter in the entire league. His 2019 started much like his 2018, allowing a 428-foot missile to left-center field off the bat of the newly acquired Andrew McCutchen. However, it would not be all bad for Teheran, who settled down and retired the next nine Phillies in a row.
The Braves would tie the game in the second inning. Fittingly, Ronald Acuña scored the first run of the season, coaxing a walk with superb patience in his first at-bat. In A, B, C fashion, Acuña easily stole second, and Nick Markakis drove him in with a single through the right side.
After retiring nine in a row, Teheran ran into trouble in the fourth. Jean Segura started it off with an infield single, and Philadelphia was able to cash in two runs behind consecutive hits with two outs. That would be enough for Nola, who looked dominant following a shaky second inning. He would leave the game after six innings, striking out nine and allowing a single run.
Teheran gave up three runs in five innings while striking out eight. Although, it could have looked a lot better had a few things gone his way. His velocity was up, and the stuff looked considerably more effective than it did in many outings last year. At the very least, he kept the Braves in the game.
The same cannot be said for Atlanta’s bullpen.
Shane Carle relieved Teheran in the sixth. It only took him one batter to make all of Braves Country question the front office’s decision not to add to the bullpen. Carle walked the first person he faced, walked another, and with two outs, hung a fastball to Maikel Franco that went a long way.
That was the story for both of the bullpens. The Braves added two more in the bottom of the sixth on a Matt Joyce home-run in his first at-bat as a Brave – more than Adam Duvall had in his short-lived Atlanta career. But if there were any hope Joyce’s home-run would lead to a comeback, it left with the appearance of Luke Jackson in the 7th inning.
The 26-year-old right-hander, who is somehow still on the Braves’ roster, walked the first batter he faced, made an error on the second, intentionally walked Bryce Harper, and then gave up a moonshot to Rhys Hoskins for a grand slam. The Braves bullpen was a worry to begin the season, and even though it’s one game, there is plenty of reason to be concerned.
Ronald Acuña would help tack on another run in the eighth, but it would be far too little, far too late, as the Braves fell to the Phillies 10-4.
Dansby Swanson looked much-improved in spring training. That translated on Opening Day. He forced a walk in his first at-bat, doubled down the line in his third, and lined out to the pitcher in his final plate appearance.
Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto combined to go 0-6.
Ronald Acuña and Nick Markakis each picked up their first RBIs.
Max Fried pitched a clean eighth inning. The Braves plan to make him a starter, but after the way the bullpen looked today, they might need him to do the dirty work in the later innings.
In his return to Atlanta, Brian McCann went 1-3 with a single and a walk.
The Braves bullpen allowed seven earned runs in three innings pitched.