Braves overcome bullpen failures to beat Cubs

dkb180921004 braves vs phillies

The Braves broke out their new lineup for left-handed starters against Cub’s ace Jon Lester. Ozzie Albies moved up to the top of the order, and Johan Camargo made his first career start in the outfield. Ronald Acuña slid over to center, while Ender Inciarte came off the bench.

Julio Teheran received the ball for the Braves. He last struck out seven, allowing three runs in five innings on Opening Day in Philadelphia. His performance that afternoon was much better than the stat line, showing increased velocity with plenty of movement on his fastball and slider. Wednesday night was similar, except he was able to avoid the long ball.

Teheran only ran into trouble once. He gave up an RBI single to the pitcher of all people in the second inning putting Chicago up 1-0. The Braves would answer in the third inning.

Dansby Swanson hit another opposite-field no-doubter to tie the game. It’s his second home-run of the season after hitting two home runs late in spring training. His power looks sustainable as he recovers from a wrist injury that hampered him all of 2018. Two batters later, Ozzie Albies gave Atlanta their first lead with another opposite-field shot over the right-field wall.

The experiment to bat Ozzie in the leadoff spot paid off in its first attempt. The All-Star second baseman went 3-4 with a walk, improving on his stellar beginning to the season.

If Teheran had one flaw, it was his control. He walked three and fell behind in a few too many counts, causing his pitch count to rise. After striking out the side in the fifth inning, Brian Snitker opted to pull Teheran to begin the sixth even though he was cruising and had only thrown 91 pitches. Snitker wanted to play the matchups rather than pushing his veteran starter early in the season. It’s sensible reasoning on April 3rd, but a decision that nearly haunted the Braves.

Venters came in and did what the Braves’ bullpen has become known for – walks. Kyle Schwarber took his free-base, and Willson Contreras made Venters pay two pitches later with a towering 452-foot moonshot to straightaway center. Venters faced three more batters, recording one out and leaving runners at the corners for Wes Parsons. Luckily, the undrafted free agent rookie was reliable again in relief, forcing Ben Zobrist to fly out to left and striking out Kris Bryant without allowing a run.

The Cubs would add a run in the 7th on a Jesse Biddle wild pitch, but this game would be decided in the bottom of the eighth when the Chicago bullpen forgot how to throw a strike. Steve Cishek walked Freeman, Acuña, and Markakis to load the bases with nobody out, giving Johan Camargo the opportunity to be the difference maker in his first start of the season. After a brief break for a pitching change, Camargo gave the Braves a lead with a three-run double to the right-center field gap off Randy Rosario. Dansby Swanson would drive in Camargo on a sacrifice fly giving Arodys Vizcaino a run to play with in the ninth inning.

That’s important when facing the heart of the Cubs lineup (Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Baez). However, Viz was unnerved. Aside from a well-earned walk from Anthony Rizzo with one-out, he struck out Javier Baez and Kyle Shwarber to earn his first save of the season in the Braves’ second win on the year. After looking hopeless in Philadelphia, Atlanta moves to 2-3 on the year, and the world feels right after a comeback victory reminiscent of their magical 2018 season.

And if you noticed, the Braves scored 6 runs. #6 is the number of the legendary Braves’ coach, Bobby Cox, who suffered a stroke yesterday and is recovering in the hospital. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. Prayers up, Bobby!

Ozzie’s Chain T-Shirt

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