No run support for Braves in season-opening loss

sports@macon.comMarch 31, 2014 

The Atlanta Braves opened the 2014 season on the road for the eighth time in 10 years Monday, and were shut out 2-0 by the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Braves scattered just five hits and never really threatened the Brewers. Andrelton Simmons led the Braves with two hits while Jason Heyward, Chris Johnson and Justin Upton added one apiece. The only extra-base hit came from Johnson in the sixth inning.

Starting pitcher Julio Teheran threw well enough to get a win, but got no run support from the Braves’ bats. He didn’t have his great stuff with him on Monday, but came away with a quality start and did enough right to keep a high outlook for the young pitcher for the rest of the season.

Milwaukee starter Yovani Gallardo only gave up four hits and struck out four through six innings. He befuddled Atlanta hitters and was even able to work from behind with positive results.

One Bad Inning for Teheran

Teheran started the fourth inning with a four-pitch walk to Milwaukee shortstop Jean Segura. Teheran then threw a fifth pitch out of the strike zone, finally notched a strike to right fielder Ryan Braun, and then gave up a hard-hit ball into left field.

After Braun stole second, Aramis Ramirez drove a ball to left field in the next at-bat to score both runners. Those were the only two runs Teheran gave up, and it all started on a leadoff walk. The 23-year-old Teheran also had a bit of trouble in the second inning when he had two-strike counts on all four hitters in the inning. The first two hitters got on with base hits, but Teheran benefited from a flyout to left field and a line drive to Freddie Freeman, who then doubled off Ramirez at second base.

Teheran went six innings and gave up seven hits and two runs while striking out two batters and allowing one walk. He threw 84 pitches (55 strikes and 29 balls) in the loss.

Challenge Accepted

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez loves the new replay system in Major League Baseball.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Braun hit a ground ball to third base. Johnson fielded the ball, but had trouble with the exchange and got the ball to first base late. The original call was safe, but Gonzalez trotted out to give his staff time to view the play on a replay monitor.

The new replay rules state that manager’s have one replay challenge to use. Gonzalez’ crew gave him the go-ahead and the play went under review. A grand total of 58 seconds later, the call was overturned and Braun was called out.

Slowing down the game for 58 seconds to get a call correct is exactly why this new replay system is in place. Gonzalez is now 1-0 in replays for the 2014 season.

Same ‘Ole B.J. Upton

It’s not always fair to hand out heavy criticism for anyone after the first baseball game of the season. There are still 161 games left to play, and the sample size is way too small.

But too many people remember the 2013 season where B.J. Upton hit .184 with just nine home runs and 12 stolen bases. Where Upton is concerned, forget about the new season and small sample sizes. Until change occurs, he’s going to be judged on everything that goes wrong, and no one’s going to forget about the 391 miserable at-bats he suffered through last season.

Upton didn’t do anything to help his cause in Monday’s game against the Brewers. In his first at-bat he grounded out to short after working the count to 3-0. He then struck out in the third inning, again in the fifth (after being ahead 2-0), and finally grounded out to third base in the eighth.

Help’s On Its Way

The Braves announced rehab starts for two of its starting pitchers currently on the 15-day disabled list. Mike Minor will pitch for Double-A Mississippi on Thursday while Gavin Floyd will throw for Triple-A Gwinnett on Friday.

Both pitchers expect to join the Braves’ starting rotation at the end of April.

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