With complete-game shutout, Julio Teheran learning killer instinct

May 21, 2014 

ATLANTA -- It wasn’t bringing his record to an even 3-3, lowering his ERA to an infinitesimal 1.92, or adding another win to stay a game and a half ahead of the second-place Washington Nationals in the National League East.

No, Julio Teheran’s complete-game shutout Tuesday night that led to an Atlanta Braves 5-0 win over the Milwaukee Brewers, showed that the 23-year-old hurler is turning into a shark—the underwater predator, not the teenage street gang, musical version.

“I know he had one earlier this season, but the good ones, and the horses, are able to go out there and they smell the blood in the water,” catcher Gerald Laird said about Teheran finishing the ninth inning and recording his second complete game of the season, and his career. “It’s good, especially for a young guy like him. Sometimes that’s the hardest thing to learn is how to close a game out.”

Teheran gave up four hits to the Brewers through his first eight innings, but two of the first three batters he faced in the top of the ninth singled to set up runners at the corners with just one out. If Teheran was to secure the shutout, he was likely going to have to strike out the next batter, Rickie Weeks, and convincingly sit Carlos Gomez down to end the game.

Two quick strikes to Weeks turned into a full count three pitches later. Then Teheran blew a 92 MPH fastball by the pinch hitter. Gomez saw five fastballs in the final at-bat of the game, missing a 91 MPH, four-seamer to allow Teheran off the mound unscathed.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said no matter the outcome, Gomez was going to be Teheran’s final batter, but he wanted to see his starting pitcher fight for the complete game.

“We were going to give him an opportunity [to finish the game],” said Gonzalez. “He deserved that. He earned that. There’s going to be a point in the game that we weren’t going to let him hurt himself, or put himself in a position where you’re going to risk an injury. But I think what he threw 128 [pitches], that’s right in the wheelhouse.”

Not only was his most recent win the second complete-game shutout of the season for Teheran, it was his first win since that last nine-inning outing. Five starts, and two losses, came in between his complete game in Philadelphia on April 16, and him sitting down 27 Brewers Tuesday. But his ERA didn’t balloon even though wins weren’t coming. Teheran’s current 1.92 ERA is just a tad lower than the 1.93 he sported upon finishing the game against the Phillies just more than a month ago.

His earned run average may look very similar, and complete games may be becoming old hat for Teheran, but this one was more comfortable.

“I felt a little different this time from the last time in Philadelphia,” said Teheran, comparing the two complete-game shutouts. “I was a little bit excited about the ninth inning [in Philadelphia]. And this time I just concentrated, I was a little bit calm. I tried to do the same thing that I did in the eighth inning before.”

Now that Teheran is becoming adept at smelling blood in the ninth-inning waters, expect more long outings to come, as he cruises through the 2014 season.

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