Just how dominating of a pitching performance did we see Wednesday night in Philadelphia as Julio Teheran outdueled Cliff Lee to lead the Braves past the Phillies 1-0?
First, consider that in the first two and a half weeks of baseball this season, starting pitchers have thrown four complete games. Three came Wednesday, with two of those being hurled by the guys on the mound in Citizens Bank Park.
Lee struck out 13 batters and allowed just one run (a fourth-inning blast by Evan Gattis), but was touched for 11 hits (four from Gattis and three from Chris Johnson). Teheran struck out four and gave up just three hits. He had a perfect game going until an infield single by Ryan Howard broke things up.
Wednesday was the first time Teheran had pitched a complete game. He wouldn’t admit to reporters afterward that his first career complete game was the best pitching performance of his young career, but he did say it was special. So special, he packed up the game ball to send to his mother.
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Julio Teheran will send the game ball from tonight's complete game shutout to his mom in Colombia.— Tom Hart (@tom_hart) April 17, 2014
Wednesday’s outing was just the third time in Teheran’s 38-start career he’d pitched eight innings or more. The first time he made it through the eighth was May 20, 2013 against the Minnesota Twins, when he struck out four and pitched 8 1/3 innings allowing just one run, a ninth-inning homer to Josh Willingham that knocked Teheran from the game.
He lasted eight innings again on June 5, 2013 against the Pittsburgh Pirates. This game might be considered one of Teheran’s greatest in the back of his mind. He threw 107 pitches and struck out 11 while only allowing one hit, an eighth-inning, line-drive single to left by pinch hitter Brandon Inge.
While compiling a list of Teheran’s greatest feats is growing increasingly difficult with the number of solid outings he’s producing, seeing how much of an impact he has on this Braves team is easy.
In four starts this season, Teheran is 2-1 with a 1.93 ERA. He’s lasted at least six innings in each outing and allowed two runs or fewer in each start as well. On Wednesday, when the temperature was in the low 40s and he could have pitched a little more toward the heart of the plate without fear of repercussions, he stuck to his game plan and bombarded the outside of the strike zone.
Julio Teheran's strategy was to pitch the Phillies lefty hitters away. It worked. Take a look pic.twitter.com/77EKaqP1K2— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 17, 2014
Of the 75 strikes Teheran threw against the Phillies, only 16 were strikes called by the umpire without a swing. Everything else was a swing and a miss or a ball put into play. He stayed away from the lefty mashers Chase Utley and Howard, and pounded the strike zone for the rest oh Philadelphia’s lineup to induce 11 ground balls and 15 fly balls.
At just 23 years old, Teheran likely has many more complete-game efforts left in his arm. But the masterful outing is something the Braves are already used to.