Spring Training: Braves split Saturday games (2015)
The Braves played their final split squad games of the spring on Saturday, beating the Nationals 5-2 at home and losing a 1-0 affair on the road against the Cardinals.
At the plate vs. Nationals: After being held off the board for three innings by Taylor Jordan, the Braves went to work trailing 2-0 in the fourth inning against Washington reliever Evan Meek (0-1). Atlanta scored three runs in the frame, courtesy of a two-run single by Jonny Gomes and a go-ahead RBI-single from Todd Cunningham. Clinging to a 3-2 lead in the seventh, the Braves got some insurance with a run-scoring single from Cedric Hunter and an RBI-ground out from Alberto Callaspo.
On the mound vs. Nationals: Lefty Eric Stults (1-0) turned in a solid effort as he aims to join the Atlanta rotation. He was touched up for a pair of runs in the top of the third, but settled in to work five innings of two-run ball on five hits and a walk while striking out two. Bullpen hopefuls Michael Kohn and Juan Jaime came on to toss scoreless innings, while Brandon Cunniff worked the final two innings and earned the save.
At the plate vs. Cardinals: Second baseman Jace Peterson continued his excellent spring, collecting two hits off St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright. With those knocks, Peterson is now batting .351 in Grapefruit League play. Veteran catcher John Buck also enjoyed a two-hit game, while Freddie Freeman reached base twice. He collected Atlanta’s only other hit and drew a walk.
On the mound vs. Cardinals: Righty Chien-Ming Wang has not been getting much mention in the battle for a spot in the rotation, but he turned in his best performance of the spring on Saturday. Wang tossed 4-2/3 scoreless innings, scattering three hits and two walks. Out of the bullpen, Arodys Vizcaino worked around a hit and a walk to post 1-1/3 shut-out innings. Sugar Ray Marimon followed with two more blank frames. The Cardinals walked off on Dean Anna’s RBI-single against Aaron Kurcz (0-1), who did not retire any of the three batters he faced in the ninth.
Of note: Atlanta got its first look at former right fielder Jason Heyward in Saturday’s meeting with the Cardinals. Heyward finished 1-for-2 with a single and a walk and is batting .364 this spring… Meanwhile, new Braves right fielder Nick Markakis took batting practice again on Saturday morning. He continues to recover from December neck surgery and has yet to be cleared for game action, but remains hopeful he can be ready to play by opening day according to Mark Bowman of MLB.com.
Up Next: Braves vs. Tigers — Sunday, March 22.
RHP Shelby Miller vs. LHP Kyle Lobstein
Grant McAuley covers the Braves for Sports Radio 92-9 The Game. Follow Grant on Twitter.