Spring Training: Braves rally past Tigers, 4-2 (2015)
The Atlanta Braves offense went to work late and edged the Detroit Tigers by a 4-2 final score on Monday.
At the plate: Quiet in the early going, the Braves found the runs they needed in the latter innings. The top of the order certainly did its part. Both Todd Cunningham and Jace Peterson collected three hits apiece, with Peterson scoring two of Atlanta’s four runs. Freddie Freeman plated the first run of the day with a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning. Christian Bethancourt tied things up in the seventh with an opposite field, solo shot to make it a 2-2 game. It was his first home run, but Bethancourt has put together a fine spring, batting .306 in 13 games. The Braves scored two runs off Joba Chamberlain (-) in the eighth to go ahead for good. Phil Gosselin collected a go-ahead, RBI-single and Joe Benson lifted a sacrifice fly to stretch the lead to 4-2.
Elsewhere in the lineup, Andrelton Simmons and Kelly Johnson were each 1-for-3, while Nick Markakis and Chris Johnson were each hitless in three at-bats. Jonny Gomes was 0-for-1 but walked twice. Freeman had the sac-fly, but was 0-for-2 otherwise. That big day for Cunningham also included a nice catch in center field, a position the Braves are looking to fortify prior to opening day.
On the mound: Needing a solid outing to help prove his readiness to join a big league rotation, Mike Foltynewicz pitched well enough to remain in the fifth starter discussion. Over 3-2/3 innings, he allowed two runs on five hits and a walk while striking out two. The Tigers dropped a couple of singles wrapped around a stolen base to plate a first inning run against Foltynewicz. The other run came in the fourth on Yoenis Cespedes’ fifth home run of the spring. Righty Jim Johnson came on to record the final out of the inning.
The rest of the day on the mound belonged to veteran lefty Eric Stults (2-0), who is also competing for the final spot in the rotation. He strengthened his case with five innings of one-run ball, walking one and striking out three. That good work lowered his ERA to 1.89 in 19 innings. If he does figure into Atlanta’s big league plans, Stults can opt out of his minor league deal on Wednesday, April 3, leaving the Braves just three more days to make a decision.
Of note: The Braves made two more roster cuts prior to the game, optioning right-hander Arodys Vizcaino to Triple-A Gwinnett and reassigning right-hander Michael Kohn to minor league camp. Both men had their command issues at times, though Vizcaino’s was hit harder. He allowed eight runs on nine hits and walked eight over the course of eight innings this spring. Kohn also walked eight men, but allowed just three runs over 8-1/3 innings. Both men figure to begin the season with Gwinnett and be available if needed in the big league pen at some point during the season.
Up next: Braves vs. Astros — Tuesday, March 31 at 6:05 p.m.
LHP Wandy Rodriguez vs. RHP Asher Wojciechowski
Grant McAuley covers the Braves for Sports Radio 92-9 The Game. Follow Grant on Twitter.