Spring Training: Braves fall to Astros, 8-5 (2015)
The Atlanta Braves dropped a seesaw affair to the Houston Astros by an 8-5 score on Tuesday night.
At the plate: It was a back-and-forth battle, with Houston drawing first blood and then building a late inning lead. Atlanta staged a four-run fifth inning rally to grab a short-lived, 5-3 advantage. Kelly Johnson got the scoring started with an RBI-double in the fourth. He finished 1-for-2 and was forced to leave the game in the fifth inning after being hit by a pitch. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that Johnson has secured a spot on Atlanta’s 25-man roster after batting .286/.417/.531 line in 19 games this spring.
Elsewhere in the lineup, Nick Markakis was 0-for-3, but scored a run and collected an RBI. He’s batting just .105 in Grapefruit League play after missing the first few weeks while recovering from off-season neck surgery. Eric Young Jr. had yet another multi-hit game, going 2-for-5 with a run scored and his seventh stolen base of the spring. A.J. Pierzynski likewise collected two hits in five trips and roped a two-run single in the fifth inning.
On the mound: Wandy Rodriguez ran into some early trouble, but put together a solid effort in his final spring tune-up. He allowed three runs on the night, a pair of runs in the first inning and a solo-homer in the fourth, but struck out eight men and did not issue a walk over five innings. Brandon Cunniff (0-1) surrendered a three-run homer to Colby Rasmus which allowed the Astros to take the lead back for good. Closer Craig Kimbrel turned in another strong out, striking out a pair in a perfect seventh inning. Luis Avilan surrendered a two-run double in the eighth inning, allowing Houston to stretch the lead to 8-5. He worked 1-2/3 innings before fellow lefty Brady Feigl got the call and struck out the only batter he faced.
Of note: Good news for center fielder Melvin Upton Jr. on Wednesday. After having his spring derailed by sesamoiditis in his left foot, he will very likely be getting out of the walking boot on Friday. Upton has not taken part in a workout since February 25, but has been hitting in the cage for the last two weeks with the boot on according to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution… Catcher Christian Bethancourt will miss a day or two after having his wisdom teeth extracted reports Mark Bowman of MLB.com… Zoilo Almonte cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Gwinnett. Since he had previously been outrighted by the Yankees, he can now elect free agency… Atlanta now has 35 players remaining in Major League camp.
Up next: Braves @ Phillies — Wednesday, April 1 at 1:05 p.m.
RHP Julio Teheran vs. LHP Cole Hamels
Grant McAuley covers the Braves for Sports Radio 92-9 The Game. Follow Grant on Twitter.