Three Cuts: Teheran gem goes unrewarded in Braves' loss to Marlins
JUL 21, 2014 9:28p ET
ATLANTA -- Here are three things we gleaned from the Braves' 3-1 loss (10 innings) to the Marlins on Monday, a pitching-dominated defeat that dropped Atlanta out of first place in the National League East:
1. The Braves bullpen could only play with fire so many times before things broke open in extra innings
Atlanta's relief corps had a tough act to follow on Monday, feeling intrinsic pressure to match the greatness of starter Julio Teheran (more on him later); and for the most part, the group started out well.
Jordan Walden got first crack on the mound, striking out two and surrendering just one hit in a scoreless eighth inning.
All-Star reliever Craig Kimbrel then took the stage, allowing two walks and a base hit -- loading the bases with nobody out -- before rallying in big-time fashion, striking out two batters and then coercing Marlins pinch-hitter Donovan Solano into a rally-killing soft lineout.
By all appearances, the Braves had survived the worst part of the storm ... only to get burned in the 10th, when Shae Simmons first gave up a bases-loaded, game-breaking RBI single from Garrett Jones -- putting the score at 3-1.
In his postgame media address, manager Fredi Gonzalez said the club has full confidence in Simmons (20 of 23 stellar appearances heading into Monday) against left-handers -- and how the outing was a "learning curve" experience for the promising rookie.
"We feel good that he'll give you a nice, solid inning. It just didn't happen (on Monday)," said Gonzalez, whose Braves now sit at 54-45 for the season (one game behind the Nationals).
2. The day may come when Julio Teheran registers at least one double-digit-strikeout game against every National League team (minus the Braves)
Doing the math, the 23-year-old Teheran (one run, four hits allowed vs. Miami) should reach the above objective sometime after his 26th birthday, a remarkable projection for a kid with only 55 major-league starts under his belt -- including Monday's 11-strikeout gem against the Marlins.
For his career, Teheran has tallied double-digit strikeouts five times, against five different clubs (Pirates, Diamondbacks, Rockies in 2013/Nationals, Marlins in 2014). Of equal importance, the Braves righty walked no more than two batters for each outing.
To label this as Teheran's greatest pro start sounds ambitious, since he didn't officially factor into the result. However, among the noteworthy no-decisions in his career, this was easily the most dominant performance within that realm.
"Teheran was about as good as I've seen him pitch in a long time," said Gonzalez. "Guess you can say that (nearly) every time he goes out."
Here are the highlights from Teheran's no-decision masterpiece:
**11 strikeouts (tied for career high)
**71 strikes (108 pitches overall)
**The first nine Marlins batters were easily retired
**Zero hits allowed through 4 2/3 innings
**No more than four batters faced for Innings 1-6
**Top-end fastballs that routinely clocked in the 90s
**One walk allowed ... with only six Miami hitters getting to "Ball 3" in the count
"Everything was working today," said Teheran, whose seasonal ERA plunged seven points to 2.64. "(I had) just one mistake (a Jarrod Saltalamacchia homer in the 5th, which broke up the no-hitter) that cost me that one run."
3. Credit Evan Gattis for showing good patience on his first day back in the lineup
Gattis, who averages one homer for every 15.6 career at-bats (entering the day), is a rare bird in today's game -- a perpetually active free swinger who also hits for average (.290 on the year).
So, you can imagine how jacked up Gattis (DL stint: bulging disk in back) must have been for Monday's game, his first MLB action since June 27.
That exuberance was evident on Gattis's first at-bat, striking out against Marlins righty Tom Koheler in the second inning. Interestingly, that encounter immediately preceded Chris Johnson's RBI groundout, scoring Justin Upton.
Herein lies the razor-thin differences of baseball: If Jason Heyward hadn't gone all-out for second base on his single (allowing Upton to reach third), then Johnson's groundout might have been an inning-ending double play.
Instead, it represented the night's lone scoring output for a Braves offense that had averaged 7.2 runs in their last five games (4-1 in that span).
Gattis would get more comfortable as the game pressed on, collecting a single in the 4th and then a walk in the 6th. His greatest bit of patience came in the 9th, with the score tied at 1.
With Bryan Morris undoubtedly aware of Gattis's penchant for swinging on the first pitch ... the Marlins reliever threw a breaking pitch nowhere near the plate.
And Gattis, even with arms and elbows shaking in anticipation, passed on the ball, opting for hopefully something better. (He would later ground out.)
3a. Andrelton Simmons' diving snag/force-out tag might have trumped the 'butt-throw' as his defensive play of the year
Go ahead, compare and contrast ... which gem elicits a louder, more visceral shout of Holy (something-something):
a) Simmons' sitting-down assist from deep in the shortstop hole (April 9 against the Mets).
b) Simmons' acrobatic diving snag/force-out tag, debunking one of Sir Isaac Newton's laws of physics.
My vote goes to B ... and Gonzalez -- along with other unnamed Braves -- might have agreed with that tally.
"(Andrelton) gets upset because he couldn't turn two on that play," marveled Gonzalez, before taking the Simmons praise to a new (and rightfully earned) level.
"A couple guys said in the dugout, 'If he would have turned two on that play, they would have taken their uniform(s) off' ... because he's in a different league. That's how special (Simmons) is."