Mike Foltynewicz strong, Nick Markakis reaches base in long-awaited debut to highlight Braves' All-Stars
By virtue of their biggest contingent of players in six years, the Braves were bound to make an impact on the 89th All-Star Game.
Mike Foltynewicz came on to pitch an impressive fourth inning and Nick Markakis reached base in his long-awaited debut in the National League's 8-6 loss to the American League in 10 innings on a home-run fueled Tuesday night in Washington, D.C.
Meanwhile, fellow starter Freddie Freeman -- making his third All-Star appearance -- went hitless in his two at-bats, while another first-timer, reserve Ozzie Albies, grounded out in his lone trip to the plate.
"Very nervous still," Foltynewicz said after. "I'm still kind of shaking."
Markakis, who trailed only teammate Freeman in the NL voting, flied out to left field in his first at-bat off the Yankees' Luis Severino, then followed that by getting the free pass vs. the Rays' Blake Snell.
The 13-year veteran Markakis came into the game with the most games played (1,933) and hits (2,172) for a player making his All-Star debut.
"If I could take back one thing, I maybe would have maybe liked to have swung at that 3-0 pitch," Markakis said of his night. "That's something I'm not comfortable doing. I didn't want to jam myself and pop up to the pitcher. That's pretty embarrassing. Overall, it's pretty awesome."
Freeman -- starting in the game for the first time after appearances in 2013 and '14 -- lined out to left to end the first inning in his first trip to the plate, then grounded out vs. Snell in his second chance.
“It was a blast. Being around the best players in the world and competing and putting a little bit of a show ... there's nothing more fun that that," Freeman said. "We had a good time and hopefully we showed well."
Foltynewicz certainly did, as he put on the biggest show among the Braves.
He came on in after the Mets' Jacob deGrom and opened his All-Star debut by striking out the Indians' Jose Ramirez on three straight four-seam fastballs of 97.8, 98.4 and 92.4 mph. The right-hander would walk the Yankees' Aaron Judge on five pitches, but got the Orioles' Manny Machado to pop out to third and the White Sox's Jose Abreu to fly out to center to end the inning.
Foltynewicz went up 0-2 on every batter except Judge in the scoreless frame.
“At the end of the day, I didn’t want to walk anybody," Foltynewicz said. "Unfortunately I walked one of the best hitters in the game. It was too fun out there, just kind of just going out there and throw strikes, get guys out as quick as I can, get it over with."
Freeman and Markakis both exited after the fifth inning, when Albies entered the lineup at second base in place of the Cubs' Javier Baez. He played four innings in the field, but his only at-bat came in the seventh as he grounded out sharply to second base against the Astros' Charlie Morton on an 0-2 count.
Albies was in line to bat third in the ninth inning against the Mariners' Edwin Diaz, but he was removed in lieu of the Reds' Scooter Gennett. The pinch hitter smacked a two-run home run to tie the game at 5-5 before the AL responded in the 10th with back-to-back home runs from Houston's Alex Bregman and George Springer.
“It was a great experience. (I was) happy when they put me in to play. It was awesome. ... Just kind of have fun with it and try to get a base hit. They cut me off," Albies said, laughing.
While the Braves couldn't help the NL end its losing streak in the game, which now stretches to six straight, four players making the roster and Freeman participating in Monday's Home Run Derby couldn't help by feel like a celebration of their surprising season.
At 52-42 and 1/2 game behind the Phillies in the NL East, Atlanta held the division lead for 47 games in the first half and the All-Star vote was proof their rise has been noticed outside of the Southeast.
They had two starters for the first time in five years since Javy Lopez and Gary Sheffield in 2003 in Chicago, and the quartet were the most they'd sent to the game since Chipper Jones, Craig Kimbrel, Dan Uggla and Michael Bourn in Kansas City in 2012. If not for a voting frenzy from Cubs fans over the last 24 hours, Albies -- who led all second basemen going into the final day -- Atlanta would have had three players in the starting lineup.
The Braves will instead have to settle for the world clearly being out on a team that is well on its way to putting four straight losing seasons behind it.
Follow Cory McCartney on Twitter @coryjmccartney and Facebook. His books, 'Tales from the Atlanta Braves Dugout: A Collection of the Greatest Braves Stories Ever Told,' and 'The Heisman Trophy: The Story of an American Icon and Its Winners.' are now available.