Mike Foltynewicz, who entered the game with an 8.02 ERA, looked like a different pitcher Sunday.
“I felt he looked like the old Folty,” manager Brian Snitker said after the Braves’ 3-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers in 10 innings at SunTrust Park.
Foltynewicz made his fifth — and by far his best — start of the season, more closely resembling the pitcher who made the National League All-Star team last year than the pitcher who had allowed 26 hits and 23 runs (19 earned) in 21-1/3 previous innings this season. He held the Brewers to three hits and two runs in six innings Sunday, showing improved velocity and inspiring hope among his manager and teammates that he is getting back on track.
» Mark Bradley: Still wondering who are these Braves
“That was a really good outing for him to build on,” Snitker said. “That is as positive as I’ve been about him all spring.”
“It was good to see him get up to 96-97 miles an hour again,” first baseman Freddie Freeman said. “It looked like he was coming after hitters more aggressive.”
Foltynewicz left the game with the Braves trailing 2-1, the runs against him coming on solo home runs by Christian Yelich in the first inning and rookie Keston Hiura in the fifth. The Braves tied the game 2-2 on Freeman’s 200th career home run in the seventh inning, marking the fourth consecutive game in which he has homered.
The Braves lost in the 10th inning when the Brewers’ Ben Gamel hit a 416-foot home run to center field on the first pitch by reliever Wes Parsons, the fifth Atlanta pitcher.
The loss broke a four-game winning streak and completed a 4-2 homestand in which the Braves won two of three games from St. Louis and two of three from Milwaukee. As the team departed for a four-game series in San Francisco beginning Monday night, Foltynewicz’s performance was the biggest takeaway from the homestand finale. He attributed his progress to hard work done between starts.
“I made some mechanical adjustments, got my hands into a better position where they need to be,” Foltynewicz said. “All of my pitches were coming up a lot better than they were in the past. … (I was) throwing where I wanted a little more instead of missing bad or throwing something not competitive.”
Foltynewicz last season had 12 quality starts — defined as a performance of six innings or more with three or fewer runs allowed — but Sunday’s was his first such start this season. It trimmed his ERA to a still-ugly 6.91.
“You start thinking about a lot of things when you do bad,” Foltynewicz said. “All that mental stuff can catch up to you. You just have to learn to flush all that away and keep working and keep grinding.
“You can think about a lot of stupid, dumb things when you’re on this path (struggling), but I’ve got a great support team — not only at home but here. These 25 guys and these coaches have been tremendous. It brings a tear to my eye almost, the support they have brought me this month and a half. This makes today a little more special — guys coming up to me, saying, ‘Great job, keep it right there, we need you.’ ”
Foltynewicz batted in the sixth inning, striking out swinging, but did not return to the mound for the seventh. That was because “he got a little dizzy on the swing,” Snitker said. Foltynewicz attributed the light-headedness to the afternoon heat and to not eating before the game.
But the Braves saw enough through six innings to look forward to Foltynewicz’s next start.
“He was pitching today. He wasn’t just out there with overpowering stuff throwing,” Snitker said. “It was fun to watch.”
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.