A day later and a couple of thousand miles away, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez still was being asked about Julio Teheran’s sensational pitching performance Wednesday afternoon against the Pirates, when the rookie came the closest any Brave has to throwing a no-hitter in nearly two decades.
Teheran had a no-hitter until Brandon Inge’s two-out single in the eighth inning. The 22-year-old Colombian had a career-high 11 strikeouts with two walks and two hit batters in eight innings, and reliever David Carpenter finished off the one-hit shutout with two strikeouts in a perfect ninth inning.
“You enjoy those games, and the ride out here — now get ready for the Dodgers,” Gonzalez said Thursday afternoon at Dodger Stadium, before the Braves opened a four-game series and seven-game trip that will end in San Diego. “But I thought Julio was terrific. Nice to see him mature and grow every time he goes out there.”
After posting a 7.31 ERA with no decisions in his first three starts, Teheran is 4-2 with a 2.13 ERA and .246 opponents average in his past eight starts. The right-hander has 43 strikeouts with only eight walks and three homers allowed in 55 innings over that eight-start period, which includes six consecutive quality starts.
And he keeps getting better: In his past four starts, Teheran is 2-1 with a 1.52 ERA and .178 opponents’ average, with 29 strikeouts in 29 2/3 innings.
The Braves have had 12 one-hitters since Kent Mercker threw the team’s last no-hitter in 1994, and no Atlanta pitcher since Mercker took a no-hit bid as deep as Teheran, who next will start Tuesday against the Padres, in the next-to-last game of the trip.
Teheran threw a career-high 41 sliders yesterday, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That’s a pitch he honed this winter at the Braves’ behest, and veteran backup Gerald Laird, who has caught all but two of Teheran’s starts this season, has made sure he continued to throw even when there have been times that Teheran wasn’t overly comfortable with it.
Pittsburgh hitters had 22 swings-and-misses against Teheran, the most he’s ever recorded and the most for any Braves starter in two seasons. All of his 11 strikeouts came on swings, only the third major league double-digit strikeout game this season in which all strikeouts were swinging.
Gattis stays solid: The rise of Teheran could give the Braves a pair of candidates for the National League Rookie of the Year award, as Evan Gattis continues to slug his way into consideration. Gattis hit his 13th home run Thursday, which tied Gattis with St. Louis' Carlos Beltran for sixth in the NL. Beltran had 206 at-bats to Gattis' 148.
Of the 24 major leaguers with more than eight homers, the only other one with fewer than 169 at-bats was Washington’s Bryce Harper, with 11 in 150 at-bats.
Among NL players with at least 150 PAs, Gattis was tied with Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt for fourth in slugging percentage (.608) behind the Colorado trio of Troy Tulowitzki (.651), Carlos Gonzalez (.625) and Michael Cuddyer (.609).
Heyward vs. Dodgers: Jason Heyward will try to carry over his strong performance against the Pirates — three consecutive two-hit games — into the series against the Dodgers, who've frustrated him more than any other team.
The Braves’ right fielder was 10-for-82 (.122) with no homers and 28 strikeouts in 23 games against the Dodgers before Thursday, including 5-for-42 (.119) with no extra-base hits in 11 games at Dodger Stadium. Those are his worst stats against any team he’s faced more than three times, and his worst at any ballpark he’s played more than three games.
He wasn’t sure what it was about the venerable ballpark in Chavez Ravine, although he noted absence of a large batter’s-eye backdrop or seating in straightaway center.
“Other than there being (wide) sky out there behind the pitcher’s mound — other than that, I couldn’t tell you anything else,” he said. “But again, like I said last year, they’ve always had some pretty good pitchers here. Last year was the best series I’ve had here (3-for-11 with a walk). You never know.”
After going 8-for-48 (.167) with two extra-base hits and three RBIs in his first 14 games back from the disabled list after an appendectomy, Heyward went 6-for-14 with two extra-base hits and two RBIs, and three consecutive two-hit games, during the Pittsburgh series that ended Wednesday.