Fifth-inning implosion costs Braves in Game 1 of doubleheader

In Teheran’s most erratic showing of the season, a couple of struggling Indians made him pay, resulting in an 8-4 Braves’ loss in Game 1 of a doubleheader. They’ve lost four in a row, tying their longest losing streak from last season.

The hitters who’d done the least this season hurt Teheran. Max Moroff, who entered hitting .077, hit the game-tying homer in the fourth. He had two hits and a walk on the afternoon. Greg Allen, hitting .036 (with one hit on the year), doubled in the go-ahead run.

Teheran labored through 4-2/3 innings, requiring 106 pitches (60 for strikes) and allowing five runs. Outside of one inning in Colorado, Teheran had pitched well across the season. 

But Saturday wasn’t his finest hour. He issued four walks and routinely worked into deep counts. His velocity was down, with his fastball averaging 89 mph. Game-time temperature was 48 degrees, which played a part.

“I don’t want to lie or make an excuse, but it was hard to get that grip with this weather,” he said. “Lately it’s been an issue for me, but I don’t want to make it an excuse. It’s part of the game. It happens to everybody. We were all cold.”

It went south in the fifth, when Teheran allowed two runs and was forced out in a 4-2 hole. Wes Parsons couldn’t minimize the damage, and Cleveland erupted for a six-run inning.

“It was a battle; it was that way the whole game,” Teheran said. “I know I didn’t have my best (slider), so I was fighting with my other pitches. I fell behind in counts, and when you fall behind there’s more chance you’ll give up a base hit.”

Teheran struck out Jason Kipnis, yielded a single to Carlos Santana and fanned Jake Bauers to open the inning. Allen doubled and Tyler Naquin singled, and that forced manager Brian Snitker to summon his bullpen.

On schedule, Parsons issued a leadoff walk. He allowed a pair of singles before walking Jose Ramirez. A passed ball and a Kipnis single later, Parsons was pulled from the game. Jesse Biddle finally got the third out.

Teheran’s early season has been defined by one-inning spurts. He was gliding through his outing in Colorado before a six-run fifth inning. He did enough to keep Cleveland in check until the fifth frame.

“It happened in my last outing on the road in Colorado,” he said. “The fifth inning, that’s when I kind of get in trouble. And it happened in this one. But I don’t know. It’s not like I have something on my mind in that inning. I just go out there. My last start at home, I went to the fifth and did fine, it’s not like it bothers me. But I’m curious why it happens in that inning. It’s part of the game.”

That fifth-inning implosion wasted the Braves’ offensive effort. Nick Markakis had a two-RBI day. Brian McCann hit his first homer of the season, immediately followed by Matt Joyce’s second. It was the first time this season the Braves had gone back-to-back.

Josh Tomlin, who pitched for Cleveland from 2010-18, received an ovation when he took the mound in the eighth. He retired the side in six pitches.

“He’s been huge,” catcher Brian McCann said of Tomlin. “He can sink, cut it, put the ball where he wants. He keeps hitters off-balance. He’s a great addition to the team.”

The Braves and Indians were set to square off again in Game 2, with Touki Toussaint making his first start. The series finale (Max Fried vs. Shane Bieber) will be on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball.”

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