LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Julio Teheran faced the Evil Empire on Wednesday and looked sharp and ready for his Braves opening-day start next week.
He allowed four hits and no walks with two strikeouts in five scoreless innings of the Braves’ 2-0 loss to the Yankees at Champion Stadium, leaving Teheran with a 2.01 ERA in five Grapefruit League starts, with 11 strikeouts and two walks in 22 1/3 innings.
“His last three or four starts, his last three definitely, his command was impeccable,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “He pitched in, his breaking ball was nails. I’m glad to see that going into five days from now.”
Teheran will face the Nationals in the regular-season opener Monday at Turner Field, which will be his third consecutive opening-day start.
“I feel great,” said Teheran, who had seven strikeouts with no walks in 11 scoreless innings over his final two spring starts. “I feel happy with what I’ve been doing, what I did the whole spring training. I know this was my last start, and I feel ready for the season.”
Cutting down on walks was a point of emphasis for Teheran entering spring training.
“That’s something I’ve been working hard to cut down,” he said. “I’m where I want to be, attacking hitters. And when I get behind in counts, just use my pitches. That’s what I’ve been doing.”
Gonzalez was also pleased to see Jim Johnson and Arodys Vizcaino work a scoreless and hitless inning apiece, and said he wasn’t concerned by Alexi Ogando giving up three hits and two runs in the eighth inning including consecutive triples.
“It was nice to see J.J.’s velocity start creeping up again,” said Gonzalez, who noticed a few 92-mph pitches for Johnson on the stadium radar gun, which the manager said had rarely had him above 89-90 in previous appearances. “(Jason) Grilli yesterday, Vizzy today. And I think this might have been the first (rough) outing Ogando has had. I’m happy to see how those bullpen guys are starting to get into season shape.”
Asked if he thought Ogando had been solid for the most part this spring, Gonzalez said, “Yeah, he has. He really has. And today, you could tell this is a veteran guy, gave up back-to-back triples and almost got out of it… Anyway, I’m a little bit more comfortable with those back-of-the-bullpen guys.”