On the evening of his return, Mike Foltynewicz displayed some delightful moments but was hurt by the long ball. In all, the Braves are just happy to have their ace back.
Foltynewicz pitched six innings, allowing four runs, but the bullpen meltdown led to a 9-5 loss. Foltynewicz missed the first 25 games of the season due to a right elbow bone spur. The injury also diminished his spring, when he made only one start in the exhibition season.
“It was good to get the first one out of the way,” he said. “Despite the outcome, I had a lot of fun out there being out there with the guys.”
Nolan Arenado and Daniel Murphy tagged Foltynewicz with solo homers in the second and fourth innings, respectively. Arenado’s came just after the Braves took a 1-0 lead on Freddie Freeman’s homer, while Murphy’s came on a 96-mph fastball that he pummeled from the bottom of the zone.
Foltynewicz was gliding through much of the game, keeping his pitch count low. He finally ran out of steam in the seventh, when David Dahl tripled. Ryan McMahon singled him home, and Raimel Tapia’s double pushed across the fourth run, ending Foltynewicz’s night.
“Overall, I just wish I had that seventh inning back,” Foltynewicz said. “I just had balls out over the middle of the plate. Just some tough-luck hit balls there. … I just really wish I had that inning back. Other than that, just a couple pitches over the plate to some All-Star hitters and they did what they needed to do with it.”
The line won’t jump out, but Foltynewicz didn’t look rusty. He struck out five and his velocity sat in the mid-to-upper 90s. That’s an encouraging sign for the Braves, who already boast a strong rotation.
“He was throwing a lot of strikes and the breaking ball was really good,” manager Brian Snitker said. “He looked great.”
Foltynewicz made four rehab starts in Triple-A Gwinnett, stumbling into a 6.11 ERA. He was never particularly sharp, which necessitated his fourth outing, scattering 17 hits and nine walks over his 17-2/3 innings. His final outing didn’t read well, but context suggests the umpiring did him few favors.
Foltynewicz, 27, was an All-Star in 2018. He earned a 2.85 ERA in 31 starts, striking out 202 and holding opponents to a .196 average. He realized much of the potential the Braves saw when acquiring him via trade in January 2015.
The Braves will try to avoid a sweep Sunday with Kevin Gausman facing his hometown team for the first time. Tyler Anderson will start for Colorado, which has an eight-game winning streak in Atlanta.
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