The red-hot Braves took a detour halfway across the country for Monday’s makeup game against the Rockies, only to be stymied by a junk-ball pitcher and then get walked-off.
The strong performance by right-hander Tim Melville, who started the season in an independent league, set up the snapping of Atlanta’s eight-game winning streak. And the bullpen, finally cracking for the first time in a couple weeks, took the shine off Julio Teheran’s six shutout innings in a 3-1 loss.
“Melville adds and subtracts a lot on everything,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “He’s one of those guys where if you haven’t seen him before, he’s going to be a tough ride.”
Charlie Blackmon’s sacrifice fly off Chris Martin in the eighth inning gave Colorado a 1-0 lead, but the Braves responded in the ninth with Francisco Cervelli’s triple and the sacrifice fly by Adeiny Hechavarría.
However, Ryan McMahon had the final say with his two-run, walk-off homer off Jerry Blevins, and the Rockies won the game originally scheduled for April 10.
“We were poised to give up a run (late in the game), and after that we were running on fumes,” Snitker said. “You don’t see many games like this in this place, that’s for sure. We just couldn’t get a big hit.”
Atlanta had plenty of opportunities to win its season-best ninth straight, but left nine men on base and went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position as the pinball effect of Coors Field was negated, if only for a day, by effective pitching on both sides.
“My slider was working today, and so was my changeup and two-seamer,” Teheran said. “I didn’t throw any curveballs, but everything was good and we used it the right way.”
Ozzie Albies doubled in the first for the Braves’ initial threat, but they couldn’t capitalize. Nor could Atlanta with a runner in scoring position in the third against Melville, who impressed in his second outing with Colorado after being called up from Triple-A Albuquerque on August 21.
Atlanta had its best chances to break through against the right-hander in his final two frames, and it didn’t happen.
In the fourth, Freddie Freeman’s leadoff walk and steal set the table for Matt Joyce’s single to left field. But Ian Desmond gunned down Freeman at home, and the play withstood an Atlanta challenge even though replay appeared to show Freeman’s sliding foot just beating the tag by Colorado catcher Dom Nunez.
Atlanta loaded the bases against Melville in the fifth, but Freeman grounded out to end the threat. That completed Melville’s performance as the right-hander averaged 90 mph on his fastball and induced 26 foul balls on 100 pitches, one of which clocked as slow as 67 mph.
Meanwhile, Teheran – coming off seven shutout innings against the Marlins last week – was masterful again, even if it was a second straight outing against one of the National League’s worst teams. The Rockies managed only three hits against him, and didn’t put a runner in scoring position until the sixth inning.
“I used to face him a lot, and what he did today was the same,” said Cervelli, who joined the Braves last Saturday and caught Teheran for the first time. “He was uncomfortable for hitters and he hid the ball really well. He was throwing perfect pitches in-and-out, up-and-down against a tough lineup.”
Even with the defeat, Snitker remained upbeat as the team heads back to Toronto for a two-game set, noting the team’s recent hot streak has come amid a .199 collective average over the last nine games.
“We’ve won 8 out of 9 and really haven’t swung the bats as a team very well at all,” Snitker said. “We’ve really pitched, which is great… Hopefully when the bats come alive again, they’ll pick the pitching up and it’ll be a good balance.”