For three years Julio Teheran has been the Braves top prospect. Those days are over.
Teheran is doing in live action what the Braves front office and baseball scouts have projected for years. He backed it up by coming four outs shy of a no-hitter Wednesday afternoon, dominating the Pirates in a 5-0 win.
Teheran struck out a career-high 11 batters, walked two and hit two more but a free base was about the only way the Pirates were going to reach.
Pinch hitter Brandon Ingle singled cleanly to left field to break it up with two outs in the eighth inning, leaving Teheran just shy of becoming the first Braves pitcher to throw a no-hitter since Kent Mercker’s against the Dodgers on April 8, 1994. The 28,703 who played hooky Wednesday afternoon stood and applauded Teheran, as he stood on the back of the mound.
Teheran got Starling Marte to pop up to end the eighth and was greeted by Dan Uggla who mobbed him with pats on the head and back, and then the rest of his teammates greeted him with high-fives in front of the Braves dugout. He’d throw 107 pitches, 79 of them for strikes, and the pitcher’s spot was due up.
David Carpenter finished up the game with a scoreless ninth to give the Braves their fifth shutout victory of the year.
Teheran used a pickoff throw in the sixth inning to keep the Pirates to over three over the minimum.
Andrelton Simmons extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a leadoff infield hit in the first inning and scored on a Chris Johnson hit. That was all Teheran would need but Evan Gattis and Gerald Laird hit back-to-back home runs in the sixth inning for good measure. For Gattis, it was his 13th home run in only 148 at-bats this season, and Laird’s first home run as a Brave.
Teheran came out pounding the strike zone Wednesday afternoon, throwing 21 of his first 24 pitches for strikes. He didn’t reach double digits in balls until the fourth inning. He matched his career-high in strikeouts with nine on the first batter he faced in the sixth inning.
The Pirates could not time him. They seemed to be looking fastball when he went to the slider, and looking for breaking pitches when he went to the fastball. He even dipped down to 68 mph on a curveball to get Starling Marte to fly out in the fourth inning.
Teheran gave up two walks – one to Andrew McCutchen after he didn’t get the call on a borderline 2-2 pitch - and he hit a batter, though Starling Marte was right up on the plate at the time. Teheran picked off Marte at first base to end the sixth inning and keep him at over two batters over the minimum.
About the only thing to break up his rhythm was the myriad pitching changes for the Pirates. Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez had to leave Wednesday’s start with tightness in his left forearm after only 14 pitches and recording one out. After hitting Freddie Freeman with a pitch in the first inning, the Pirates trainer ran out to the mound and Rodriguez pointed to the inside of his left elbow – a troublesome sign.
The Pirates had to piece together the rest of the game from an already taxed bullpen.
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