On opening day, Julio Teheran continued his dominance against the Mets. But the Braves continued their trend of not scoring when he pitches, wasting a strong Teheran performance before their bullpen came apart in a 6-0 opening-day loss at Citi Field on Monday.
Teheran pitched six scoreless innings but the Mets blew the game open with six runs in the five-walk seventh, scoring first on a challenged and reversed call, then opening the floodgates against relievers who couldn’t throw strikes, to the delight of a sellout crowd of 44,384.
“He just battled his butt off,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of Teheran, who allowed four hits and three walks with six strikeouts in 96 pitches. “His stuff was good, moved the ball around, changed speeds, did what he does ad kept the game right there. … Just the one inning kind of spiraled out of control (against the bullpen).”
Freddie Freeman had three hits for the Braves, who went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and twice failed to score after getting two runners on base with one out and also after Freeman’s one-out triple in the fourth inning.
“We had our opportunities today and couldn’t get it done,” Freeman said. “But Julio looked great, and as long as we keep getting (scoring) opportunities we’ll get them in.”
Relievers Ian Krol, Chaz Role and Eric O’Flaherty issued five walks in the seventh inning including three by O’Flaherty, who walked Neil Walker to load the bases and walked Jay Bruce to bring in the third run of the inning. That was followed by Lucas Duda’s bases-clearing double against O’Flaherty.
“We just keep playing ball like that, I know the guys in the bullpen with continued work will be OK,” Snitker said. “It’s just a shame Julio again threw the ball so well and didn’t get anything for it.”
Krol allowed a single by Rene Rivera to start the inning before Wilmer Flores grounded into a force at second. Krol then walked Jose Reyes before Asdrubal Cabrera singled to center for his third hit.
Flores tried to score from second base on the play and Inciarte made a strong throw to the plate, but the initial out ruling was challenged and overturned after replays showed Flores’ foot touched the plate just before catcher Tyler Flowers’ tagged him. Flowers fielded the throw behind the plate and had to reach to get to Flores, the difference in a would-be out.
“I just saw it quick, haven’t had a chance to look at it again,” Snitker said. “It looked like (the throw) was right there on the money, just couldn’t make a tag. That was a big momentum shift. Probably turns the game around.”
Roe replaced Krol and walked the only batter he faced, Yoenis Cespedes, to load the bases. Next was O’Flaherty, who made the team as a non-roster invitee to spring training after an outstanding showing in Grapefruit League play. Curtis Granderson’s sacrifice fly off O’Flaherty gave the Mets a 2-0 lead before O’Flaherty’s command abandoned him.
Teheran and Noah Syndergaard staged a scoreless pitchers duel for six innings, with Syndergaard limiting the Braves to five hits with no walks and seven strikeouts before leaving the game with a blister on top of his middle finger.
The Braves had two prime opportunities to take a lead against Syndergaard. Freeman tripled with one out in the fourth inning, but Matt Kemp and Nick Markakis both struck out to strand him at third.
In the sixth inning, one-out singles from Dansby Swanson and Freeman put runners on the corners, before Kemp struck out swinging at a Syndergaard slider and Markakis lined out to left field to end the inning.
“We had a couple of opportunities,” Freeman said. “That’s what (Syndergaard) does. That’s the reason he’s starting opening day, he’s one of the best pitchers in the game and he worked his way out of trouble.”
Teheran, in his fourth consecutive opening-day start, matched Syndergaard with six scoreless innings and got no run support, a familiar theme from 2016. In an All-Star season, Teheran was just 7-10 despite a 3.21 ERA as the Braves gave him just 3.35 support runs per nine innings pitched, second-lowest among major league starters.
Against the Mets, Teheran is 3-0 with 0.63 ERA in his past six starts going back to June 2015, but the Braves are only 3-3 in those games, failing to score while he was in two of them and scoring one run while he was in another.
Teheran is 5-2 with a 1.49 ERA in his past 10 starts against the Mets, including 2-0 with a 0.90 ERA in four last season. He pitched a one-hit shutout June 19 at Citi Field, facing only 28 batters (one over the minimum), and pitched eight scoreless innings against them six days later in Atlanta.
“Last year I did really good against them,” Teheran said. “There’s no reason to make adjustments. That’s what I was talking to (Flowers) about, we weren’t going to change anything until we see something different. If I keep getting them out in the same way, that’s what I’m going to be doing the whole year.”
The Mets had more than one runner reach base in just one inning Monday against Teheran.
“I felt really good,” Teheran said. “I threw all my pitches and everything was working. Me and Flow were doing like we used to do, get on the same page and (work) really good.”
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