The idea of matching Julio Teheran against Jacob deGrom didn’t quiver excitement within the Braves’ fan base. Cue the adage, “That’s why they play the games.”
Teheran pitched his best game of the season — six innings, allowing one run — and his offense did enough damage against deGrom and the Mets’ bullpen to get the Braves a 7-3 win on Sunday night. They salvaged a series split after dropping the first two.
Nick Markakis and Josh Donaldson homered off deGrom. Both have gone deep back-to-back nights after not doing so in the first 12 games. Ronald Acuna added an RBI-single off the reigning Cy Young winner.
DeGrom was coming off a rare horrific outing in which the Twins hit him for six runs in four innings, snapping his streak of 26 consecutive quality starts. He’s now allowed at least two homers in his past two starts after not doing so once last season.
He was solid, though below his standards, Sunday: deGrom scattered five hits and three runs over five innings, striking out nine but walking four.
That’s a downgrade from his usual numbers against the Braves. deGrom entered with a 1.70 ERA in 17 starts against them, including eight shut-out innings in their final meeting last September. That ERA was the lowest of any pitcher with at least 15 starts against the Braves in Atlanta-era history.
“He is such a competitor,” manager Brian Snitker said of deGrom. “The stuff is so good. The guys battle really hard when they play him.”
Since last season, deGrom owned a road ERA of 1.66. He posted a 2.44 mark in 64 starts against the National League East. The odds simply weren’t in the Braves’ favor.
Instead it was Teheran who embraced ESPN’s prime-time matchup. The righty tossed 92 pitches, allowing six hits and striking out six. Notable: He only walked two, and the lone damage was a first-inning solo shot from J.D. Davis. He didn’t pitch a perfect inning, but no baserunners transformed into greater troubles.
“Every time I had guys on base, I didn’t panic at all,” Teheran said. “I just tried to make the right pitches to the next guy, and that’s what I was able to do the whole game.”
Teheran has had his own run of success against the Mets, entering with a 2.39 ERA in 25 games against New York. Teheran pitched to a 1.65 ERA against them in five starts last season.
In his last eight outings against the Mets, Teheran has a 1.78 ERA (10 earned runs over 50-2/3 innings).
It was a nice rebound after Teheran surrendered six runs at Coors Field. It was his third quality start in four outings, another encouraging sign after the veteran struck out 21 and walked only two in four spring training games (17 innings).
“I was excited to pitch against one of the best in the league,” Teheran said. “We all know that. But I got my mind right. I know I’d been doing great besides my last outing, a couple mistakes, but it wasn’t like I was thinking about that coming into this game. Today (I got) back on track.”
Given how the series began, the Braves will happily take a split. They won’t see the Mets again until mid-June, when they’ll play six times in a two-week span. The past two wins tied them in the early standings, with the Phillies a half-game behind.
The Braves are off Monday before opening a three-game series with Arizona at SunTrust Park. Left-hander Max Fried is set to start Tuesday.