MILWAUKEE – A.J. Minter and closer Arodys Vizcaino pitched the eighth and ninth innings of the Braves’ 5-1 win Saturday at Milwaukee, which wasn’t surprising.
But the fact that Vizcaino pitched the eighth inning and Minter the ninth was a bit of a new wrinkle.
Braves manager Brian Snitker has said recently that he would be comfortable using left-hander Minter and Dan Winkler in save situations, and that he would be careful not to overuse Vizcaino in hopes of avoiding a recurrence of shoulder inflammation that required a recent two-week stint on the disabled list.
But it was generally assumed he meant using Minter, who has converted all four save opportunities this season, or Winkler to close games in which Vizcaino wasn’t pitching.
Saturday, he used Minter and Vizcaino in the same game and had Minter handle the ninth inning, which became a non-save situation after the Braves scored three runs in the eighth to turn a 2-1 lead into a four-run margin.
Snitker indicated that match-ups could dictate who’s used in which inning, at least now while he’s trying to get Vizcaino back settled into a good groove following his return from the DL. He worked a scoreless, one-hit inning Wednesday at Yankee Stadium in his first game back, and Saturday was only his second appearance since June 17.
“Right now I’m just ...” Snitker said, not finishing the thought. “Actually, the first two guys up (in the eighth) I thought were better match-ups for Viz in that game. Just trying to get him back in it. Really like the way he’s throwing; I think he’s feeling really good, but it’s the second time he’s been out there since the DL. We’re liable to close with him (in Sunday’s series finale at Milwaukee).”
Vizcaino got right-handed hitter Eric Kratz on a ground-out to start the eighth and gave up a single to switch-hitter Jonathan Villar before retiring lefty hitters Eric Thames on a fly-out and Christian Yelich on a grounder.
Minter faced four batters in the ninth, allowing a one-out infield single to Travis Shaw and striking out the other three.