Reporting Grant McAuley
Braves down Mets, 2-1 on St. Patrick’s Day
What went down: Each team used a solo home run to get on the board. The Mets struck first, as Jordany Valdespin hit Julio Teheran’s second pitch of the game over the right field wall. Chris Johnson tied the game in the top of the fourth, victimizing Jon Niese for his third homer of the spring.
Teheran (2-1) turned in another impressive outing. The lead-off home run was his only notable mistake of the day (6IP, 3H, 2BB, 7K). He threw 83 pitches, 56 of which were strikes. Teheran lowered his Grapefruit League ERA to a miniscule 1.35.
The bullpen followed with three scoreless innings. Luis Avilan and Dusty Hughes bridged the gap to the ninth, where Anthony Varvaro closed things out for his second save of the Spring.
Atlanta’s offense was provided by the corner infielders. Johnson homered and Freddie Freeman roped an RBI-single in the sixth to plate the eventual winning run. Oddly enough, the Mets had Jordan Schafer picked off in that fateful sixth inning. He beat the throw to second, was then sacrificed to third by Gerald Laird and brought home on Freeman’s single.
What stood out: Teheran got hit hard by the first three batters, but began working his fastball down in the zone thereafter. His four-seam fastball was routinely in the 93 mph range, while he worked his two-seamer around 88 mph . Teheran mixed in his change-up and slider in as well to stay one step ahead of New York hitters. Laird drew the start behind the plate and praised Teheran’s work ethic this Spring as well as the focus and poise he displayed after giving up three hard hit balls to start the game.
Offensively, the third base battle is still a dead heat. Johnson collected three hits, including his third home run of the spring. He also made some nice plays in the field, one coming in to field a short hop and another backhand scoop toward the line (both in the bottom of the seventh). Juan Francisco pinch hit for Teheran in the seventh and collected a single in his only at-bat of the game. Manager Fredi Gonzalez has yet to tip his hand on who the starting third baseman will be… Evan Gattis checked into the game to play left field in the bottom of the sixth inning. He was hitless in two at-bats and is now batting .378 for the Spring.
News and notes: The starting outfield trio did not make the trip to Port St. Lucie on Sunday. They got their work in at the Wide World of Sports Complex… Left fielder Jose Constanza got his first start of the spring after being delayed in the Dominican Republic because of work visa issues. He was 0-for-2 but did make a leaping catch against the wall in the first inning… Johnson’s three-hit game has his Spring average up to .333… Francisco is hot on his heels with a .326 mark in Grapefruit League play.
Up next: The Braves return home on Monday to welcome the Phillies to Champion Stadium. Righty Kris Medlen makes the start for Atlanta. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m.