Monday, April 6, 2015

Bullpen, timely hits complement Teheran in opener

Julio Teheran kept the Marlins in check for six-plus innings, and received a big assist from the Braves' bullpen in the seventh inning. Backed by two RBIs from Nick Markakis, Atlanta edged Miami, 2-1, on Monday in front of an Opening Day sellout of 36,969 at Marlins Park.
Atlanta relievers Luis Avilan and Jim Johnson worked out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the seventh inning to preserve Teheran's one-run lead.
In the action-packed seventh, consecutive singles from Michael Morse,Martin Prado and Marcell Ozuna loaded the bases off Teheran. Avilan entered and got Jarrod Saltalamacchia to bounce into a 5-2-3 double play.Adeiny Hechavarria's soft foul pop to first ended the threat.
Henderson Alvarez was effective over seven innings, but Markakis' two RBIs proved to be the difference.
"We had some chances, had some opportunities," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "We just didn't get that one big hit. But we ran into a couple of outs as well. But, that's baseball. We'll come back tomorrow and be ready to go."
The game featured the first rain delay in the four-year history of Marlins Park. Home-plate umpire Jeff Nelson stopped play in the bottom of the second inning, and play resumed 16 minutes later, after the roof closed and the field was treated.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Marlins Park rain delay: There is a first for everything. On Monday, the retractable-roof facility had its first rain delay. Not expecting rain, the roof was open for the pregame ceremonies. All went well. But with Miami batting in the second inning, the weather changed, and an unforeseen shower caused Nelson to stop play to allow the roof to close. The wet dirt played a factor in the eighth inning when Gordon dropped down a perfect bunt, but wiped out on the infield dirt and was thrown out easily. More »
Third out on bases: Teheran didn't give the Marlins too many chances early. But twice, he was assisted by Miami making its third out on the bases. Gordon was thrown out by Christian Bethancourt trying to steal second to end the third inning. And in the fourth, Giancarlo Stanton gambled trying to go first to third on Prado's single to left. But Stanton was tossed out at third to end the frame. More »
Contact and speed: With limited power in their lineup, the Braves will need to manufacture runs like they did in the fifth, when Eric Young Jr. turned Ozuna's misplay in shallow center into a hustle double. Jace Peterson followed with a sacrifice bunt to set the stage for Young to slide home with the decisive run ahead of the throw Gordon made after fielding Markakis' grounder to the right side. More »
Grilli time: A little more than 24 hours after Craig Kimbrel was traded to the Padres, Jason Grilli produced a perfect ninth to notch a save in his first appearance as Atlanta's new closer. He struck out Stanton and Morse before inducing Martin Prado's game-ending lineout. More »
QUOTABLE
"We just want to win and find a way to win. Today was a case in point. Everybody played the way we needed fundamentally, and we did what we needed to do." -- Grilli, on Braves' win
"Despite all the stuff that happened, we still had a chance to at least tie it up. We ran into that double play. That was pretty much the ballgame after that." --Redmond, on the pivotal seventh inning
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Alvarez snaps hitless drought: It took three innings before Miami got its first hit, and it was by Alvarez. Teheran had retired eight straight before the Marlins pitcher doubled to left. You may recall, the Marlins were no-hit by Washington'sJordan Zimmermann in the final game of 2014. Counting those nine innings, Miami was hitless for 11 straight innings dating back to Justin Bour's single at Washington in the ninth inning on Sept. 27.
LINEUP PLANS
Though Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has always favored mixing right-handed and left-handed hitters in his lineup, he is currently planning to put one switch-hitter and three consecutive left-handers at the top of his lineup against right-handed starters. The obvious drawback was witnessed when left-handed reliever Mike Dunn notched consecutive strikeouts of Peterson, Markakis andFreddie Freeman in the eighth.
WHAT'S NEXT
Braves: Alex Wood will attempt to pick up where he left off last year when he starts Tuesday night's game against the Marlins. After spending some time in the bullpen because he was on an innings limit, Wood produced a 1.92 ERA in his final 11 regular season starts.
Marlins: Mat Latos, who grew up in South Florida, attended the first Marlins game in 1993. The now 27-year-old right-hander makes his Marlins debut on Tuesday. Latos has faced the Braves once in his career. He had a no-decision last year, throwing six innings. Latos is coming off a 5-5 (3.25 ERA) season with the Reds in 2014.

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