Mike Foltynewicz has had a roller coaster of a season to date, but he put everything together in what has been his best career start to lead the Braves to a 2-0 victory over the White Sox on the last day of the season's first half. Foltynewicz began with a flourish and didn't let up the whole way: he allowed five singles and nothing else while striking out ten batters and keeping the Sox off the board.
To say that Foltynewicz dominated is perhaps too passive of a way of describing his performance. He threw just four balls in the first inning while recording two strikeouts, and benefited from a rare throwout of a runner by AJ Pierzynski to go three-up three-down in the first. The first time he faced more than the minimum in the game was in the third, when the Southsiders strung together consecutive two-out singles, but got Adam Eaton to fly out softly to end the threat. After that, it was just two more singles the entire game, and he finished strong by striking out the side swinging in the seventh. In relief, Chris Withrow threw an uneventful 1-2-3 eighth and Jim Johnson notched his second save of 2016 with a scoreless ninth.
The offense was pretty sparse for the Braves, but it was enough. White Sox starter James Shields pitched into the 8th on just 93 pitches, and allowed only two big blows: a homer on an absolutely terrible hanging curveball to Jeff Francoeur in the second, and then a cutter that didn't cut deposited by Jace Peterson into the right field seats in the third. Aside from that, Shields allowed just four other hits and two walks, generating lots of weak contact rather than getting strikeouts (he finished the game with just two).
AJ Pierzynski finally hit his 400th double in the contest, but the Braves were generally stymied: they managed five trips to the plate in just one inning (when Peterson and Freeman walked), and either went 1-2-3 or sprinkled in a hit or walk in every other inning. They hit into three double plays, though the White Sox hit into two as well.
With the win, the Braves sit at 31-58 at the end of the first half, their lowest first-half win total since 1988, when they went 30-54 On a winning percentage basis, this has been the worst first half in Atlanta Braves history. But, at least June and July have been much better than the season's opening months, and the Braves will hope to carry over those improvements to the season's second half, which begins next Friday.