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Braves WBC recap: Teheran stifles Canada despite Freeman’s RBI hit

Teheran overcame a rough first inning and his teammate’s RBI single to shut down Team Canada, while Inciarte went 0-for-5 in an 11-run Venezuelan outburst.

Baseball: World Baseball Classic-Colombia at Canada Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

As Pool C and D play heats up this weekend, Braves fans were granted a rare treat: two of the team’s best players opposing one another in World Baseball Classic action.

Julio Teheran drew the start for Colombia, facing off against Canada in essentially a must-win game for both clubs. (While not technically a must-win, it will be very hard for any team that loses two games in pool play to advance.) He did not look comfortable early, missing to his arm side with his fastballs and up in the zone with his offspeed pitches. A five-pitch walk to Justin Morneau and a first-pitch single brought up his Braves teammate, and Team Canada’s best hitter: Freddie Freeman. Teheran first missed high and away with a fastball, and then grooved a belt-high changeup over the plate. Freeman, as we’ve seen many a time before, didn’t miss it, hooking a liner to right field to drive in Morneau as the first run of the game. (Weirdly, it didn’t look like Morneau really should have scored, but Colombian right fielder Jesus Valdez threw the ball to second instead of to the cutoff man, giving Morneau an easy opportunity to scamper home despite a very late sign to keep running from the Canadian third base coach.) Freeman was also thrown out trying to steal a base later in the inning, even though it looked like he got to the base well ahead of the throw and the tag.

Teheran settled in after that: he struck out Mariners prospect Tyler O’Neill, and then retired 13 straight batters. One of those was Freddie Freeman, in the fifth: Freeman swung at a first-pitch slider that caught the plate and hit one of his patented short-right dunkers. But, the Colombians had a massive shift, and third baseman Giovanny Urshela, playing basically in a right-field rover position, made a diving play near the foul line to deny Freeman of the hit.

By the time Teheran left the game, his team had a 2-1 lead. They would tack on two more, and the Canadian bats remained silent (or cold? is that too on point?). Colombia ended up cruising to a 4-1 win.

A much more high-octane affair took place with Ender Inciarte and the Venezuelan team in Jalisco, Mexico, facing off against Italy. The game was just all sorts of insanity, with Venezuela and starter Martin Perez falling behind 5-0 after four innings, but then scoring eight runs before giving up three to leave the game tied going into the ninth. Venezuela then jumped ahead by two runs, and it looked like that might be it, but Italy scored two of their own to tie it, sending it to extra. Finally, fan favorite Martin Prado laced a one-out double that scored the eventual winning run, giving Venezuela an 11-10 lead.

If you’re wondering why the paragraph above didn’t include anything about Inciarte... well... it’s because he went 0-for-5 in a game where his teammates pounded out 17 hits and also walked five times. Inciarte had two fly outs, a pop out, a strikeout, and a groundout, never advancing a runner or anything else. It was a forgettable day at the plate for him, but he’s probably just happy that Team Venezuela broke out of their funk and might live to see the next round of the WBC tournament at this point.

Freeman will take his hacks against Team USA tomorrow night, while Inciarte will face off against the Mexican pitching staff. Teheran’s Team Colombia has a date with the highly-touted Dominican Republic team; that game is at 12:30 ET (remember to change your clocks!).

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