Matt Wisler came into today’s game against the Astros needing a solid performance after a string of rough outings, and he duly delivered as the Braves and a relatively young lineup made easy work of a split squad Astros team at The Ballpark in Palm Beaches. Unfortunately, a complete collapse in the ninth inning resulted in the Braves losing today’s game 5-4.
There were no runs whatsoever until both starters exited the game following the fourth inning. While the Braves were having problems figuring out Dallas Keuchel — who is looking for a bounce-back season of his own, although comparing him to Wisler is like comparing Granny Smith apples and Mandarin oranges at this point — the same could be said for the Astros as Wisler breezed through four innings.
Wisler only needed 51 pitches to get through those four innings, and he picked up two strikeouts along the way with only one hit allowed and no walks. Although Wisler’s definitely going to be heading to Gwinnett to start the season, this was an encouraging outing and exactly what he needed after a few rocky starts so far this spring.
As soon as Dallas Keuchel exited the game, the Braves’ bats came to life. Will Harris entered the game in the fifth inning in relief for Keuchel and the Braves jumped on him almost immediately. A leadoff single and a walk led to Adam Walker smacking a double to left field to plate the first run of the afternoon. Blake Lalli recorded the first out of the inning, but his ground-out moved the runners over and pushed Walker over home plate to make it 2-0 at that point.
Two innings later, Rio Ruiz made it 4-0 after he looped a single over the head of Houston’s first baseman. Meanwhile, the Astros got on the board in the bottom half of that frame when they turned a “rally” against John Danks into just one run. Mauricio Cabrera entered the game in the eighth inning and recorded a scoreless inning, which continued what’s been a solid spring for himself.
Overall, it was a pretty good day for the Braves’ pitchers as they only gave up two hits over the first eight innings of play. It wasn’t until Luke Jackson entered the game in the ninth inning which is when things finally got out of hand as far as Atlanta was concerned. Jackson came in and failed to record an out as the Astros scored four runs in the ninth to turn what was once a 4-0 deficit into a 5-4 walk-off victory.
With that being said, the most encouraging sign is the fact that Matt Wisler pitched very well against a decent split squad lineup from the Astros. Again, this probably won’t be enough to push him past Mike Foltynewicz and into the fifth starting spot (and it would’ve taken both a spectacular spring from Wisler and a calamitous camp from Folty for that to happen) but it’s still nice to see Wisler bring it together for a start this spring.