Sure, it’s just Spring Training, but you never want to have an eight-game losing streak hanging over your head. Fortuitously, then, the Braves were finally able to stop their seven-game Grapefruit League skid with a 3-2 win over the Phillies.
The big takeaway from this game has to be the effective pitching by perpetual entertainment machine Bartolo Colon, and two very solid innings of work by Sean Newcomb.
Colon allowed just three baserunners in three innings, though one of those, a leadoff walk to start the game, came around to score after a follow-up single and a couple of groundouts. In his second inning of work, Colon notched a pair of strikeouts, and enjoyed the neutralization of a two-out walk when Brandon Phillips snared a liner to end the frame. A one-two-three third inning ended Colon’s fruitful afternoon.
The Braves’ bats, facing off against Jeremy Hellickson early in this one, did their heavy lifting after Colon’s departure. Micah Johnson and Phillips both singled in the bottom of the third, and Nick Markakis brought them home with a one-out, opposite field double.
In the fourth, Mauricio Cabrera pitched around a two-out walk of his own to record a scoreless inning. That brought in Sean Newcomb for the fifth. Newcomb had struggled in his previous Spring Training outing (one inning, six baserunners, four runs), but got good results today. He struck out the first two batters he faced, then gave up a hard opposite field grounder for a single, and then elicited a groundout to third. Back out for the sixth, Newcomb got two more strikeouts that sandwiched another groundout. His final line: two innings of work, one hit, four strikeouts, and critically, zero walks. Something to build on, for certain, for the high-ceiling lefty.
Newcomb’s good work notwithstanding, the Phillies were able to tie the game in the seventh off of Paco Rodriguez, thanks to a bloop single, a groundout moving the runner to second, and a solid single to center. The Braves got that run right back in the bottom of the frame off of Mark Appel, though, as Rio Ruiz drew a one-out walk and scored on a two-out groundball triple that rolled into the right field corner. Appel actually struck out the side in that inning, but to no avail, as he gave up the game-winning run in the frame.
Jose Ramirez and Ian Krol shut the door on the Phils in the eighth and ninth to give the Braves their third Grapefruit League victory.
Offensively, Phillips, Markakis, and Micah Johnson led the way with two hits each. Matt Kemp finally got his first Spring Training hit of the year, a sixth-inning single that was promptly undone with an Adonis Garcia GIDP. Travis Demeritte struck out in his only plate appearance, while Rio Ruiz went 0-for-2 with a walk and a strikeout.
Tomorrow, the Braves remain at Disney, where they’ll host the Yankees at 1:05 PM.