Outside of one shaky inning, the Braves were in control for much of the evening. Ronald Acuña, Jr. and Nick Markakis led the charge by reaching base four times apiece and each driving in two runs, and Dansby Swanson drove in three.
As has often been the case in recent years, Julio Teheran’s tendency to allow one inning to dictate his overall line was on full display. After his offense gave him an early 7-0 lead, his fifth inning was the stuff nightmares are made of, as he quickly unraveled after four solid no-hit innings to start the game. The Braves bullpen actually proved serviceable for one of the first times this season, going four scoreless innings and bailing him out.
The Braves didn’t waste much time cranking up their offensive machine, jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. Ronald Acuña, Jr. gave another example of his power to all fields, mashing an 87 mph slider into the right field seats. The estimated distance was 434 feet, with a 111.6 MPH exit velocity. For anyone worried about his stats, hopefully home runs like that will assuage your fears.
Rockies starter Kyle Freeland was visibly frustrated with his control issues and got himself into trouble in the third inning. After a walk to Josh Donaldson, JD’s second of the night, a Freddie Freeman laser single and a HBP to Acuña loaded the bases for Nick Markakis, who slapped the first pitch he saw into left center to stretch the score to 4-0. Freeland loaded the based later in the inning, but managed to escape without allowing any additional runs - at least in the third.
Freeland found himself back in the soup in the fifth inning, as Acuña and Markakis were brought home on a Dansby Swanson triple to deep center. By the time a wild pitch clanged off Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta and Swanson scampered home, the score was 7-0 and the Braves were sitting pretty.
Then, the bottom of the fifth happened and things got interesting.
Teheran‘s no-hit bid was still intact at this point, as he had looked in control for most of the night. Things quickly started to go sideways as soon as Josh Fuentes singled to center to tally one in the hit column for the Rockies. A Pat Valaika double to left sent Fuentes to third, then a Garrett Hampson sacrifice fly put them on the board. On the next pitch, pinch hitter Mark Reynolds did what he does best, and pulverized one to left, bringing the score to 7-3.
After striking out Raimel Tapia to get the second out, it looked like the damage might mercifully end there. But alas, a Nolan Arenado single was followed by a mammoth blast off the bat of Trevor Story, and just like that, it was 7-6. This would be the end of the line for Julio - based on his line, you’d never guess he didn’t allow a hit for 80% of his appearance. He was seen slamming his glove in the dugout afterwards, and rightfully so - it was a frustrating inning for all of us, but nobody more than him.
Luke Jackson came on in the sixth, and looked...good? I’m not sure what to make of this new look version of Jackson, who has proven somewhat effective since Opening Day. He has struck out 7 in his last 4 ⅔ innings, with no walks.
Though the current lead would hold, the Braves put themselves in a position to pile on in the 7th inning. After Acuña led off the inning by reaching base for the fourth time (this time on a walk) and Markakis singled to left, they both advanced a base after a bad throw by Tapia. However, Scott Oberg came in to relieve DJ Johnson and following a sac fly from Swanson to stretch the score to 8-6, the threat ended unceremoniously. Not that we don’t all love seeing Dansby drive in as many runs as possible, but when you’re at Coors, you want to pile on as many runs as humanly possible, just to ease the blood pressure a bit.
Chad Sobotka had quite an outing for himself, going 1⅓ innings and striking out two. Aside from a warning track fly ball to Nolan Arenado, he looked spectacular.
AJ Minter worked around a ninth inning double to notch his first save of the season. For as bad as the Braves bullpen has been up until this point in 2019, Monday night saw a different version of the relief core, and one that didn’t make me want to climb a clock tower.
With this victory, the Braves are now 6-4, 1⁄2 a game behind the Mets for second place. The Rockies fall to 3-8. These two teams will tango again tomorrow night, starting again at 6:40 MT. Join us, won’t you?