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Braves fall to Rays in Grapefruit League opener, 9-7

Austin Riley finished with two hits in his spring debut

Detroit Tigers v Atlanta Braves Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The Atlanta Braves officially kicked off the 2021 Grapefruit League season with an 9-7 walk-off loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.

As you would expect from the spring opener, there was a mix of good and bad for the Braves. Kyle Wright got the start and worked in and out of trouble in the first, but wasn’t as fortunate in the second. Wright would exit after allowing four hits and three runs in 1 1/3 innings. He walked one and struck out one.

Connor Johnstone replaced Wright and immediately gave up a two-run home run to Austin Meadows that bounced off the top of the wall in right center. Sean Newcomb would take over in the third and immediately served up a home run to Mike Brosseau on a 3-2 pitch. It was the full experience from Newcomb who allowed one hit, one run and two walks to go along with two strikeouts before the Braves elected to end the inning. Per the radio broadcast, Newcomb was hitting 95 mph on the radar gun and had a sharp curveball.

Carl Edwards Jr. tossed a scoreless inning and struck out top prospect Wander Franco in his spring debut. Patrick Weigel had a noisy fifth but most of the damage occurred when Justin Day lost a fly ball off the bat of Tistan Gray in the sun. The ball fell in and Gray turned it into a triple with two runs scoring on the play. Weigel allowed three hits, two runs and two walks before the inning was called. Tucker Davidson tossed a scoreless sixth allowing one hit while striking out one. Thomas Burrows came on for the seventh and allowed a two-run walk-off home run to Gray to end the game.

Offensively, Atlanta’s first run came on a run-scoring single by Bryce Ball. They tacked on another when Jason Kipnis reached on an error by Willy Adames that scored Austin Riley to cut the deficit to 4-2. Dansby Swanson and Austin Riley brought home a pair of runs with RBI singles in the fourth. Riley finished the game with a pair of hits. Swanson was 1-for-2 with a walk.

Catching prospect Shea Langeliers entered the game in the fourth and showed off his good arm hosing Tampa’s Vidal Brujan on a stolen base attempt. Drew Waters also entered the game in the fourth and led off the fifth with a walk. He immediately stole second, moved over to third on a passed ball and then came home on a sacrifice fly by Trey Harris. Atlanta’s final two-runs came in the seventh when Logan Brown recorded a pinch hit single and then came around to score on a two-run homer by Sean Kazmar Jr.

Atlanta will be back in action on Monday with Huascar Ynoa scheduled to make his first start of the spring against the Red Sox.

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