On a sunny St. Patrick’s Day afternoon, the Braves dropped a Spring Training contest to the Orioles by a 5-2 margin. Due to the unusual 6:05 pm start, batters had to contend with shadows crossing over the infield for much of the early innings, and that potentially gave the Braves’ Charlie Morton and the Orioles’ John Means some advantages over opposing hitters, who really didn’t do much in the early going.
Through his first four innings, Morton allowed just three hits and zero walks while striking out four. Things got a little dicier for him in the fifth, as a leadoff single, a tapper in front of the plate, a passed ball, and a walk put runners on the corners with one out and spelled the end of his day. Sean Newcomb came on and promptly allowed a sacrifice fly for Baltimore’s first run, but then struck out Trey Mancini to end the inning.
The Braves had similar struggles with Means, who retired the first ten batters he faced. But then Ozzie Albies strode to the plate a second time, and walloped a laser into left field to open the scoring.
Travis d’Arnaud followed with a single, but the Braves couldn’t add on.
The rest of the offensive slate for Atlanta was not particularly noteworthy. They strung together a couple of baserunners in the fifth, but Ender Inciarte was thrown out trying to go first-to-third on a liner to left. Ronald Acuña Jr. and d’Arnaud both walked in the sixth, but were stranded. In the eighth, the Braves got a second run as Guillermo Heredia drew a leadoff walk and scored on a two-out single by Sean Kazmar Jr., but that was it for them offensively. Overall, they drew six walks on the day, but collected just four hits, and no extra-base hits beyond Albies’ longball.
With the game tied 1-1 in the sixth, the Braves gave the ball to Huascar Ynoa, who was slated to throw three frames. It seemed like he wouldn’t quite manage, because the Os plated four runs against him in the frame, going double-double-single-double with one out, and adding a fifth and final run on a passed ball. The single was a bloop into center, but the doubles were hit fairly hard. Still, Ynoa collected two strikeouts in the frame, and didn’t walk anyone. He also did get through three frames — he struck out Mancini in the seventh but had him reach first when the pitch got away from Alex Jackson behind the plate, but then promptly got a double-play ball. He then struck out the side in the eighth, giving him six punchouts in three frames to go with no walks. If for some better fortune on the balls put in play against him, Ynoa could’ve had a dominant outing.
The Braves have a rare (and weird) Spring Training off day tomorrow, and tangle with the Twins once again for another 6:05 pm start on Friday.