Ian Anderson’s Friday night start may not have been exactly flawless, but he definitely managed to turn some heads during his 4.1 innings on the mound for the Braves. Anderson racked up a bushel of strikeouts before eventually making his exit from what turned out to be a 4-2 win against the Twins.
Anderson started off the first inning of tonight’s game with a clean one-two-three inning, as he struck out two Twins batters in the process. That would be the start of a trend, as he picked up two strikeouts in each of the next three innings that he pitched. If we were going on the first four innings that Ian Anderson tossed this evening, it would be safe to assume that he was already up for the season to get started.
Ian Anderson got a Twins batter to propose to his changeup pic.twitter.com/qO8L3aZJG3— FOX Sports: Braves (@FOXSportsBraves) March 19, 2021
However, Ian Anderson did go out there for a fifth inning and that was when things got a little rocky for him. Anderson gave up three straight hits in relatively short order to start off the fifth inning, with the first two hits being singles and the third one being a double that tied the game at one run apiece. Ian Anderson picked up his ninth and final strikeout of the night for the first out of the fifth, but gave up the go-ahead single for the Twins on the very next at-bat and that was the end of his evening. While the struggles in the fifth inning were slightly concerning, I’d imagine that everybody’s going to be focusing on the fact that it only took Anderson 4.1 innings to pile up nine punch-outs against the Twins this evening. That’s definitely encouraging and you can imagine that Ian Anderson’s next spring start will be hotly anticipated after this performance.
Those two runs in the fifth inning would end up being all that the Twins would get on the evening, as the rest of the Braves pitching staff clamped down on Minnesota. Notably, Will Smith and Chris Martin each pitched one inning — Smith struck out two (and he now has eight strikeouts with no walks and just one hit allowed over four innings during this spring) and Martin picked up a strikeout, as well. As long as those two are healthy and clicking, good things will come from having those two available to continue pitching high-leverage innings this season.
As far as the offense went, it was a bit of a strange night for the Braves when it came to picking up runs. Ronald Acuña Jr. picked up the first RBI of the night on a fielder’s choice, Cristian Pache scored the second run of the game for the Braves on a passed ball, and then Pablo Sandoval scored run number three for Atlanta on a groundout. The fourth and final run of the night for the Braves came from a ground-rule double off the bat of Ehire Adrianza. Adrianza has been putting in some major work on the field whenever he’s gotten a chance here in spring training, and I’d imagine that he’s at least played himself into consideration to make the big league team out of camp. At the very least, he’s an intriguing utility bench option to consider at this point.
Been a lot of talk about him, especially tonight, but I think Ehire Adrianza may just make the #Braves Opening Day roster. He's certainly making a strong case with about 10 days to go. https://t.co/RexcVTovqw— Grant McAuley (@grantmcauley) March 20, 2021
The four runs for the Braves ended up being enough for them to hold on for the exhibition victory. Jacob Webb and Grant Dayton shared the ninth inning and both managed to keep the Twins from getting on base in order to close things out. If you missed seeing the Braves on TV tonight, the good news is that you can put it on Fox Sports South tomorrow afternoon at 1 PM Eastern time to see them play the Red Sox. You may not see Atlanta’s pitching staff strike out 14 batters for a second day in a row, but there’s bound to be something interesting going on.