After an Inciarte trademark groundout to first and a rare Adrianza strikeout, the first inning was fairly promising on offense, as Jake Lamb and Pablo Sandoval strung together consecutive two out singles before Jason Kipnis popped out to end the inning. Sean Newcomb got the start on Friday, and was pretty effective in the first inning, inducing an easy groundout and striking out two.
The second inning was a bit more tame as Johan Camargo lead off with a strikeout and Cristian Pache worked a full count before striking out looking on a slider that the umpire said grazed the top of the zone before Alex Jackson flew out on the warning track to right field. Newcomb looked a bit less sharp in the second, allowing a single and hitting a batter in between two strikeouts before recording a soft ground ball out to end the inning unscathed.
The third inning was similarly uneventful on offence, with three consecutive groundouts, including the world famous Inciarte “groundout to the right side”. Likely opening day roster member Nate Jones was the first arm out of the bullpen in the third. Jones got a shallow fly ball out and struck out Jorge Polanco before allowing a solo home run to #braveslegend Kyle Garlick. Jones issued a walk before getting a strikeout on a full count to end a taxing 29 pitch inning.
The offense wasn’t able to muster much in the fourth, with Sandoval hitting a one out single before Jason Kipnis ended any threat, grounding into a double play. Grant Dayton was handed the ball for the bottom of the fourth. Dayton’s outing went similarly to Jones’, recording two outs before allowing a homer to Willians Astudillo and walking the next batter. Unfortunately for Dayton, the struggles did not end there as he walked yet another batter before mercifully being gifted a flyout on a center-cut fastball.
The fifth inning held some fireworks in store. Camargo led off the fifth inning with a well hit double, but was almost thrown out due to his sub-optimal speed. Cristian Pache followed this up with a line drive single right up the middle and he cleverly advanced to second on the throw home, despite Camargo having stopped at third base. An Alex Jackson single rewarded Camargo’s caution and Pache’s speed, scoring them both. Phillip Ervin followed Jackson’s single with a soft chopper for a double-play. Ender Inciarte hit yet another ground ball, but this one was to left field for a hit. Ehire Adrianza hit an easy fly ball to the right fielder to end the inning at two runs scored with a tie ball-game. Grant Dayton ran back out to pitch in the bottom of the inning and didn’t have a much easier time. He struck out the leadoff batter before allowing an absolute moonshot to Miguel Sano that Statcast projected to fly 458 feet ay 110.7 MPH exit velocity. Dayton battled back to strike out the final two batters of the inning.
JA Happ came in to pitch his second inning in the sixth and immediately found himself in some more trouble after getting Jake Lamb to ground out, allowing singles to the Panda and Jason Kipnis. Camargo had an ugly strikeout and Pache hit a deep flyout to dead center to end the threat with no runs. Flamethrowing prospect Victor Vodnik was handed the ball for the bottom of the frame and allowed a ground ball single. He then got incredible unlucky as Adrianza bobbled an easy double-play ball at short and wasn’t able to record an out, leaving runners at first and second. Vodnik did well to get himself out of the jam without any damage, striking out two and getting a soft flyout to Pache.
William Contreras lead off the seventh on offense with an infield single that he legged out against JA Happ in his third inning of work. Phillip Ervin walked to get runners on first and second. Inciarte did some damage on an opposite field double over third base that hilariously had a 59.4 MPH exit velocity. Ehire Adrianza then hit a sharp ground ball single up the middle to score Ervin and Inciarte, giving the Braves a 5-3 lead and advanced to second on the throw home. A wild pitch from the struggling Happ scored Adrianza as the Twins’ catcher made an inaccurate throw to third. Jake Lamb and Bryce Ball struck out back to back with the bases now empty. Kipnis was unable to start anything more with two outs, hitting a soft fly ball to center field that required a nice running catch. Vodnik returned for the home side of the seventh and was very impressive, striking out two more and getting a soft groundout to third for the final out of the inning.
Camargo struck out and prospect Michael Harris grounded out to begin the inning, but William Contreras continued to make his case for the opening day backup catcher position as he absolutely smoked a double into the left field gap, at 110.6 MPH off the bat. Phillip Ervin struck out with Contreras on second for the third out. The Braves brought in another high octane pitching prospect for the eighth in William Woods. Woods struck out his first batter before allowing a homer to Jose Miranda after getting a bit unlucky to have not struck Miranda out before that point. Things continued to go downhill for Woods, as he allowed another homer to the next batter. Woods rebounded to strike out the next batter and induce a grounder to first to escape the inning with no further damage
Justin Dean struck out to open the ninth inning, but Braden Shewmake, Sean Kazmar, and Bryce Ball hit three straight singles, with Ball’s bringing home Shewmake. CJ Alexander grounded into a double play to keep the score at 7-5 heading into the bottom of the ninth. Yet another high velocity prospect was called upon in the ninth by Atlanta, in the form of Daysbel Hernandez. Hernandez walked the first batter and advanced him to second on a wild pitch after getting a line out. This proved costly, as the next batter singled to score the runner and put the tying run on base. The next batter singled as well, to give the Twins runners on first and second with one out down one. Hernandez got a strike out before walking another to load the bases and force Brian Snitker to bring in another pitcher. Continuing our theme for the evening, he chose another pitcher with a big arm in Freddie Tarnok. Tarnok was up to the task and blew David Banuelos away with a strikeout to secure the win.
The Braves will be back in action at 6:05 PM ET on Saturday, in a game that will be streamed on MLB.com.