The Braves fell by a 6-3 score in North Port on Sunday afternoon, as a set of early miscues defensively doomed Huascar Ynoa. But, since we don’t care about Spring Training results, the story here was Kyle Wright coming on in relief and flummoxing the Boston bats in a very strange way.
The early innings were pretty depressing, as Ynoa didn’t have good command of his slider, and the Braves woofed it up defensively. The game started on a positive note as Matt Olson hit an absolute moonshot off Nick Pivetta, but things quickly got grim score-wise thereafter.
After a first inning with three groundouts and an opposite-field single, Ynoa’s second frame started with a leadoff hit and then Jackie Bradley Jr. pulverizing an elevated pitch into the right-field corner for a two-run homer. Later in the inning, with two outs, Yolmer Sanchez hit a pretty routine fly in the gap that Alex Dickerson (who probably shouldn’t ever play the outfield) couldn’t flag down. Enrique Hernandez finished with a hard-hit grounder into the shift that Orlando Arcia (playing second, but lined up to the left of the second-base bag) booted. Rafael Devers by catching a Ynoa slider that may have hit the plate on a massive uppercut for a no-doubter three-run shot.
Ynoa did much better after that, retiring seven batters in a row, and nine of ten before he departed with two outs in the fifth. His slider looked a lot more crisp and well-located after the Devers homer; by contrast, across his first two innings of work, he missed badly with it repeatedly.
Kyle Wright came on in relief and utterly confused the Boston hitters. Wright’s final line involved 4 1⁄3 innings of two-hit, no-walk, six strikeout ball, but the amazing part was that he struck out four guys looking through his first seven batters, basically mowing down guys for two-plus frames by pumping in strikes that weren’t swung at. In the seventh, that ability kind of faded a bit, as he allowed a run thanks to an Austin Riley throwing error on a grounder and then an RBI single that Dickerson bobbled in right (not that it mattered for scoring the run), but then had a far less interesting two frames to close the game (two fly outs, two hard-hit groundouts, two swinging strikeouts) against Boston’s backups.
Offensively, the Braves didn’t do much against Pivetta or the other pitchers the Red Sox used. They got two men on after Olson’s homer, but Pivetta struck out Adam Duvall and Dickerson. Arcia ruined a potential leadoff batter in the second by getting himself thrown out trying to take second, and Dansby Swanson struck out to end that frame with a man on second. In the fifth, bad baserunning ruined another chance, as Guillermo Heredia, who got hit by a Pivetta pitch to reach base, was doubled off second when Alex Verdugo made a sliding catch on a Olson flare into left.
The Braves got a couple of runs off John Schreiber in the eighth, as back-to-back walks, a wild pitch, and a Michael Harris II single gave Atlanta its only non-homer runs of the day. They brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth, too, against the tastily-named Tyler Danish, but both Ambioris Tavarez (yes, he appeared in this game) and Drew Lugbauer struck out to end the game.
So, that wraps up the weekend Grapefruit League schedule. I mostly just want to see Kyle Wright in the rotation now to see whether he can get even more called strikeouts, because it’s hard to get that many called strikeouts in a game — there were only 188 games in which a pitcher had four or more called strikeouts in 121, only 51 games in which a pitcher had five or more, and only 14 in which a pitcher had six or more (three guys had games with seven).