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Anderson leaves early but Duvall, d’Arnaud help Braves top Rays, 8-2

Ian Anderson labored and left with a toe blister, but the offense cruised to a victory

Atlanta Braves v Minnesota Twins Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

Ian Anderson treaded some rough waters in his final tune-up before the regular season begins and ended up leaving with a blister on his big toe in a precautionary move, but no matter — the bats came alive and crushed the Rays in Port Charlotte by an 8-2 final score.

Anderson pitched three innings, which were marked mostly by hitters on both teams wanting to get the show on the road and swinging early in the count. In his three frames, he struck out one, walked one, and allowed a solo homer to Mike Zunino on a first-pitch breaker that was hit on a screaming line into the left-field corner. Beyond that, the Rays swung very early, and Anderson got a bunch of mediocre flyouts along with allowing a couple of singles (one a bunt single). No harm, few fouls, hopefully his big toe gets less gross by his scheduled start on Sunday (and if it doesn’t, he can just swap places with Huascar Ynoa or something).

The Braves, meanwhile, really wanted this game to speed by, because they swung at everything. They finished the game with just five strikeouts and three walks, and of those eight, half came in the last inning, when it was all fill-ins from minor-league camp. That doesn’t mean they didn’t find some rewards for swinging early, though. Through three innings, all they had to show for it was an Austin Riley double. But, in the fourth, Matt Olson had an infield single, Riley got plunked, and after a strikeout-on-a-wild-pitch, Adam Duvall singled on a grounder that rolled past a drawn-in infield to tie the game. An RBI groundout by Eddie Rosario gave the Braves a lead and chased Rays starter Josh Fleming.

Olson, Riley, and Duvall combined to plate two more runs in the sixth (double on a grounder down the line, opposite-field liner single, another grounder single through the infield). Travis d’Arnaud then chipped in with an absolute massive blast that he hit out of the confines of the “stadium,” clearing the fence behind the grassy outfield berm.

(Haha, the Tweet says “doubter.”)

The Braves capped the scoring in the ninth with a messy inning that featured two walks, a bloop single, and Jordan Cowan driving in two with a bases-loaded single. The Harrises Trey and Michael struck out to end the hitting side of the ledger.

On the pitching side, the Braves threw Justin Yeager, Tyler Matzek, Collin McHugh, Jake McSteen, and Troy Bacon. The only run that crew gave up in relief of Anderson was another solo homer yielded by Bacon with two outs in the ninth. Matzek worked around a leadoff double, McHugh struck out a farmhand that spent 2021 in complex ball with a sub-70 curveball (what a meanie), and a good time was pretty much had by all.

Matt Olson finished the day 3-for-4 with a double; Austin Riley was a perfect 2-for-2 with a walk.

The Braves wrap up their Spring Training slate with a game in North Port against the Rays tomorrow, and after that, they’ll enjoy an off-day before the real reason kicks off. Exciting times.

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