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Morton strikes out seven, McHugh and Minter appear as Braves drop Spring game to Rays, 5-1

An away-team lineup did little, but the pitching was okay

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Atlanta Braves Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Common questions for Braves fans this Spring Training have included “Where’s Collin McHugh?” and “Where’s A.J. Minter?” Well, both appeared in the same game tonight, so the answer at this point is, “What do you mean, where? Right there!” That’s probably the biggest takeaway from this game, which the Braves lost 5-1 to the hosting Rays at Tropicana Field.

Before McHugh and Minter pitcher, Charlie Morton got the start and collected seven strikeouts in 4 13 innings of work. That’s the good news. The less-good news is that he allowed a homer, issued a walk, and hit a batter. The homer was a three-run shot by Manny Margot on a grooved fastball, and scored two runners put on by a walk and plunking. Morton struck out two batters each in the third and fourth, and his last man faced to start the fifth, but also allowed a fourth run when Dansby Swanson Charlie Culberson singled on an 0-2 curveball to score Margot, who had doubled on another groovy fastball.

McHugh pitched two scoreless innings, allowing a lone hit and striking out a batter. A.J. Minter allowed a hit that ended up scoring as a result of a throwing error on a stolen base attempt, and picked up a strikeout of his own.

Offensively, very little happened for the Braves. Eli White had an uncharacteristically blah Spring Training 2023 game for him, going 1-for-4 with two strikeouts. Sam Hilliard kept up his strong Grapefruit League work by going 1-for-2 with a walk. Jordan Luplow struck out twice in three PAs; Marcell Ozuna went 0-for-4 with a GIDP. Orlando Arcia had a nice game in a pretty quiet Spring Training, 1-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout while starting at short. The sole run for the Braves scored in the ninth as Ignacio Alvarez doubled to start the frame, moved to third on a balk, and scored on a softly-rolled infield single by Cade Bunnell.

The Braves will visit the Red Sox tomorrow afternoon as Opening Day gets ever-nearer despite the unrelenting slew of exhibition baseball strewn all over the back half of March.

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