Kyle Wright made his spring debut and retired Yandy Diaz and Wander Franco before allowing a solo home run to Brandon Lowe on a 3-0 pitch. He then allowed a single to Harold Ramirez, but got Manuel Margot to ground out to avoid any more damage.
Wright retired Francisco Mejia on a grounder to start the second before Taylor Walls sent a ground ball off the third base bag for a double. Jose Siri followed with a single to bring home Walls to push Tampa’s lead to 2-0. Wright got Charlie Culberson to fly out to Eddie Rosario in left, but then left a breaking ball over the inner part of the plate that Diaz sent out to left for a two-run home run to make it 4-0.
The Braves answered back in the second against Rays starter Zach Eflin. Marcell Ozuna reached on an infield single and moved up to second on a throwing error. Rosario then doubled to the base of the wall in right center in his first trip to the plate since returning from the World Baseball Classic. Ozuna inexplicably didn’t score on the play, putting runners at second and third. Kevin Pillar followed with a grounder to first that scored Ozuna to make it 4-1. Grissom then brought home Rosario with a single to right to cut the deficit to 4-2.
Wright came out to start the third and retired Lowe and Ramirez for the first two outs. He then ran the count to 2-2 against Manuel Margot before Brian Snitker emerged from the dugout and summoned Danny Young from the bullpen. Wright didn’t appear to be injured and was likely on a hard pitch count, but did see a velocity drop at the end of his outing.
Wright induced a pair of groundouts and will exit with a 2-2 count in the third. No trainer. He's probably fine. But his final three fastballs were 91, 92 and 92.— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) March 20, 2023
Wright allowed five hits and four runs in 2 2/3 innings during his debut. He surrendered two home runs and didn’t record a walk or a strikeout.
The Braves added another run in the third as Olson launched his sixth home run of the spring to cut the deficit to 4-3.
Matt Olson now leads MLB with six home runs this spring! pic.twitter.com/SrcndvN5tH— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) March 20, 2023
However, the Rays got that run right back in the fourth when Walls took Nick Anderson deep on an 0-2 meatball to make it 5-3.
Atlanta’s offense got going again in the fourth. Ozuna singled to start the inning. Eflin then got Rosario to fly out and exited the game in favor of Trevor Kelley. Pillar flew out for the second out, fouling off a bunch of pitches right down the left-field line and making a disgruntled Ozuna run the bases, before Grissom blooped in a single that the shortstop lost in the sun. The throw in got away and the Rays botched the rundown while Ozuna inexplicably didn’t score again.
Ozzie Albies then finally brought Ozuna home with a single to right to make it 5-4. Olson followed with another single that scored Grissom to tie the game.
AJ Smith-Shawver made his first appearance of the spring in the fifth. He allowed a single to Diaz to start the inning, but he was erased as Franco bounced to Grissom, who stepped on the bag at second at the same time he snagged the ball and then threw to first to complete the double play. Lowe worked a two-out walk, but Ramirez grounded out to end the inning.
Smith-Shawver returned to start the sixth and allowed a single and a walk, but struck out the side.
Smith-Shawver struggled with his command a bit during the second inning but was able to rein it in and locate very well in striking out the last two batters. FB was really jumping and he works so well vertically. Three strikeouts that inning, two on the slider one of the fastball— Garrett Spain (@BravesMILB) March 20, 2023
Kirby Yates issued a leadoff walk to start the seventh, but added a strikeout and then got Tristan Gray to bounce into a double play to end the frame. Joe Jimenez entered in the eighth and allowed back-to-back singles to start his inning, but then got Nick Dini to bounce into a 5-4-3 double play. It was the fifth twin killing for the Braves in the game. Jimenez then struck out Junior Caminero to keep the game tied.
Stephen Paolini led off the eighth with a double to right and then advanced to third on an infield single by Grissom. Braden Shewmake then brought home Paolini with a sacrifice fly to give the Braves their first lead of the day.
A.J. Minter allowed a double to Shane Sasaki to start the ninth. After a flyout, Evan Edwards singled off Minter’s glove at the mound. Minter came back and struck out Carson Williams for the second out and then got Tristan Gray to fly out to end the game.
Grissom, who is battling with Shewmake for the Opening Day shortstop job, finished with three hits, stole a base and looked slick defensively, making a few harder-than-routine plays without hesitating or stumbling. Olson finished with two hits and leads the majors with six spring homers. Albies added two more hits to his total in the win.
The Braves will enjoy their final off day of the spring Tuesday before returning to action against the Tigers Wednesday, where Michael Soroka is scheduled to make his spring debut.