On Tuesday night, the Braves fell 10-2 to the Red Sox in a Spring Training game in North Port, FL. Let’s put it this way: this is the sort of game that makes you glad it’s a Spring Training game, if you actually bothered to watch the whole thing. Of course, the various performances herein weren’t necessarily players giving their best efforts to win, as it’s Spring Training and everyone’s got things to work on and try to implement during live game action, but still, this was a pretty brutal game after the first few innings.
But hey, those first few innings were fun. Jared Shuster cruised, throwing three frames where the only baserunner he allowed came on a lone walk. He had a 1/1 K/BB ratio through the first two frames, but then struck out the side in the third before departing. Shuster wasn’t blowing guys away, but he surprised batters with his secondaries and hit enough spots to get through his innings pretty easily.
The Braves got a few baserunners against Tanner Houck in the early innings, but their only runs came in the third. Marcell Ozuna drew a walk after an 0-2 check-swing call went his way (and Houck struggled with finding his rhythm due to pitch clock stuff), and then Kevin Pillar clocked a massive two-run homer to left. It was a no-doubter and apparently hit into the wind, so that’s pretty impressive.
Aside from those two things, though, it was mostly a mess for the Braves. Jesse Chavez came on after Shuster and had a reliever’s nightmare outing: falling behind, seeing eye singles, and then the big blow: Vaughn Grissom booting a tailor-made, routine double-play ball with men on first and second and none out. A sacrifice fly tied the game afterwards, and Chavez departed, having hit his pitch limit, for Victor Vodnik. The righty’s tough spring continued in this one, as Vodnik allowed a hit, got a forceout, and then left the inning after Sean Murphy gunned down an attempted steal of second.
Vodnik and Chavez were far from the only Atlanta relievers to struggle in this one. Nick Anderson allowed two runs and got a strikeout while showing zero fastball command, though in his defense, one run only scored because Sam Hilliard made a non-play on a fly ball that went for an RBI double. Brian Moran allowed a homer to lead off the eighth, and Danny Young foundered in the ninth, giving up three runs while, at one point, hitting consecutive batters. The only Atlanta reliever that did fine was Dylan Lee (infield single, nothing else); Seth Elledge had a scoreless inning but walked two while only striking out one.
The Braves’ offense was nonexistent aside from Pillar’s homer. Austin Riley had a perfect day with a down-the-line grounder double and two walks, but there’s not much else here. Both Grissom and Michael Harris II hit into double plays — Harris had an especially brutal one after back-to-back walks to start the sixth, as he hit a roller off the end of the bat on the first pitch he saw for a 5-4-3 slammer. The Braves managed just four hits and four walks — Hilliard had the only other extra-base hit, a double. Grissom went 0-for-3, and gave Braves fans a glimpse of their most plausible nightmares regarding shortstop in 2023 when booting that double play ball.
The Braves will play a more-exhibition-than-the-usual-exhibition game on Wednesday as they host the Dominican Republic’s World Baseball Classic team tomorrow.