Rain pushes Wood to Sunday start
Lefty throws just two pitches in opener in Colorado before lengthy delay
DENVER -- Unlike many of his Braves teammates, Alex Wood had not looked at the weather radar before Thursday night's game at Coors Field. But after he was forced to return to the clubhouse after throwing just two pitches during the first inning of a 5-3 loss to the Rockies, the southpaw got a glimpse of the radar and wondered why the game had started less than 10 minutes before the arrival of a storm that caused a lengthy delay.
"After coming back inside and seeing what the radar was looking like going into game time, I was pretty surprised they wanted to start that game," said Wood, who will now start Sunday's series finale after being affected by this unusual turn of events.
Once play resumed after a two-hour, six-minute delay, Wood and Rockies starting pitcher Kyle Kendrick obviously could not return. Thus, it turned into a bullpen game, during which the Braves were fortunate to only have to use four relievers. The Rockies used eight different pitchers, but limited Atlanta's offense to the three runs tallied in the fifth inning.
"It was a Spring Training game or a bullpen game," Braves utility man Kelly Johnson said. "Those happen. You're going to run into those. You take everything into account and that was just a weird night. It's not really a lot of fun."
Wood did not seem bothered by the fact that he will now have to alter his normal preparations before taking the mound again in the series finale. Sunday's scheduled starter Manny Banuelos will be available to serve as a long reliever on Saturday or Sunday.
With Wood's start wasted on Thursday, the Braves handed the ball to Jake Brigham, the 27-year-old right-hander who is three weeks removed from pitching at the Double-A level. Brigham surrendered a pair of runs during both of the first two innings, but his ability to keep things respectable over four innings could prove beneficial to the Braves' bullpen over the remainder of the series.
Mike Foltynewicz extended this trend and made the Braves even more thankful they recalled him from Triple-A Gwinnett earlier this week to serve as an extra reliever. Foltynewicz surrendered three hits, including two doubles, before recording his first out. But he struck out four of the final six batters he faced and ate two innings.
A steady rain fell throughout most of this night, and Braves catcher A.J. Pierzynski expressed his frustration to crew chief Jeff Kellogg after he grounded out in his final at-bat. But the conditions and questionable decision to begin the game with that much rain in the area made things uncomfortable fot both teams.
"Other than a Major League manager, I think the weatherman or the people making the decision are the only people that get second-guessed more than I do," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "It was a situation there where it was just a popup shower and it got us."