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Braves embody Cox's fight in comeback win

@mlbbowman
April 4, 2019

ATLANTA -- With Bobby Cox’s health the focus of much of their attention on Wednesday, it was fitting the Braves tallied six runs to claim their first comeback win of the season, courtesy of the sixth spot in their lineup -- as the organization commemorated Cox by retiring No. 6

ATLANTA -- With Bobby Cox’s health the focus of much of their attention on Wednesday, it was fitting the Braves tallied six runs to claim their first comeback win of the season, courtesy of the sixth spot in their lineup -- as the organization commemorated Cox by retiring No. 6 in 2011.

Johan Camargo's go-ahead three-run double highlighted a four-run eighth inning rally that carried the Braves to a spirited 6-4 win over the Cubs Wednesday night. The victory brought joy at the end of a day during which the organization’s beloved No. 6 garnered the thoughts and prayers of countless members of the baseball world.

“When the game is over, that’s the first thing you kind of think about, ‘that’s for Bobby’,” Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman said. “You know Bobby is smiling there for that one. That will give him something that will hopefully uplift him tonight and help him recover a little quicker.”

With Cox at a nearby hospital recovering from the stroke he suffered Tuesday, the Braves showed they still have some of the fighting spirit that helped them claim a National League-high 20 last-at-bat wins during last year’s magical division-winning season. Their bullpen squandered a one-run advantage in the sixth inning, but Camargo erased a two-run deficit when he followed Steve Cishek’s three consecutive walks by greeting Randy Rosario with a double to the right-center-field gap.

“We’re going to be in those close games like that all season long, so we’ve got to make the most of our opportunities, take advantage and come away with a win,” said Camargo, who made his first start of the season, playing left field.

After Freeman, Ronald Acuna Jr. and Nick Markakis drew three consecutive walks within a span of 15 Cishek pitches to begin the eighth, Camargo snapped the 0-for-7 skid he was in to open this season. The versatile utility player hit .339 (39-for-115) and produced a 1.023 OPS with runners in scoring position last year. The only NL player to produce a better OPS in those situations was Reds first baseman Joey Votto (1.028).

“When Johan hit that double I was thinking, ‘same thing, just a different year,’” Freeman said. “As we were walking up the steps after the game, [Braves manager Brian Snitker] says, ‘I’ve seen that before. It just kind of doesn’t surprise me anymore with this team. We just keep coming back, no matter what the score.'”

Teheran’s turnaround

Julio Teheran appeared to be in trouble when he retired just four of the first 10 batters he faced in the first two innings. Six of the eight balls put in play during this stretch had an exit velocity above 98 mph. But he surrendered just one run during this span, and limited the Cubs to only one more hit over his final three innings on the mound. The veteran hurler struck out seven of the final 13 hitters faced and didn’t allow a Chicago hitter to produce an exit velocity above 90 mph after the second frame.

The key to Teheran’s success was once again finding comfort in his slider. He used the pitch just 13 times through the first four innings, but generated three whiffs with it during the fifth, which concluded with consecutive strikeouts of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez.

“The slider is a feel pitch, and I didn’t have it,” Teheran said. “I didn’t have my best stuff, but as the game was going, I feel like I was going better.”

Ozzie at the top

With the Braves facing a left-handed starter for the first time this season, Ozzie Albies took advantage to show what he can do as a leadoff hitter. The All-Star second baseman homered in the third inning to highlight a three-hit night that improved his batting average to .500 (9-for-18) through the season’s first five games.

Albies should feel encouraged after going 5-for-14 with two doubles against right-handed pitchers thus far. Hitting from the right side has never been a concern for the switch-hitting infielder. He has hit .349 with a .943 OPS against left-handed pitchers since the start of 2018.

“If Ozzie is doing that at the top of the lineup, that is going to be tough for everybody,” Freeman said. “Every time he steps in the box, you think he’s going to get an extra-base hit.”

Brief scare

When Dansby Swanson hit an opposite-field homer to account for the game’s first run in the third, it was an opportunity to think about how much he has benefited from the health of his left wrist, which was surgically repaired in November. But the shortstop, who has two homers in 14 at-bats, had a scare when his left wrist turned awkwardly when attempting to make a diving tag in the sixth inning. He remained in the game and experienced no problems during his final two plate appearances, including a sacrifice fly in the eighth.

“I’m seriously fine,” Swanson said. “It just scared me at first. I’ve dealt with [wrist discomfort] enough.”

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.