Davidson, offense struggle to get going

September 27th, 2020

The Braves had one of those games where everything went wrong as they lost to the Red Sox, 8-2, at Truist Park in Atlanta on Saturday night.

First, there was left-hander Tucker Davidson, who made his Major League debut, and it was likely a start he’ll try to forget. He lasted 1 2/3 innings and allowed seven runs, although only two of those runs were earned.

That was the case because the Braves didn’t play good defense behind him. Third baseman Adeiny Hechavarría made a fielding error that should have been the second out in the second inning. It also didn’t help that the Braves couldn’t turn a double play off the bat of Rafael Devers the same inning.

Davidson, the No. 9 prospect in the Braves organization, according to MLB Pipeline, had a near-perfect first inning, striking out the first two hitters he faced, Alex Verdugo and Rafael Devers. After walking Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez flied out to end the inning.

“The first inning I was just trying to control the emotions and just settle down as much as I could,” Davidson said.

But then the tables turned. The Red Sox batted around the next inning. Davidson faced 10 batters and could only get two outs before he was pulled and Grant Dayton allowed a grand slam to Christian Vázquez.

“There were a lot of things that happened that were out of his control. [Davidson] was able to get ground balls and could have easily got out of the inning with only a couple of runs,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “We probably go late in the game with a 2-1 [deficit]. He will get another opportunity at some point in his career.”

Davidson said he was too excited and tried to do too much on the mound. He should have taken a step back and returned to the pitcher he was in the first inning.

“I’m frustrated for sure, but this isn’t my first bad outing and it’s not going to be my last,” Davidson said. “This game is incredibly hard. You see guys struggle each and every day. … This is a very challenging game.

“You have to keep going. You have to take it day by day and just keep pushing and pushing.”

Atlanta’s offense was no better. It collected only three hits against Red Sox right-hander Tanner Houck in his six innings on the mound. During the first four innings, Houck allowed just one hit. By the time he left the game, Houck had struck out 10 batters and allowed one run, a solo homer to Dansby Swanson that ended Houck’s streak of 15 innings without an earned run to begin his career.

“He is nasty,” Snitker said of Houck. “We haven’t seen him before. His ball moves a lot. He has a funky delivery that he kind of crossfires at you. He was effectively wild, but his stuff was live. He really did a really good job.”

Houck said his four-seamer was his best pitch against the Braves.

“I feel like I was commanding it really well today,” Houck said. “I felt like I had a lot of ride and pop on the ball. I went to it. They’re an aggressive, low-ball hitting team. Went out there and just kind of rode the fastball up and it worked out really well. Also playing off the two-seamer and off the slider as well.”