Pitching in California vexing for Teheran
Righty allows five runs in 3 1/3 innings, shortest start of career
SAN FRANCISCO -- Although it appeared he might have been dealing with a blister or some other finger ailment, Julio Teheran exited one of the most frustrating outings of his young career baffled by his inability to get a grip on the baseball in the California air.
It was a battle from the start for Teheran, who labored through a career-short 3 1/3-inning effort that set the tone for the Giants to fittingly extend their recent dominance of the Braves with Wednesday afternoon's decisive 10-4 win at AT&T Park.
"Every time I get in this weather, I have a hard time," Teheran said. "I'm still trying to find a way to get through it."
A nice 79-degree, humidity-free day in San Francisco proved to be problematic for Teheran, who battled through a 41-pitch first inning and then gave way to Alex Wood after some misfortune added to his frustrations in the fourth inning.
Pablo Sandoval's fourth-inning RBI single chased Teheran and proved decisive for the Giants, who won five of six during this year's season series against the Braves. The 10 runs surrendered during this series finale was a season high for Atlanta.
"They're a good team," said Chris Johnson, who drove in half of Atlanta's runs with a pair of RBI doubles. "I knew they were a good team before we played them at home. Their pitching staff is really good. They're really deep and their offense, top to bottom, is pretty good."
As he struggled to get a grip every time a new ball was brought into the game, Teheran was reminded of the struggles he had when he recorded just 11 outs before exiting his only career postseason start in Game 3 of last year's National League Division Series against the Dodgers. Coincidently, that had been the most recent start he had made in California before Wednesday.
Despite trying to aid his grip with a mixture of rosin and sweat, Teheran said the baseball consistently felt dry in his hand. He quickly sent Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez and assistant athletic trainer Jim Lovell back to the dugout after they came to the mound in the first inning to see if he was dealing with a blister.
"He just had a tough time getting a grip on the ball," Gonzalez said. "I don't know if it was the type of humidity or what. He just couldn't get a grip."
Given that they have spent most of this season starving to get satisfactory offensive support, this was not a good day for a Braves starting pitcher to allow seven hits and five runs -- four earned -- while matching a career-high five walks.
Teheran had allowed two earned runs or fewer in seven of his previous eight starts. Solo home runs had accounted for each of the five runs he had surrendered in the 39 innings that preceded this ugly outing. But it did not take long to realize this day would be much different for the 23-year-old right-hander, who had issued more than two walks in just one of his previous outings this year.
"When you don't have confidence, you don't want to make a mistake," Teheran said. "I tried to battle with my fastball. I did my best."
Coming off Tuesday night's 5-0 win, it appeared the Braves were in good position when Freddie Freeman and Johnson produced RBI doubles off Madison Bumgarner before Teheran had thrown his first pitch. But that lead proved to be short-lived for Atlanta, which had been 14-0 when scoring first.
Teheran got ahead of the first two batters he faced with an 0-2 count, but found himself facing a 2-0 deficit when Hunter Pence followed Gregor Blanco's leadoff walk with a two-run home run. The Giants added two more hits, including Brandon Crawford's RBI single, and drew two more walks before Bumgarner struck out with the bases loaded to end the three-run first.
A pair of walks and Evan Gattis' errant attempt to prevent Blanco from stealing third base led to another Giants run in the second inning. Teheran got through the third inning unscathed and might have done so again in the fourth had Gattis gotten to Buster Posey's popup behind the plate. Posey then dropped an opposite-field single in front of Ryan Doumit, and Sandoval followed by beating a defensive shift with the decisive single he sent through the infield's left side.
Bumgarner was fortunate to receive those offensive contributions on a day when he allowed four earned runs and seven hits in five innings. The Giants southpaw found himself pushed against the ropes when he surrendered three extra-base hits, including Andrelton Simmons' game-tying triple in the fourth.
The Braves' hopes to threaten again in the fifth inning were weakened when second-base umpire Ron Kulpa ruled that Brandon Hicks held on to the baseball long enough to force out Tyler Pastornicky at second base. Gonzalez rushed onto the field and was receiving signals from his bench to challenge the play. But Kulpa and crew chief Dana DeMuth told the Braves skipper the transfer play was not reviewable.
It was that kind of day for the Braves, who saw Wood warm up during three of the first four innings before allowing three runs in 2 2/3 innings. He surrendered a Michael Morse home run in the sixth inning, and Crawford dinged David Carpenter with a two-run homer in the eighth inning.
The Giants ended up hitting 11 home runs in 52 innings against the Braves. Atlanta's pitching staff has surrendered just 16 home runs in the other 299 2/3 innings completed this year.
"I thought our offense did a nice job getting us back in it," Gonzalez said. "But the game just got a little out of hand there in the middle innings."