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'Folty' gets some confidence back in loss

MLB.com @mlbbowman

ATLANTA -- Mike Foltynewicz wasn't as impressive or efficient as he was in many of his starts in the season's first four months, when he was assuming the appearance of a frontline starter.

But given the struggles the Braves' hurler has endured over the past few weeks, it was easy to understand why he was at least encouraged about minimizing the damage during the stress-filled outing he had in Sunday afternoon's 3-0 loss to the Rockies at SunTrust Park.

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ATLANTA -- Mike Foltynewicz wasn't as impressive or efficient as he was in many of his starts in the season's first four months, when he was assuming the appearance of a frontline starter.

But given the struggles the Braves' hurler has endured over the past few weeks, it was easy to understand why he was at least encouraged about minimizing the damage during the stress-filled outing he had in Sunday afternoon's 3-0 loss to the Rockies at SunTrust Park.

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"I just think I slowed things down a lot more today when I got in trouble, instead of going up there and getting upset and tossing without thinking about where I'm throwing," Foltynewicz said. "I just beared down a little bit and focused on the pitch at hand. It was pretty good, but when you throw 60 pitches [over] two innings, you've got to figure something else out."

Foltynewicz's preseason goal to handle his emotions more effectively was realized early, as he allowed three earned runs or fewer in 16 of his first 19 starts. But his body language changed and his confidence was admittedly shaken after he allowed at least five runs in four of the five starts that preceded this matchup against the Rockies, who had rocked him for eight earned runs over 3 1/3 innings on Aug. 16 at Coors Field.

Instead of allowing these recent frustrations to continue adversely affecting him, Foltynewicz proved he could remain composed Sunday. Yeah, he needed 75 pitches to complete the first three innings and exited after totaling 97 pitches through five. But he allowed just one run, retired the final seven batters faced and did not allow a third-inning threat to prove disastrous.

"It could have gone the other way real quick, but to his credit, he hung in there, kept fighting and kept us in the game," Braves manger Brian Snitker said.

Foltynewicz surrendered Trevor Story's one-out RBI double in the second inning and then began the third by issuing a four-pitch walk to Charlie Blackmon. DJ LeMahieu followed with a single to right and Matt Adams raced into left-center field to grab Nolan Arenado's fly ball. The Braves' right-hander then sandwiched strikeouts of Gerardo Parra and Carlos Gonzalez around Mark Reynolds' five-pitch walk.

Video: COL@ATL: 'Folty' gets out of jam in the 3rd

"This month, you saw how things turned out, and it could have easily gone that way again during that inning, but the defense stepped up big, and I just said, 'These guys aren't going to score, and I'm going to give my team a chance to win,'" said Foltynewicz. "Yeah, that made my confidence jump up good there."

Foltynewicz's recent struggles were significantly influenced by his inability to put hitters away with either of his breaking pitches as frequently as he did in the first four months. He had both pitches working when he notched a career-best 11 strikeouts against the Marlins on Aug. 6. But consistency has continued to elude the highly talented hurler, who has at least now restored some of his confidence.

"He has great stuff, everybody knows that," Braves catcher Kurt Suzuki said. "Now he's just putting it all together."

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

Atlanta Braves, Mike Foltynewicz