Teheran outpitched as Braves fall to Brewers
Offense stifled at Miller Park; righty's mistakes in fourth prove costly
MILWAUKEE -- If the Spring Training injuries that depleted their starting rotation weren't enough, the way the regular season started in Milwaukee has to have the Braves wondering who is conspiring against their bid to defend their National League East title.
Yovani Gallardo extended Milwaukee's mastery of Atlanta's offense and Julio Teheran paid for the mistakes he made during a two-run fourth inning that enabled the Brewers to celebrate a 2-0 Opening Day win over the Braves on Monday afternoon at Miller Park.
"There was just one bad inning that I couldn't get out of," said Teheran, who saw his first career Opening Day start marred by Aramis Ramirez's decisive two-run double.
From a historical perspective, this marked the first time the Braves opened a season in Milwaukee since it last served as their home city in 1965. But as Gallardo completed six strong innings, the setting simply became one where recent history was once again rudely repeated.
The Braves have been shut out in five of the seven games against the Brewers dating back to last year. This unsettling span has come within another that has seen Atlanta lose nine of the past 10 games played in Milwaukee.
"We as players don't look too much into that," Braves second baseman Dan Uggla said. "I had no idea they had done that to us. We look at every game like we're going to go out and win it. We don't look at what happened last year or the day before. You go out and try to win the game."
With two veterans -- Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy -- recovering from season-ending elbow surgeries and three more -- Ervin Santana, Mike Minor and Gavin Floyd -- set to debut over the next couple of weeks, the Braves recognize the importance of the games started by Teheran and Alex Wood, who will attempt to turn the tide when he starts Tuesday night's game against the Brewers.
Unfortunately for Teheran, he struggled with his command and did not get a feel for his two-seam fastball until the latter portion of his six-inning effort, during which he surrendered seven hits and two earned runs. Gallardo proved to be more effective as he limited the Braves to four hits over the six scoreless he completed.
"[Teheran] battled," Braves third baseman Chris Johnson said. "He didn't have his stuff today, and he only gave up two runs. He's still a pretty good pitcher. He battled his butt off when guys got in scoring position and made a good pitch and got out of some jams."
Teheran benefited from Carlos Gomez's baserunning blunder in the first inning and then got Lyle Overbay to line into an inning-ending double play with two on in the second. But Teheran's fortune evaporated after he issued Jean Segura a four-pitch walk to begin the bottom of the fourth.
Segura advanced to third base on Ryan Braun's single and then trotted home when Ramirez laced his two-run double. After the game, Braves catcher Evan Gattis questioned his decision to call for the inside fastball that Ramirez laced down the left-field line.
"It was a bad inning," Teheran said. "I didn't want to walk the leadoff hitter. The pitch [to Ramirez] was the one I wanted to make. I know it was inside, and he just got me on that one."
Gallardo stranded a runner at second base during each of the first two innings and then found a groove as he surrendered two hits over his final four frames. He did not allow a baserunner to reach third base until Johnson doubled with one out in the sixth inning and then advanced on a Justin Upton groundout.
The Braves had some early chances as Jason Heyward began the game with a single and Gallardo fell behind three of the four batters he faced in the first. But B.J. Upton helped Gallardo when he was unable to check his swing on what would have been ball four. Had that walk been drawn, Atlanta would have had runners at first and second with none out in the opening inning. The Braves center fielder struck out in the third inning and again to end the fifth inning with runners at first and second base.
Uggla hit the ball hard in his first three at-bats and was a bad hop away from recording a single in the ninth.
"It's Opening Day," Uggla said. "Everybody has some jitters. I'm sure [Gallardo] did, too. You're not human if you don't. He looked a little whatever in the first inning. He was falling behind some hitters. He fell into a nice little groove and made some pitches. We were just a knock away. We never got anything going today."
One of the few bright spots for the Braves came when Fredi Gonzalez became the first manager to issue a challenge that led to an overturned call courtesy of Major League Baseball's expanded replay system. First-base umpire Greg Gibson ruled Braun beat Johnson's throw to first base in the bottom of the sixth inning, and upon replay, umpires agreed with Gonzalez.
The Brewers completed their season-opening victory when Francisco Rodriguez accepted the closing duties and worked a scoreless ninth inning, during which he breathed a sigh of relief when Freddie Freeman's long fly ball barely stayed to the right of the right-field foul pole.
"You know all the incidents we went through last year, a lot of controversy," Rodriguez said. "A lot of our key players, they weren't healthy at all. Now, this year is a different year, and we're going to put that behind. Our expectations are really high. ... If the big boys stay healthy, it's going to be a fun year for us."