Teheran unable to find grip in chilly conditions
Braves starter issues 5 walks in 4 1/3 innings against red-hot Mets
NEW YORK -- Instead of delivering a lengthy start to save the Braves' recently exposed bullpen, Julio Teheran allowed himself to be affected by the chilly elements Thursday afternoon at Citi Field. The weather did not seem to bother the red-hot Mets, who ran their winning streak to 11 games with a 6-3 victory.
"I don't like to make excuses, but [the weather] was affecting me a little bit," Teheran said. "I couldn't find my grip."
With a windy 49-degree day serving as the backdrop, Teheran surrendered four runs in 4 1/3 innings and matched a career high by issuing five walks. Most of the damage was incurred within a 32-pitch first inning, during which he issued three walks before Daniel Murphy delivered a one-out, three-run double.
"He just didn't look right," Braves catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "Even in warmups, he was blowing on his hands more than you would normally see. He just didn't look comfortable out there. I don't know if it was his grip or what was going on. He just seemed a little bit off with that."
Teheran pitched around two more walks while throwing 32 pitches, again, in the third inning. But the inconsistent command proved detrimental when Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez felt more comfortable testing the bullpen than sticking with his prized starter, whose pitch count rose to 102 with one out in the fifth inning.
"You don't want to keep pushing him and put him in a position where he's going to hurt himself," Gonzalez said.
Instead, Teheran's ERA proved to be the only thing that was further damaged after the recently promoted Ian Thomas entered with one on and the game tied, 3-3. Thomas found the strike zone with just three of his first 11 pitches, before Sugar Ray Marimon -- Teheran's cousin -- began his otherwise effective 1 1/3-inning outing by issuing a bases-loaded walk to Eric Campbell.
"You'd like for your starters to go a little deeper in games, because if not, you're going to get exposed," Gonzalez said. "It doesn't matter who you are. Those middle relievers on all 30 teams are usually not your top guys."
Thomas and Marimon, who both began this season in the Minors, stand as the least attractive options in the Braves' bullpen, which has allowed 18 runs during the team's current 2-6 stretch. Some of the strain placed on this relief corps is due to the starting pitchers completing at least six innings in just six of 15 games.
"It's tough because you want to get through five innings and just battle," said Teheran, who had allowed a career-high four homers last week in Toronto. "As a starter, you want to complete as many innings as you can. When you don't, that is tough."
While verifying that the right knee he tweaked during an April 11 game against the Mets has not bothered him in his past two starts, Teheran said the struggles he encountered Thursday were similar to what he felt when he had trouble gripping the ball during a 3 1/3-inning effort in San Francisco last year and during Game 3 of the 2013 National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium.
"It was just one of those games that you have to throw away," Teheran said.