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Swanson's 3-hit night for naught in extras loss

Injuries to catchers could hinder Braves' lineup around slugger Freeman
March 30, 2018

ATLANTA -- Although Freddie Freeman has drawn a walk in more than half of his plate appearances through two games, the Braves have received enough production throughout their lineup to at least be in position to win each contest.But as the Braves look ahead and face the reality that opposing

ATLANTA -- Although Freddie Freeman has drawn a walk in more than half of his plate appearances through two games, the Braves have received enough production throughout their lineup to at least be in position to win each contest.
But as the Braves look ahead and face the reality that opposing teams will take advantage of any opportunity to prevent Freeman from beating them, there is certainly reason to be concerned about the possibility that their power-hungry lineup might now be without catchers Tyler Flowers and Kurt Suzuki for an extended period.
After seeing a replay reversal erase the potential winning run in the 5-4, 11-inning loss against the Phillies on Friday night at SunTrust Park, the Braves did not know the status of Suzuki, who exited soon after his right hand was struck by a Nick Pivetta pitch in the fourth inning.
• Flowers put on DL; Suzuki exits after HBP

But with Flowers staring at the possibility of missing at least a month due to an oblique strain, the Braves already know they are going to have to get consistent production from Thursday's hero Nick Markakis and Preston Tucker, who has already recorded a pair of game-tying eighth-inning singles while keeping left field warm for prospectRonald Acuna Jr.
"They're going to have to come up big for us, because [Freeman drawing a plethora of walks] is a distinct possibility," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "We knew that coming in."

Freeman homered in the sixth inning of Thursday's Opening Day win, but he has also drawn six walks through his first 10 plate appearances. One of those was the intentional free pass he received ahead of the Opening Day walk-off homer hit by Markakis, who has gone 2-for-9 and drawn a walk in two games as the cleanup hitter.
"There have been occasions where they're pitching around him, but Freddie is putting up some really good at-bats," Tucker said. "The first couple games we've done a good job of putting up some runs with guys in scoring position."
Down 4-3, Freeman drew a walk to begin the eighth for the Braves, and he raced to third base when a shifted Phillies defense left the bag unmanned on Markakis' chopper in front of the plate. The aggressive and cerebral baserunning put him in position to score on Tucker's game-tying single.
Tucker was replaced by Peter Bourjos, who displayed his speed as he attempted to score from first on a Dansby Swanson double -- the shortstop's third hit of the night. Bourjos was ruled safe as he slid across the plate, but what would have been the go-ahead run was erased when a replay review showed his right foot slid over the plate as Phillies catcher Andrew Knapp applied the tag.
"It was just a freak thing," Snitker said. "He's giving it everything he's got. But it was pretty visible [he was out]."
"It's just baseball, right?" Swanson said. "It's like every sport is a game of inches. It's a shame it didn't go our way."

Freeman was given a chance to swing the bat with one out and nobody on in the 10th inning, but he struck out against Phillies reliever Andrew Hutchison. Markakis followed with a nine-pitch walk, but veteran catcher Chris Stewart, who was inserted into the fifth hole after Suzuki exited, grounded out to end the inning.
Game winner: After Phillies outfielder Nick Williams delivered a two-out single off reliever Jose Ramirez in the sixth, the Braves' bullpen kept Philadelphia scoreless until Carlos Santana followed singles by J.P. Crawford and Cesar Hernandez with a game-winning sacrifice fly off Shane Carle.
Misplaced heater:Mike Foltynewicz's impressive five-inning effort included seven strikeouts but was marred by a pair of solo home runs and a catcher's interference that led to an unearned run in the third. Foltynewicz struck out five of the first seven batters faced, but within this span he delivered a down-the-middle fastball that Rhys Hoskins delivered over the left-field wall. Santana then drilled his first homer for the Phillies off a hanging curveball in the fifth. He allowed three runs, two of which were earned.
"I thought [Foltynewicz] was really good," Snitker said. "I thought he did a great job. His stuff was live. It was a pretty good outing. He got the one curveball to Santana, but he was really good."

"That was big for me. I wanted to put us back in the ballgame. I did that. So, hopefully, I'll run into a couple more of those opportunities and do the same thing." -- Tucker, on his eighth-inning single that tied the game and forced extras
Freeman's six walks are the most drawn by a Braves player through the first two games of a season dating back to 1908. The last Major Leaguer to draw this many walks through two games was the Phillies' Von Hayes in '90.
After Pivetta collided with on-deck batter Ozzie Albies while attempting to secure Hoskins' high throw from left field in the third inning, the Phillies contested that Ryan Flaherty left third base too soon on Ender Inciarte's game-tying sacrifice fly. The Phillies clubhouse technology wasn't working, though, and manager Gabe Kapler wasn't granted his request for a crew chief review. The review showed Flaherty left on time, but the Phillies weren't charged with a challenge.
• Odd play results in Braves sac fly, Phillies review

Brandon McCarthy will make his Atlanta debut when the Braves and Phillies conclude their three-game series on Saturday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Acquired from the Dodgers in December, McCarthy will be looking to bounce back from what was a third straight injury-marred season.
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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for since 2001.