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Teheran (9 K's) helps cool Phillies in opener

April 16, 2018

ATLANTA -- As the Braves move toward the possibility of filling their future rotations with many of the top young pitchers who have either already arrived or who are nearing a promotion to the Major League level, Julio Teheran seems determined to prove he is also still quite capable of

ATLANTA -- As the Braves move toward the possibility of filling their future rotations with many of the top young pitchers who have either already arrived or who are nearing a promotion to the Major League level, Julio Teheran seems determined to prove he is also still quite capable of being a valuable difference-maker.
Teheran certainly made his presence felt as he displayed the depth of his pitching arsenal and subdued a hot Phillies team while helping the Braves claim a 2-1 win Monday night at SunTrust Park. The veteran right-hander counted Odubel Herrera's first-inning home run as the only damage incurred during an efficient six-inning outing that equated to one of his finest starts in Atlanta's second-year ballpark.
Arodys Vizcaino's scoreless ninth inning netted the Braves their first save of the season and snapped the Phillies' six-game winning streak.

"With this game, I think I can be the guy," Teheran said. "I've been working and keeping my head up. I'm doing the best I can to be that guy."
Coming off Saturday's frustration-filled loss within which they squandered a five-run lead by allowing the Cubs to tally nine eighth-inning runs, the Braves got three scoreless innings from their bullpen to preserve the decisive run Ozzie Albies created when he aggressively scored on catcher Kurt Suzuki's fourth-inning sacrifice fly to center field.
"That was impressive," Teheran said of Albies' hustle. "We didn't think he was going to score. It was great. He's one of the fastest guys we have on the team. He knew we needed at least one run and he was going for it. That was good to see."

Teheran consistently got ahead of hitters and relied on his slider as he notched nine strikeouts -- his highest total since he punched out 12 Tigers during the Oct. 2, 2016, Turner Field finale. His ability to consistently spot both his four-seam and two-seam fastballs helped him record 23 called strikes -- his third-highest total since Statcast™ began recording the metric in '15.
"We were really just trying to keep them off balance by changing our patterns and sequences," Suzuki said. "We weren't really giving them any certain pitch to sit on at any certain time. If we knew they were kind of sitting on a pitch, we really just tried to expand the pitch, but not put it in a good spot to hit."
Teheran used his slider to record his first two strikeouts of the game, and he would have escaped the first inning in perfect fashion had home-plate umpire Joe West not called what appeared to be an outer-third heater a ball, which was thrown two pitches before Herrera drilled his solo homer over the center-field wall.

With the 27 sliders he threw, Teheran got 11 swinging strikes and four called strikes. He also showed confidence in both his changeup and curveball as he proved much more effective than he had while producing a 6.20 ERA in his previous 19 starts at SunTrust Park. This marked just the fourth time Teheran allowed one earned run or less while completing at least six innings at the ballpark which opened last year.
"Whenever I've got my slider and I'm able to make it a swing and a miss, that's a different game and you can see a different Julio," Teheran said. "It's been a long time since I struck out that many hitters."
The sparkplug: Albies began his fifth consecutive multi-hit game with a first-inning single that positioned Ender Inciarte to score on Freddie Freeman's double-play groundout. Albies added another single off Aaron Nola in the fourth inning.

Three batters later, Albies dashed towards the plate after Herrera and right fielder Aaron Altherr had some miscommunication on Suzuki's fly ball. Altherr caught the ball and made an accurate throw that catcher Jorge Alfaro dropped when he attempted to make a tag as Albies dove toward the plate. Albies raced from third base to home in 30.7 ft. per second. Anything better than 30.0 ft. per second is considered elite speed.
"I wasn't seeing the play happening because the third baseman was in front of me," Albies said. "But when I could tell the outfielders were confused, I said, 'I'm going.'"
A.J.'s escape: Instead of extending the eighth-inning woes that were endured by some of his bullpen mates on Saturday, A.J. Minter pitched around the consecutive one-out walks he issued in Monday's eighth inning. The left-handed reliever struck out J.P. Crawford and induced Maikel Franco's inning-ending groundout.

This marked the first time the Braves won this year without hitting a home run. They tallied just four hits, their second-lowest total of the season. The only win they notched last year while recording four hits or less came on June 30, when Mike Foltynewicz carried a no-hit bid into the ninth inning in Oakland vs. the A's.
The Braves entered Monday as the only team in the Majors without a save. This marked the first time since 1975 they did not notch their first save until the 15th game of the season.
"He was really pitching on the corners tonight. That is vintage Julio. When he is throwing that way, he's pretty tough." -- Suzuki, on Teheran
Foltynewicz will take the mound against Nick Pivetta when the Braves and Phillies resume their three-game series Tuesday at 7:35 p.m. ET. Foltynewicz surrendered a pair of homers when he earned a no-decision during Atlanta's March 30 loss to Philadelphia.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for