ATLANTA -- Though the eyes might have been fatigued, there was still a genuine sense of excitement felt in the Braves’ clubhouse after Brian McCann backed Julio Teheran's strong start and extended the splendor of his homecoming with a walk-off single that capped a 1-0 win over the Marlins during
ATLANTA -- Though the eyes might have been fatigued, there was still a genuine sense of excitement felt in the Braves’ clubhouse after Brian McCann backed Julio Teheran's strong start and extended the splendor of his homecoming with a walk-off single that capped a 1-0 win over the Marlins during the wee hours of Saturday morning at SunTrust Park.
“A win like this to start a series off, the way our pitchers pitched tonight, they got us this win tonight,” said McCann, who has recorded two walk-off hits since returning to his hometown Braves this year.
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McCann ended Jordan Yamamoto’s no-hit bid with a two-out fifth-inning single and then delivered the game-winning hit at 12:49 a.m. ET, nearly 40 minutes after the resumption of the game halted at the start of the eighth by a two-hour, 28-minute rain delay.
Freddie Freeman sparked the ninth inning with an opposite-field double off Jose Quijada. After sandwiching a pair of intentional walks around a Nick Markakis groundout, the Marlins opted to defend McCann with five infielders. The 35-year-old catcher responded by lining Quijada’s first-pitch, outside fastball to shallow left field.
“You just knew he’s going to get a hit in that situation,” Freeman said. “He’s the ultimate professional. I thought he was going to hit a grand slam to be honest with you. I guess as an offense we weren’t ready to hit on Friday. We just needed Saturday to come.”
Teheran’s six scoreless innings combated the strong effort by Yamamoto, who surrendered just two hits over six shutout frames against the potent offense that has helped the Braves gain a 6 1/2-game lead in the National League East standings.
The Braves have gone 9-1 against the Marlins and a combined 12-12 versus their other NL East opponents. The third-place Nationals have experienced similar success, going 10-3 against Miami and 15-14 versus other division rivals. But the Phillies have seemingly squandered opportunities while losing seven of 13 to the last-place Marlins.
Teheran extended his scoreless-innings streak to 18 against Miami this season. He has a 5.89 ERA in the four starts made against other NL East opponents.
“I saw a little more aggression out of Julio,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It was crisper, and it played.”
While a homer-happy offense has bolstered the Braves’ bid to defend their division crown, their hope to win a postseason series for the first time since 2001 will be most significantly influenced by their attempt to upgrade their pitching staff before the July 31 Trade Deadline.
Though the Braves signed Dallas Keuchel a month ago, adding another starter might be more important than satisfying the desire to also upgrade the bullpen. Keuchel and Mike Soroka would serve as the starters for the first two games of a postseason series. But beyond these two hurlers, the rotation is filled with uncertainty.
Mike Foltynewicz and Kevin Gausman are currently trying to right themselves while facing Minor League opponents. If either of these veterans makes necessary adjustments, they’re both capable of strengthening the rotation. But for now, neither can be considered a better candidate than Bryse Wilson, who impressed against the Phillies on Wednesday, or Kyle Wright, who has been strong in three of his past four starts for Triple-A Gwinnett.
As the Braves continue to evaluate their internal options and the trade market, they’ll hope to see more development from Max Fried and more consistency from Teheran, who posted a 0.81 ERA over eight starts from May 5-June 13 and then allowed 15 earned runs over 11 1/3 innings spanning the three starts that followed.
Teheran might not be the kind of starter the Braves could comfortably place in their postseason rotation. But if he continues to command his fastball as consistently as he did in this latest outing, he certainly has the potential to provide some valuable stability to the back end of the rotation.
“He’s reliable,” Snitker said. “You know he’s going to prepare and be ready. He’s going to show up and make his starts. He’s done it for years. He’ll go through some rough spots, but he competes and he cares. He’s a conscientious guy who works to get better.”
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.