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Foltynewicz shows progress in return to Braves

Starter allows 2 runs, strikes out 8 over 6 innings vs. Orioles

BALTIMORE -- The Braves optioned right-handed pitcher Mike Foltynewicz to Triple-A Gwinnett on July 12 to work on his stuff and focus on becoming a power pitcher. His spot start for Atlanta on Wednesday was a strong step in the right direction.

After being called up on from Gwinnett on Wednesday to replace an injured Manny Banuelos, Foltynewicz tossed six innings, giving up six hits, two runs, two walks and a pair of solo home runs while striking out a career-high tying eight batters in Atlanta's 2-0 loss in Baltimore.

"There were a couple positives out there," Foltynewicz said. "Only the first and sixth inning I had a clean inning. In between the innings we had some big hitters up there with runners on base so I'm glad I got out of there with two runs. I'll take two solo shots any day over that."

The right-hander returned to the Braves for his third stint with the team, this time as a starter. Foltynewicz started nine games from May 1-June 14, posting a 3-2 record and 5.19 ERA before getting optioned back down to Gwinnett.

He returned to the Braves on July 7 as a reliever and appeared in three games, giving up two earned runs in 2 2/3 innings pitched. Foltynewicz was then optioned again in order to work on perfecting his fastball and developing a split finger.

When Banuelos was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday with left elbow inflammation, the right-hander got a chance to show his progress and impressed.

"He pitched great," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He threw some split-fingers that we wanted him to go down to the Minor Leagues and work on. You saw some of it there at tonight's game."

Foltynewicz's only mistakes of the night came in the third and fourth inning when he gave up solo home runs to Jonathan Schoop and another to J.J. Hardy, whose ball barely left the park.

"I knew Schoop was there, he's an aggressive hitter, and I just kind of left the ball over right down the middle for him," Foltynewicz said of the first homer he allowed. "I just hung a curveball to Hardy, and he got enough of it to get it out of here. You have to tip your cap to those guys. I think I had two strikes on Hardy too. Should have been a better pitch than that so both of them were my fault."

The righty rebounded with two final strong innings, with the sixth being his best. Foltynewicz ended his night striking Chris Davis, Matt Wieters and Hardy to cap the outing at a career-high tying 104 pitches.

As Foltynewicz entered the dugout, Gonzalez greeted the righty with an extended hand.

"He just said 'good job, way to battle your butt off out there,'" Foltynewicz said. "Both him and [pitching coach] Roger [McDowell] said, 'Way to battle your butt off. Things could have been a lot worse.' So I am really glad and pleased with the way I pitched tonight in some situations there."

Connor Smolensky is an associate reporter for
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