Three Strikes: Braves’ Mike Foltynewicz comes up just short of a no-no against the A’s

Saturday July 1st, 2017

Here's baseball’s notable storylines from Friday, June 30:

Not Quite

Mike Foltynewicz arrived on a terrible Atlanta team as a hyped prospect and potential long-term starter. After making his big league debut as a reliever for the Astros in 2014, the 23-year-old Foltynewicz headed to Atlanta as part of a package for Evan Gattis. In Houston, he may not have been able to crack a rotation anchored by Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers and Collin McHugh. In Atlanta, he would start. The only question is whether he’d be able to keep his spot.

Two-and-a-half seasons later, Foltynewicz is showing the signs that he’ll be a staple in the Braves rotation. On Friday night, he almost completed his first career no-hitter during the Braves tight 3–1 win over the A’s. Foltynewicz made it through eight innings of no-hit ball before Matt Olson broke it up with a leadoff homer in the ninth in a nine-pitch at-bat. It would have been the first no-no any Braves pitcher had thrown since Kent Mercker shut down the Dodgers in Los Angeles on April 8, 1994.

MLB
Wait, did Tim Tebow just rob a home run?

Perhaps Braves fans can blame the A’s Twitter account, which would not stop making jokes at Atlanta’s expense.

 

The Braves had some fun with the event, too.

 

It was an effective but hardly clean outing. Foltynewicz walked four hitters and finished with 119 pitches, his highest output of the season by a wide margin. In an era where managers are pulling pitchers prior to completing no-hitters as injury precautions, Atlanta skipper Brian Snitker trotted Foltynewicz out for the ninth even though the righty had thrown 110 pitches. The conditions looked ideal, too. Foltynewicz toyed with the A’s hitters using primarily a fastball-changeup combination that produced barely any hard contact until Olson’s homer. It wasn’t hard to see why, the A’s entered the game ranked 27th in team batting average and 24th in team on-base percentage.  

It was the fifth time in his last six starts that Foltynewicz had allowed two runs or fewer and he improved to 6–5 with a 3.83 ERA on the season. The Braves won’t be making the playoffs this season, but Foltynewicz—who is under team control until 2021—looks like he’ll be a stable part of the rotation for the foreseeable future.

The Dodgers and Padres played a weird blowout

*Cue ESPN 30-for-30 intro*

What if I were to tell you…

The backup catcher would hit a grand slam. Both benches would be warned before the end of the first inning. Both managers would be ejected before the top of the second. The backup catcher would hit another homer. The ballgirl would interrupt a live ball. And no player would get hit.

Nobody could quite figure out why the Dodgers were mad at one another or why L.A. manager Dave Roberts charged and appeared to want to fight Padres manager Andy Green during the Dodgers’ 10–4 win over the Padres on Friday. After Dodgers backup catcher Austin Barnes gave his team a nice cushion with a first-inning slam, L.A. starter Alex Wood was seen barking at the Padres for an unknown reason. Perhaps he thought the San Diego players were trying to steal signs, maybe he was annoyed by something. Whatever it was, it caused the umpires to warn both benches, an unusual move in a game with no hit batsmen. After that, Roberts and Green met at home plate to sort out whatever triggered the unrest. It only made matters worse when the usually congenial Roberts charged Green, which caused the benches to clear and both skippers to be ejected.

 

Then the ballgirl messed up when the Padres were trying to keep the game interesting.

And, ultimately, the Dodgers cruised to an easy victory behind Barnes’s career night. He followed up his first-inning grand slam with an even more impressive three-run shot to centerfield and give himself a career-high seven RBIs for the night. The matchup between one of baseball’s best teams and one of its worst is hardly a major headline, but now there’s some enmity between them with two games left in the series.

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Some highlights

• Brett Gardner clubbed a grand slam to help give the Yankees a 13–4 win over the Astros.

 

• When that game was still competitive, Lance McCullers made one heck of a nice tag.

 

• The Mariners may be struggling again, but Robinson Cano remains ever-so-smooth.

• Spanking new acquisition Stephen Vogt homered twice to give the Brewers a 3–2 win over the Marlins. He’s acclimating nicely.

 

• Yasiel Puig is having a fantastic season defensively, and he came up with another gorgeous catch on Friday.

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