For the second consecutive spring training game, a Braves pitching prospect had a rough outing on his spring debut. This time it was Lucas Sims who got hit around by the opposition, as the Phillies managed to run the 21-year old prospect before the second inning ended.
Sims' rough outing started off decently enough, as he managed to get out of the first inning without giving up a run. He did surrender a walk to David Lough, but Lough was wiped off the bases after he was caught stealing by Braeden Schlehuber to end the inning.
The second inning began well for Sims, as he struck out Ryan Howard to start the bottom of the second. After walking Cedric Hunter, Sims got Nick Williams to ground out, which moved Hunter into scoring position. This is when things went downhill for Sims. Darnell Sweeney singled to bring in Hunter to tie the game at one, and then Sims walked Ryan Jackson -- including a wild pitch that moved Sweeney to second base. Cameron Rupp rolled a grounder up the middle to put the Phillies in the lead, and then Tyler Goeddel hit a liner to right to bring in both Rupp and Jackson, making it 4-1 Phillies at that point.
Lucas Sims exited the game after that point, and he left with a nasty-looking line of 1.2 IP, 1 K, 3 hits, 3 walks, and 5 runs -- all earned. Yeah, it was a rough start for Sims, but we're still in the infancy of spring training, so surely things should get better for Sims.
Meanwhile, Victor Mateo entered the game in relief of Sims, and things immediately went off the rails. Mateo walked Lough, and then proceeded to give up a two-run homer to Maikel Franco. The inning ended exactly how it started, though, with Ryan Howard striking out. However, the damage was done, and the Phillies exited the second inning with a 7-1 lead.
If you think it was all negative for the Braves pitching staff today, it wasn't. The Braves only gave up two more runs from that point forward, with Chris Kelly giving up both runs over two innings of work. Meanwhile, Arodys Vizcaino made his spring debut and struck out the side, so it's definitely nice to see him come out of the gates with an impressive outing.
On the bright side, we did get some positive work from Braves batters today. Erick Aybar went 3-for-3 at the plate, and this included an RBI double that plated Ender Inciarte for the game's first run. Inciarte himself went 2-3, with the leadoff double and run scored being his most notable contribution to today's action.
Later in the game, the Braves made a late push by scoring four runs in the top of the eighth inning. This included the fourth run of the inning being scored when the Phillies walked noted legendary power hitter Mallex Smith with the bases loaded.
Mallex Smith is already receiving the Barry Bonds treatment. He just drew a bases loaded walk off Luis Garcia.— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) March 4, 2016
Smith's walk made it 9-7 after eight innings, and then the Braves completed the comeback in the top of the ninth inning when Ozhaino Albies walked to bring in the tying run. Darnell Sweeney then proceeded to make a mess out of a grounder from Mallex Smith, and that resulted in two runs scoring and the Braves had the lead for the first time since the top of the second inning.
Jason Hursh came on to finish off what would've been a great comeback effort, even for a spring training game. Hursh retired the first two batters he saw, but two singles and a three-run homer from Cedric Hunter later, the game was over and the comeback ended up being in vain. So, it's a good thing that these games don't count -- unless you're planning on handing out a pennant for Grapefruit League achievements, then I suppose that the Braves aren't off to the best start when it comes to picking up that particular accolade.