Julio Teheran was lights-out yet again, but for the fourth time in his past six starts, he pitched brilliantly in a losing effort. Teheran exited in a tie game after seven innings, but the Atlanta Braves were unable to pick up their number one starter on this night, allowing a run to the Milwaukee Brewers in the eighth frame on the way to a 2-1 defeat.
The game-losing blow came in the form of a Scooter Gennett RBI single in the eighth, and it came against Bud Norris. The starter-turned-reliever's inclusion in this particular (high leverage) spot will certainly generate a great deal of vitriol in the aftermath, but with the bases empty and two outs, Norris allowed a walk to Jonathan Villar to get things going. Villar then stole second base, seemingly on cue, and Gennett brought him to the plate just seconds later to effectively end the night for Atlanta.
From there, the offense was unable to close the one-run gap, going quietly in the final two innings with the comical side-note of allowing Erick Aybar to hit for himself in a high leverage at-bat. All told, the offense produced a single run that came off the bat of a Mallex Smith triple in the fifth inning, and only Nick Markakis (who walked twice) was able to reach base on more than one occasion.
Though it certainly is a familiar refrain to see the offense come up short on a night when the pitching was strong, this performance from Teheran was particularly noteworthy. The talented right-hander allowed just one run across seven innings, but more impressively, Teheran struck out 12 (!) batters without issuing a walk. For good measure, he fanned four Brewers in a single inning (the 2nd frame), and Teheran was generally brilliant in his 105-pitch outing.
Teheran's recent level of performance has been quite strong, but after this showing, the numbers are incredibly impressive. Over the last six starts, the team's ace holds just a 0.89 ERA in 40.2 innings, and during that time, Teheran has 42 strikeouts against just nine walks. In short, he has been utterly lights-out, and his return to prominence is a very encouraging sign for the future.
Unfortunately, Teheran's recent brilliance is only a note on the back of a loss on this particular night, and fans are left to debate whether Bud Norris should have taken the ball in the late innings. Still, the offense should take the brunt of the blame for forcing only one run across in nine innings, and the overarching takeaway just might be that Teheran is all the way "back" after a dismal 2015 and a slow start to this season.