The game was played in dreadful conditions, and the Braves accelerated Foltynewicz’s season debut to give R.A. Dickey the chance to make his first Atlanta appearance in better conditions, which will hopefully be present on Saturday.
Foltynewicz said prior to the game that the 38-degree, snowy, and windy conditions would be nothing too dissimilar than what he experienced growing up in Illinois, where the weather was typically cold at the beginning of the season.
But he was inefficient on Friday, as was unable to complete the fourth inning, throwing 91 pitches in just 3 2⁄3 innings and departing with the bases loaded. Luckily, Eric O’Flaherty was able to escape further damage.
The young righty allowed single hits in the first and second innings, but gave up the first run of the game in the third inning on an Andrew McCutchen single to left to drive home Starling Marte, who was hit by a pitch. McCutchen finished the day 3-for-4.
The Pirates took a 2-0 lead in the fourth, as Jody Mercer reached on a one-out single and later scored on a single from Marte, who drove in a pair of runs on the day.
Foltynewicz walked the next two batters, Josh Bell and McCutchen, leaving the game after allowing six hits and three walks, with just one punchout on the day.
The Braves’ key source of offense over the first few games of the season, Kemp raised concern for fans after he left the game with “hamstring tightness” after he singled in the sixth inning and gingerly jogged to first base.
Kemp made a diving catch to rob Josh Harrison of a hit in the fifth inning, apparently the source of the problem. With the weather situation, there is reason to believe that him leaving the game is in fact precautionary. Chase d’Arnaud replaced him in left field.
Atlanta’s first run came in the top of the fifth, as the Braves cashed in a Pirate mistake. With two outs, Emilio Bonifacio hit a lazy fly ball to left field, where the ball got away from Gregory Polanco and he was unable to squeeze the ball in his glove, allowing Bonifacio to advance to second. Inciarte followed with a double down the right field line to cut Pittsburgh’s lead to 2-1.
Josh Collmenter made his first appearance of 2017 in the sixth, and allowed back-to-back home runs to David Freese and Francisco Cervelli to give Pittsburgh a 4-1 edge. He completed two innings without another blemish.
Chaz Roe surrendered an additional unearned run in the seventh.
The Braves offense struggled to convert with runners in scoring position, loading the bases with one out in the fourth inning and putting runners at second and third with one out in the sixth and failing to score both times. Brandon Phillips hit into a double play in the fourth and a Phillips strikeout and Adonis Garcia groundout ended the sixth-inning threat.
Atlanta mounted a rally and cut the lead to 5-4 with a three-run eighth, as Dansby Swanson and d’Arnaud collected hits, followed by a Nick Markakis ground-rule double, that scored Freddie Freeman, who replaced Swanson after a fielder’s choice.
Phillips followed by amending for his earlier shortfalls with RISP, singling up the middle to bring in d’Arnaud and Markakis.
Swanson lined out to left with Jace Peterson at third base to end the ball game, after Peterson ran for Kurt Suzuki, who was hit by a pitch to lead off the ninth.
Pirates starter Ivan Nova pitched six innings, surrendering just the one unearned run on six hits, with no walks and four strikeouts.
Inciarte, Kemp and Markakis each registered multi-hit performances.
The two teams will play game 2 of the series Saturday at 7:05 p.m., televised by FOX Sports Southeast.