Mike Foltynewicz was brilliant on Friday night in Oakland, and he almost did something that no Braves pitcher has done since Kent Mercker in 1994.
After eight no-hit innings, Matt Olson stepped to the plate to lead off the bottom of the 9th. Foltynewicz fell behind 2-0 before eventually equaling the count at 2-2. An inside fastball was off the plate but had a chance to be called strike three — home plate umpire Cory Blaser did not oblige. Two pitches later, on pitch No. 119 of the night, a fastball right down broadway was hit into the right field seats. The no-no was no-more.*
*I couldn’t wait to use that line. Sue me.
Foltynewicz walked off the field to a standing ovation from the Oakland crowd. It was a hell of a performance. It was the closest a Brave had come to a no-hitter since Shelby Miller’s afternoon against the Marlins in 2015.
The game itself was equally enjoyable. Johan Camargo and Dansby Swanson smacked doubles off the wall in the 3rd inning to give Atlanta a 1-0 lead. That was all the offense Sonny Gray — a rumored Braves trade target — would allow through eight innings.
With Foltynewicz sitting in the dugout with nothing but his thoughts, the Braves’ bats came alive in the ninth with two more runs. The half-inning lasted roughly 15 minutes, and we can debate all night whether or not that threw Folty off his stride.
After the homer in the 9th, Jim Johnson came on. He gave up a leadoff double but would strike out the next three batters he saw.
The Braves and A’s will meet again on Saturday afternoon at 4:05 ET.
Tonight, however, belongs to Mike Foltynewicz. He flirted with history, and I have a feeling he may do it again some day.