In an era that has seen strikeout rates explode and 95 being the new 90 on the mound, there’s something refreshing about watching Dallas Keuchel work his craft.
The veteran lefty continued to do his thing on Friday night at Petco Park, tossing seven innings of one-run ball as the Padres routinely rolled over his arsenal of pitches. You could count on one hand the number of times he hit 90 on the radar gun.
The Braves won by a score of 5-3.
Keuchel didn’t have complete command tonight but was able to work around a couple of jams without much trouble. He surrendered six hits — five singles and a homer — while walking four and striking out five. His ERA sits at 3.09 through five starts. He’s now pitched 7+ innings in three straight starts.
The Braves’ bats didn’t take long to get going after the four-day break as Josh Donaldson crushed a three-run homer in the first inning to take a 3-0 lead over Dinelson Lamet.
Ronald Acuña Jr. then put to bed any concerns there would be a Home Run Derby hangover as he launched a solo shot off Lamet in the fifth inning that traveled 445 feet.
Manny Machado put San Diego on the board in the sixth with a line drive shot to left field that was never in doubt. That was all the hard contact San Diego would really muster against Keuchel, though, as he brilliantly worked both sides of the plate.
Donaldson would then line his second opposite-field homer of the night — and his 20th overall on the season — into the right field seats in the top of the 8th to extend Atlanta’s lead to 5-1.
Chad Sobotka entered the bottom half of the 8th and was not sharp, allowing a single to Machado and a walk to Hunter Renfroe. Fortunately, Franmil Reyes smoked a 3-2 slider right to Ozzie Albies, who turned a 4-3 double play. Sobotka would promptly give up a run-scoring single with two outs, though, ending his night and forcing Brian Snitker to bring in Jacob Webb for the final out.
Luke Jackson, as usual, brought on some drama in the 9th as he allowed a run to score and had Manny Machado at the plate as the game-tying run, but a weak grounder to short was tossed across the diamond for the final out. It was Jackson’s 15th save of the year.
Game two of the series will be Saturday night at 8:10 p.m. ET as Julio Teheran looks to keep the magic going against lefty Joey Lucchesi (7-4, 3.94 ERA).