As far as debuts go, it wasn’t particularly memorable. Tucker Davidson managed to get just five outs, giving up a two-run homer and leaving the bases loaded with two outs in the second. Grant Dayton came on and promptly surrendered a grand slam, and that was pretty much that in a game with no near-term implications for either the Braves or the Red Sox.
Davidson’s first inning was actually pretty good, as he overpowered both Alex Verdugo and Rafael Devers with fastballs, giving him two strikeouts across his first 11 pitches. After a walk to Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez flew out to give Davidson his first-ever goose egg. But, the second was far worse. After a first-pitch flyout, Davidson missed badly with four straight to Jackie Bradley Jr., and then got beat by Bobby Dalbec to the tune of a two-run homer that came on a fastball below the zone. Davidson’s velocity dropped from 92-94 to 90-92 in between innings. Now trailing 2-0, Davidson loaded the bases — though it wasn’t entirely his fault. A misplay by Adeiny Hechavarria at third led to the first runner, a bloop over second led to the second, and a walk to Verdugo packed the sacks. Devers followed by somehow hitting a fastball above the letters into the ground for an RBI forceout, beating out the relay to score a third run. After an RBI single by Bogaerts and a walk to Martinez, Davidson departed. having walked four and struck out two in 1 2⁄3 innings.
Grant Dayton came on to face Christian Vazquez, and the latter took out his frustration on the Red Sox’ 2020 campaign on an 88 mph neck-high fastball, crushing it for a monster of a grand slam to left. That added three more runs to Davidson’s tally, though I guess someone might find comfort in the fact that they were all unearned due to Hechavarria’s earlier misplay.
The Braves have had a lot of comebacks in them this season, but one did not transpire here. Red Sox rookie Tanner Houck, making his third major league start, pitched six innings of three-hit, three-walk ball with ten strikeouts. The Braves tried to rally off him in the fourth when Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna started the frame with consecutive walks, but Houck struck out Travis d’Arnaud and Ozzie Albies. Adam Duvall grounded out to end the inning. The only run off Houck came in the fifth, when Dansby Swanson jumped all over a first-pitch fastball and creamed it into left-center for his tenth dinger of the year.
Beyond that, basically nothing else happened in this game. The Braves got a second run in the eighth as Freeman doubled with one out, and came around to score on a d’Arnaud liner that hit the opposing pitcher, Phillips Valdez. In this case, the pitcher actually recovered to grab and fire the ball to first, but a bobble and a bad throw let Freeman score.
Aside from Dayton giving up the grand slam, a procession of relievers stifled the Red Sox. Dayton ended up working 2 2⁄3 with just the slam allowed; Jacob Webb followed with 2 1⁄3 scoreless despite somehow collecting zero strikeouts in the process. Tyler Matzek struck out four of the five batters he faced (the other one doubled). A.J. Minter finished out the pitching slate for Atlanta with a scoreless inning and two strikeouts of his own.
Offensively, the Braves didn’t do too much, though Freeman further bolstered his MVP bid with a 1-for-2, two-walk day that included his 23rd double of the season.
The regular season wraps up tomorrow. It’s been a fun, strange, ride.