The Braves once again were ready to take on the Boston Red Sox on Saturday afternoon. Ian Anderson took the mound for the Braves, while Martin Perez toed the rubber for the Red Sox as the two starters. Both teams have likely grown familiar with his either with as many times as they have faced each other already this Spring.
The Braves tried to find some success early. With two outs, Dansby Swanson singled and Jake Lamb earned a walk. However, Abraham Almonte looked at strike three to end the threat. Anderson then took the mound, and looked dominant as he struck out the side to end the first.
After the Braves could only muster a single in the top of the second, Anderson retired Rafael Devers on his fourth straight strikeout to open the game. However, Hunter Renfroe then connected with his first home run of the Spring to give Boston the lead, 1-0. After the Braves were retired in order in the top of the third, Anderson ran into immediate trouble in the bottom of the inning. Two doubles, a walk, a wild pitch, and a sacrifice fly produced two more runs for Boston, with Alex Verdugo and Xander Bogaerts delivering the RBIs.
The Braves once again were retired quietly in the top of the fourth inning, and then Anderson struck out Renfroe to end his day after 3 1⁄3 innings. Anderson did yield three runs on four hits and one walk; however, he produced seven strikeouts. While the Red Sox did make some hard contact against Anderson, his stuff certainly was on point at times as well. Despite the result on the scoreboard, this was certainly an encouraging outing.
Jacob Webb recorded the last two outs of the fourth, and William Contreras started the fifth inning off with a walk. Ehire Adrianza was hit by a pitch, and after a sacrifice bunt by Ryan Goins, Contreras scored on a groundout by Ronald Acuna Jr. The Braves could not do any more damage in the top of the inning. Fortunately, both Webb and Carl Edwards Jr. retired the Red Sox in order to end the fifth inning.
The Braves had a strong start to the sixth inning as they loaded the bases on two walks and a hit by pitch with only one out. However, Jonathan Morales grounded into a double play to erase the socring chance. Edwards Jr. worked around a walk to end the sixth with the score still 3-1 in favor of Boston.
The Braves once again started an inning with a walk to Adrianza in the top of the seventh, but could not find any more success. Connor Johnstone answered the call in the bottom of the inning and recorded three straight outs. The Braves could not turn a single, stolen base, and walk into a score in the top of the eighth inning, as Nolan Kingham was then called on to pitch in the bottom of the inning.
Unfortunately, it was simply not Kingham’s day. A single, double, and walk loaded the bases with no outs for Michael Gettys, who then delivered a Grand Slam to extend the lead for Boston, 7-1. However, the Braves decided to make a little noise of their own in the ninth. CJ Alexander hit a double to start the inning, and after a walk to Ryan Goins, surging prospect Michael Harris once again showed his opposite field power with an opposite field ground-rule double to score Alexander. Though the Braves would then be retired to end the game with a 7-2 loss, it was certainly an encouraging ending to the game to once again see Harris put his potential on display.
Though the result was less than ideal, Anderson had a decent outing and a few of the relievers shined as well. Though the Atlanta offense certainly struggled, it was good to see the Braves’ position prospects produce some good at-bats late in the game. Hopefully, these at-bats will lead to more success as March progresses.
The Braves will be back in action tomorrow against the Tampa Bay Rays with a 1:05 EST/ 12:05 CST start. Don’t forget to spring those clocks forward tonight so you will not miss the game!