LAKELAND, Fla. – If it were May and not early March, the six-homer pummeling that Julio Teheran took in two innings and nine homers allowed by the Braves in an 18-3 loss to Detroit would’ve been hideous and alarming.
Instead it was just hideous.
The Braves’ highly rated prospects, Randall Delgado and Teheran, pitched the first three innings and were torched for 11 runs, eight hits and three walks, including seven runs off Teheran on six hits that were all homers.
“That’s an experience,” said Teheran, who gave up more homers in two innings than he allowed in 144-2/3 innings in Triple-A last season (five). Asked if he’d ever gone though anything similar, he said, “Never. No.”
If this were a regular season game, six homers would have been the most allowed by any Atlanta or Milwaukee Braves pitcher.
In major league history, according to ESPN Stats and Info, no pitcher in a regular-season game has allowed six homers while recording six outs, nor has any pitcher had a six-hit, six-homer line in a regular season game.
But it wasn’t the regular season, it was the first game of spring training for two rookies competing with Mike Minor for the fifth spot in the starting rotation. They faced a formidable lineup that took advantage of a stiff wind blowing out to right field.
Nevertheless, it was ugly. And the Braves, who used only a few lineup regulars in the second game of the Grapefruit League season, mustered one extra-base hit and no homers playing in the same conditions.
“They still scored 18 runs, but I was thinking there were about four or five balls that on a normal day don’t go out,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “Just all around a tough day to toe the rubber.”
The Tigers have beaten the Braves twice in two days, and Detroit had as many homers each day as the Braves had hits (one Saturday, nine Sunday).
On a blustery day at Joker Marchant Stadium, wind assisted a couple of homers off Teheran. But four off the right-hander were crushed, including drives to left straight into the wind by Austin Jackson and Delmon Young.
Alex Avila also got all of a towering two-run homer to center off Delgado, on a 3-2 fastball. Delgado was supposed to pitch two innings, but threw so many pitchers (39) in the first inning that Teheran was brought in to start the second.
“It’s really hard to call a game in spring training, because you want guys to work on locating their fastball,” catcher David Ross said. “You don’t want to tip your hand to throwing 3-2 sliders or whatever their second pitch is every time you get in a jam. You’ve got to challenge guys, and today it was a rough environment to challenge and a rough lineup to challenge, that’s for sure.”
In the regular season Teheran, 21, wouldn’t have been left in after giving up three homers before recording his first out in the third inning. At one point, pitching coach Roger McDowell went out to talk to him.
“He told me, ‘I need you to finish this inning,’” Teheran said. “I said ‘OK, I will. I’m trying to.’”
Gonzalez said he wasn’t worried what it might do to Teheran’s confidence.
“He’ll throw a side between here and his next start, and I’m sure Roger will talk to him,” Gonzalez said. “But these kids are pretty solid kids. They’ll be fine… That’s what you want to see, how they react the next time out, but there’s no doubt in my mind that they’ll be fine. It’s a tough day to pitch, windy, couldn’t feel the ball, that type of thing. Just go on to the next start.”
Delgado was charged with four runs, two walks and two hits — Avila’s homer and Brennan Boesch’s RBI double.
“I didn’t have my control today,” said Delgado, 22. “I was behind the count. Every time that happens, you’re going to get hit if you don’t make pitches. That’s what happened.”
Ross would not have repeatedly called for 3-1 and 3-2 fastballs in a regular season game or later in spring training.
“I don’t want to take anything away from their hitters,” Ross said. “They put some good swings on balls. But they were in a lot of hitters’ counts. We went 3-1, would make a good pitch to make it 3-2 and they knew the same pitch was coming. I can’t call a dirty 3-2 slider the first inning in spring training. You’ve got to learn to command your fastball and make your pitch. That’s what these kids are trying to do.”
Delgado and especially Teheran kept getting behind in counts and throwing fastballs up in the strike zone.
“Did it stink? Yeah,” Ross said. “But I think one thing they learned is nothing is going to be easy coming in here, and we’ve got to fine tune some thing. There’s a lot of things we’ve got to work on. Sometimes it’s nice for all of us to have some struggles. It helps us work hard and figure out what we’ve got to do. There’s no doubt about the stuff, we’ve just got to work on location.”