A.J. Cole got hit hard. Hard, hard. Atlanta jumped on the right-hander early, quickly erasing a 3-0 deficit in the bottom of the first and adding four in the second as they jumped out to an 8-4 lead and continued to add on, with runs in each of the first five innings.
Cole gave up 10 hits and 10 runs total in 3 2⁄3 innings, and the Braves ended the Washington Nationals’ hopes for an undefeated season with a 13-6 win in the second of three between the NL East rivals in SunTrust Park.
Strike Hard, Strike First: Davey Martinez has talked early this season about striking first and putting pressure on the opposition from the get-go.
In four games before tonight’s in Atlanta, the Nationals did, with runs in the first innings in each game this season, and they managed to do it again.
Adam Eaton walked, went first-to-third on a single by Anthony Rendon, and scored on an RBI groundout by Bryce Harper to make it 1-0 early in SunTrust Park.
One batter later, it was a 3-0 game after Ryan Zimmerman jacked a low 1-1 fastball from Julio Teheran, hitting a two-run blast to left for his first home run of the season. #TKCHZ
A.J. in ATL: A.J. Cole made his MLB debut in Atlanta back in 2015, in a rough outing which saw the then-23-year-old right-hander get knocked around.
Cole surrendered nine hits and nine runs, four earned, in just two innings that night, in what ended up a 13-12 win in which he received no decision.
That start took place in Turner Field. Tonight the righty was in SunTrust Park, making his first career start in the Braves’ new home.
Cole took the mound with a 3-0 lead, but ran into trouble after recording a swinging K in the first at bat of the night.
Ozzie Albies singled with one down, Freddie Freeman walked (for the 9th time this season), Nick Markakis doubled to right to drive in a run, and Preston Tucker hit a hanging curve to right field for a no-doubter of a three-run blast that put the home team on top, 4-3.
"Dinner for three, please." -@PrestonTucker20, maybe. #ChopOn pic.twitter.com/YT1yWTq6LQ— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) April 4, 2018
Cole decided to do something about it himself in the second, taking a 2-1 fastball from Julio Teheran to left field for a solo shot (his first career homer and third career hit), tying it up at 4-4.
Two walks and an RBI single by Albies in the second led to the Braves’ fifth run off Cole, 5-4, and Freeman followed with a three-run blast on a 1-0 fastball that ended up in the right field bullpen, 8-4.
It was an 8-5 game when Cole took the mound in the bottom of the third inning, and gave up back-to-back-to-back singles that resulted in another run, 9-5.
Cole came back out for the fourth, retired two batters, but gave up back-to-back, two-out hits, a double by Preston Tucker and an RBI single by Dansby Swanson, 10-5.
A.J. Cole’s Line: 3.2 IP, 10 H, 10 R, 10 ER, 3 BB, 4 Ks, 2 HRs, 75 P, 49 S, 4/3 GO/FO.
Harper vs Teheran: Bryce Harper got off to a 5 for 12 start to the 2018 season, with three homers, six walks (no strikeouts), and six runs scored in four games, and tonight, the 25-year-old was facing Braves’ right-hander Julio Teheran, against whom the 2010 No. 1 pick had a .459/.556/1.108 line (17 for 37) with three doubles, seven homers, seven walks, and five strikeouts thus far in their respective careers.
Harper picked up an RBI with a groundout the first time up, then crushed a first-pitch curve from Teheran to lead off the third inning, sending his fourth home run of the season out to right field to make it a three-run game, 8-5 Braves.
Bryce Harper has hit 4 HRs in his last 3 games.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) April 4, 2018
(And it's only the 3rd inning so maybe check back here again later.) pic.twitter.com/q9iwU1fbYF
Chip Away, Maybe... Not?: Harper homered to start the third inning, then one out later Howie Kendrick hit a double to left and took third on a Trea Turner single. Brian Goodwin walked to load’em up and end Teheran’s night after 66 pitches.
Shane Carle inherited the one-out jam, and got two outs with two pitches to escape without any damage, still 8-5 Braves at that point, though they added to their lead in the bottom of the third.
Julio Teheran’s Line: 2.1 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 2 Ks, 3 HRs, 66 P, 38 S, 2/2 GO/FO.
Bullpen Action: Enny Romero took over with a runner on and two outs in the fourth with the Nationals trailing, 10-5, and hit the first batter he faced before getting out of the inning with help from a diving Brian Goodwin in center.
Romero gave up back-to-back, two-out singles by Albies and Freeman in the fifth inning as the Braves added to their lead, 11-5.
Shawn Kelley came out for a second straight night in the sixth and retired the Braves in a 13-pitch, 1-2-3 frame.
Sammy Solis took over in the seventh and struck out the side in an efficient 20-pitch inning.
Trevor Gott walked the first batter he faced (finally, a walk to Freddie Freeman), and gave up a double to left by Nick Markakis that put two runners in scoring position with no one out.
Lane Adams drove both runners in with a single to center that made it 13-5.
Matt Adams walked, took second on a passed ball, and third on a wild pitch, and scored on an RBI groundout by
Final Score: 13-6 Braves
Nationals now 4-1