The Detroit Tigers scored two runs in the eighth inning off Ryan Buchter to defeat the Atlanta Braves 2-1 on Friday. The Braves scored a run in the ninth inning off a Joey Terdoslavich home run but couldn’t muster any more offense.
Both pitching staffs appeared ahead of the hitters for the first game of spring training as the teams combined for just 10 hits. Discounting Buchter’s rough eighth (three hits and two earned runs), the Braves’ bullpen combined for six innings and gave up just one hit following the two scoreless innings from Tim Hudson. Manager Fredi Gonzalez used Craig Kimbrel, Luis Avilan, Cory Gearrin, Christian Martinez, Dusty Hughes, Gus Schlosser and Buchter. Kimbrel wasn’t dominant in his lone inning as he walked two men and had a wild pitch but managed to hold the Tigers scoreless with a strikeout. While Kimbrel struggled, Gonzalez had to be particularly pleased with the efforts he got from Gearrin and Avilan. Gearrin struck out two in a perfect fifth inning following Avilan’s fourth inning in which he allowed one walk and no hits. Those two seem in line for key situational roles out of the bullpen this year.
Hudson enjoyed an uneventful day for the most part on Friday. While he got into a jam in the second inning by starting the inning with a walk and hit batsmen, Hudson quickly got out of it with a double play and groundout. His first inning was much more efficient as he set the side down in order on just seven pitches.
Offensively, it was a struggle for the Braves. Their first hit came in the fifth inning off a Freddie Freeman single and had just six in total. Freeman and Dan Uggla were the only starters to record a hit as the starters each got two at-bats.
Strikeout Watch: Strikeouts will be a concern this season and worth monitoring throughout spring training. On Friday, the Braves fanned eight times.
Upton Brothers: B.J. and Justin Upton each went 0-2 in their first spring training action with B.J. striking out once.
Third-Base Competition: Juan Francisco got the start and went 0-2 with one man left on base. Chris Johnson grounded out in his only at-bat.
Up Next: Paul Maholm takes the mound against the New York Yankees for the 1:05 p.m. contest on Saturday.