Julio Teheran continued his amazing run, tossing 6 shutout innings with only 2 hits and 1 walk. In Teheran’s last seven starts, he has a 0.68 ERA. How many of us predicted that?
Trevor Richards was just as impressive for the Marlins, shutting the Braves out on only one hit through 6. But in the top of the 7th, the Braves broke through to break the scoreless tie. Austin Riley led off with a ground ball single to left that he hustled into a double. Ozzie advanced him to third on a deep fly to center, and Tyler Flowers brought him home on a medium range fly ball to right (on an 0-2 count). When I saw the depth of that fly ball, I assumed it would be a close play at the plate, but Riley hustled home and beat the throw easily.
The bullpen held the line for the final 3 innings, and the Braves came away with a 1-0 victory. Anthony Swarzak continued his fine work as a Brave, retiring 5 straight in the 8th and 9th. After Newki gave up a double, Snit called on Luki the Slider Man for the 4 out save. Once again, Jackson delivered. The play of the game, though, came with two outs in the bottom of the 8th. With the tying run on third, Anderson hit a tapper to third. It looked for all the world that the Fish had tied it up. But Donaldson made one of the best defensive plays of the season and threw the runner out by a split second. Jackson then struck out the side in the ninth (around a Prado single) to secure the win. Luke is for real. As long as he can throw that slider as he has, and pump in the 96 mph heater, he’s as good as anyone.
Teheran, the bullpen, and great defense won the game—but it was Austin Riley’s hustle on the and bases that provided the only offense they needed. Riley has of course been phenomenal since his call-up, but this is the first game he has won with his baserunning.
Riley’s success has prompted me to reflect on the great Bob Horner, another big third baseman who made a splash in his first few games with Atlanta. Exactly 41 years ago, on June 8, 1978, the Braves had the overall number one pick in the draft. They chose Bob Horner out of Arizona State, fresh off a season in which he hit 25 homers and 100 RBIs (in 60 games!). As you may know, Horner never played a game in the minors. And in his first game for the Braves, he homered. By season’s end, he had 23 home runs in 89 games and was named the NL Rookie of the Year. And Horner was just 20 years old in 1978, more than a full year younger than Riley is now.
But Horner did not have nearly the immediate impact that Riley has had. It took Horner 41 games to hit his ninth home run; Riley did so in 18 games. And Horner’s Braves in 1978 were not in the thick of a pennant race.
Horner had one of the best and quickest swings you’ll ever want to see. If he had stayed healthy, he was a Hall of Fame caliber hitter. But of course the main thing you probably know about Horner is that he could not stay healthy. That, and that he once hit four home runs in a game—but since that was the 1986 Braves, they lost the game.
One thing I can guarantee you without looking it up. I’m sure Horner never legged out a double on a routine ground ball and then scored on consecutive sac flies.
By the way, the Braves have had one other overall number one pick, in addition to Horner: one Larry Wayne Jones who held down third base for a couple of decades. That one definitely worked out.
Braves go for the sweep on Sunday behind Max “Varsity” Fried.