The Atlanta Braves (7-3) traveled north to begin a three-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays (5-6) for their first interleague series of this young season. Both teams played home run derby in the Rogers Centre tonight as there was a combined seven home runs tonight. Atlanta went yard in the late innings to capture the 8-7 victory Friday night.
Jonny Gomes’ pinch-hit solo home run to lead off the eighth inning against Jays left-hander Brett Cecil gave the Braves a 6-5 lead. After a two-out Nick Markakis (4-4, BB, 3 R) single, Freddie Freeman would take Cecil yard for the second time in the inning with a two-run homer that hits the second deck giving the Braves an 8-5 lead. Those two runs would loom large as the Blue Jays would respond with two of their own in the bottom of the inning.
Julio Teheran (2-0) toed the rubber for Atlanta and it didn’t go as planned. The Braves ace only went five innings allowing five runs on seven hits, and walked two batters while striking out four. All five runs off Teheran were via home run balls, two of which came off the bat of Josh Donaldson.
Blue Jays starter Drew Hutchinson (1-0) didn’t fare much better as he only went 4 2/3 innings allowing five runs (four earned) on seven hits, while walking three batters and striking out six. After going six innings of one run ball in his first outing, Hutchinson hasn’t been able to finish five innings in his last two starts, including tonight, giving up a total of 11 runs.
Of the seven total home runs tonight, five of them came off the bats of the Blue Jays. It all started in the first inning as Devon Travis had his first at-bat in the leadoff spot and he homered to center field. Eric Young Jr. of the Braves would tie the game at one in the top of the second inning with a two-out RBI single. However, Toronto would respond in the bottom of the inning with a Russell Martin solo home run, his first home run of the season.
Atlanta would regain the lead once again in the third inning on an A.J. Pierzynski RBI single. The trend would continue in the bottom of the third as Josh Donaldson would hit a two-run homer to give the Blue Jays a 4-2 lead.
The Braves would remain resilient as Andrelton Simmons would smash a two-out, two-run double to right field tying the game at four in the top of the fifth inning. After a Blue Jays pitching change, rookie second baseman Jace Peterson would drive in Simmons with an RBI triple to give the Braves a 5-4 lead. The lead wouldn’t last long as Josh Donaldson would take Teheran deep for the second time with a solo blast to center field tying the game a five.
The battle of the bullpens would begin from the fifth inning on. Both teams would remain idle until the eighth inning. Atlanta would take the 8-5 lead on the aforementioned home runs by Gomes and Freeman. However, the Blue Jays would makes things interesting as they scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth against Jim Johnson. Russell Martin would lead the inning off with his second solo homerun of the night. Devon Travis would make it a 8-7 game with an RBI fielder’s choice.
Jason Grilli came in the ninth inning to close the game for Atlanta. It wasn’t easy as he had to face the middle of the Jays order, (Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Dioner Navarro). Grilli would go 1-2-3 in the ninth giving him his fifth save of the season. Braves rookie Cody Martin would pick up his first win of his major-league career.
The Braves will send LHP Alex Wood (1-0, 3.86 ERA) to the mound Saturday afternoon to face Toronto RHP R.A. Dickey (0-1, 2.19 ERA) at 1:07 PM EST.