Teheran faces Rockies again 5 days later, this time at Coors

 

DENVER – Let’s see if Julio Teheran and Jon Gray can match the pitching matchup they staged Sunday in Atlanta when they meet again Thursday night in the thin air of Coors Field. The Braves hope that only half of that sparkling pitcher’s duel materializes in this sequel in the Mile High City.

Julio Teheran will face the Rockies for the second time in six days, after pitching seven scoreless innings against them Sunday in Atlanta. ((Jason Getz/AJC file photo)

Julio Teheran will face the Rockies for the second time in six days, after pitching seven scoreless innings against them Sunday in Atlanta. ((Jason Getz/AJC file photo)

Teheran, in his first start after pitching in the All-Star game, and Gray, in the best showing of his young career, each pitched seven scoreless innings and neither got a decision in Sunday’s 1-0 walk-off Braves win. Teheran allowed just three hits and one walk with five strikeouts in that game, while Gray limited the Braves to five hits and three walks with eight strikeouts.

Gray is 5-6 with a 4.69 ERA and .256 opponents’ average in 25 career starts.

Teheran, meanwhile, has a 2.51 ERA and .205 opponents’ average in 25 starts since the beginning of September, though just a 5-9 record in that span as the Braves scored two or fewer runs while he was in 18 of those games.

(For those who might be as curious as I was, the erratic Rockies scored two runs or fewer while Gray was in 13 of his 25 career starts, but they scored four runs or more while he was in nine games including five runs or more while he was in seven of his past 12 starts.)

Teheran has made two career starts at Coors, with wildly disparate results. He pitching seven innings of one-run ball to win the second game of a historic April 23, 2103 doubleheader sweep by the Braves, when the 23-degree temperature in the opening game made it the coldest since MLB starting keeping such records in 1991 and five degrees colder than any previous game at Coors Field. Teheran pitched in 30-degree weather in the second game.

In his only other start at Coors, Teheran gave up 10 hits and seven runs — but no walks or homers, oddly  — in a loss on June 11, 2014.

Gray is 3-0 with a 4.71 ERA and .233 opponents’ average in seven home starts this season, compared to 2-4 with a 4.02 ERA in nine road starts. There’s an unusual split the strikeouts-to-walks ratio for the young right-hander, who has 47 strikeouts with only nine walks in 42 innings at Coors Field this season, compared to 56 strikeouts with 23 walks in 53 2/3 innings on the road.

Streak ends: Nick Markakis’ impressive streak of 32 consecutive plate appearances without swinging and missing a pitch ended Thursday when he struck out in the ninth inning of a 7-3 loss to the Rockies. Markakis had not swung at and missed a pitch in an eight-game stretch since the second-to-last game before the All-Star break and had the longest such active streak in the majors.

In his past 14 games, beginning July 4, Markakis has hit .302 (16-for-53) with one double, three homers, five walks, seven strikeouts and a .362 OBP and .491 slugging percentage. The three homers came in a less-than-24-hour stretch July 7-8 at Chicago, when he hit two homers in a makeup game against the Cubs and a homer against the White Sox.

Markakis has 10 hits in nine games since then, including nine singles.

Garcia stays hot: The Braves’ other hottest hitter this month is Adonis Garcia, who doubled Thursday and is 19-for-51 (.373) with five doubles, two homers, nine RBIs and a .588 slugging percentage in his past 13 games beginning July 5. That includes 8-for-21 with two homers in the Braves’ past five games.

Freeman is not: Coinciding with hot streaks from Markakis and Garcia has been a icy stretch for Freddie Freeman, which came on the heels of his best extended run of hitting this season.

Freeman is 6-for-47 (.128) with three home runs and four RBIs in 13 games beginning July 4. Two of his homers in that stretch came in consecutive games July 8-9 at Chicago against the White Sox in a three-game series when the Braves hit eight homers – three more than they hit in the entire month of April.

In his past seven games, Freeman is 2-for-27 (.074) with one homer, one RBI, two walks and 15 strikeouts. The Braves are 2-5 in those games.

Against the Rockies, Freeman’s fortunes changed dramatically since June 11, 2014, just as the Braves’ team results against the Rockies have in that same span.

Freeman absolutely raked against the Rockies in the first 3 ½ seasons of his career, batting .340 with a whopping 11 homers (19 extra-base hits) and 27 RBIs in 27 games through June 10, 2014. He had a .748 slugging percentage in those 27 games.

But beginning June 11, 2014, Freeman has gone 1-for-33 with no extra-base hits, no RBIs, four walks and 14 strikeouts in nine games against the Rockies, including seven losses.

The Braves have played the Rockies 13 times in that span – Freeman missed four games due to injuries – and the Rockies are 11-2 with a 2.65 ERA and .301 batting average in those 13 games. The Braves have posted a .238 BA and 5.63 ERA while being outscored 78-34 in those 13 games.

CarGo keeps going:  Carlos Gonzalez continues killing the Braves, breaking open a scoreless game with a long homer – nearly 450 feet – off Mike Foltynewicz in the sixth inning of Thursday’s game.

Gonzalez went 0-for-9 in the first five games he played against the Braves in 2009 and 2010, but in 32 games against them since then he’s hit .333 with 18 extra-base hits (eight homers) and 28 RBIs, with a .402 OBP and .624 slugging percentage.

Not that he doesn’t wreck other teams’ pitching, too. In his past 40 games this season, Gonzalez has hit .331 (52-for-157) with 10 doubles, 10 homers, 36 RBIs and a .386 OBP and .586 slugging percentage. And as I said last night, that swing of his is a thing of beauty, just about the sweetest swing in baseball today. When he’s healthy, there aren’t many major league hitters as good or better than CarGo, in my opinion.

By the way, he became the third Rockie with 20 home runs this season, making them the only NL team with three 20-homer hitters. Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story lead the Rockies with 23 apiece, including 11 apiece on the road.

The only Brave with more than seven homers is Freddie Freeman, who has 17. The only Brave with more than five homers on the road is Freeman, with seven.

• I’ll close with this one from the late, great Townes Van Zandt, who wrote ’em better than just about anyone before or since.

“COLORADO GIRL” by Townes Van Zandt

Townes Van Zandt

Townes Van Zandt

I’m goin’ out to Denver
See if I can’t find
I’m goin’ out to Denver
See if I can’t find
That lovin’ Colorado girl of mine

The promise in her smile
Shames the mountains tall
The promise in her smile
Shames the mountains tall
She bring the sun to shining
Tell the rain to fall

It’s been a long time, mama,
Since I heard you call my name
Ah, been a long time
Since I heard you call my name
I got to see my Colorado girl again

Be there tomorrow
Mama, don’t you cry
Be there tomorrow
Now, mama, don’t you cry
I got to kiss these lonesome
Texas blues good-bye

I’m goin’ out to to Denver
See if I can’t find
I’m goin’ out to to Denver
See if I can’t find
That lovin’ Colorado girl of mine
That lovin’ Colorado girl of mine


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