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Pitching Struggles Sink Braves At Tropicana Field, 14-5

The Atlanta Braves (2-2) faced off against the Tampa Bay Rays (3-1) at Tropicana Park, in St. Petersburg, Fla, where they would strikeout 19 times, a Tampa Bay record.

The Braves would fall to the Rays 14-5, in one of the worst pitching performances in recent memory. Mike Foltynewicz got his first start on the mound for the Braves on Monday, with Tyler Glasnow starting for the Rays. The Braves were held scoreless in the first inning as Glasnow walked Freddie Freeman, while striking out Ronald Acuna Jr. Ozzie Albies and Marcell Ozuna, to end the inning scoreless.

Acuna got the first out of the game for the Braves off a pop fly from Choi Ji-Man. After that Foltynewicz walked Brandon Lowe. The Braves pulled off the double play to end the inning. Dansby Swanson left his first mark on the game, blasting a solo home run in the top of the second inning.

Austin Riley struck out and Ender Inciarte was walked and left on first as William Contreras, was caught swinging to end the inning 1-0.  Yoshi Tsutsugo started at bat for the Rays, but was immediately struck out by Foltynewicz on 1-3 count.  Hunter Renfroe followed up by sending a roller between first and second base to get on first, but the Braves persevered by pulling off yet another double play to end the inning on a bouncing ball from Joey Wendle.

The top of the third was a quick one as Acuna struck out again. Albies cracked one to left center field, however, nothing came of it as Choi easily caught it. Freeman hit one between first and second, but was ultimately tagged out by Glasnow, with the score remaining 1-0.

Willy Adames started the bottom of the third for the Rays, but Foltynewicz struck him out with ease. Kevin Kiermaier hit one to Albies, who easily tossed it to Freeman for the out. Mike Zunino, was next in the lineup, cracking a solo home run to tie the game 1-1. Choi was struck out by Foltynewicz to end the inning.

Ozuna started the fourth inning for the Braves, striking out on a 97 MPH fastball from Glasnow.  Matt Adams and Swanson also struck out to end the inning, making Glasnow’s strikeout total nine to end his night with the game still tied 1-1.

Lowe hit a pop fly to third base, with Riley easily catching it for the Braves first out in the bottom of the fourth. However, this was the beginning of the end for the Braves as Foltynewicz would walk Jose Martinez and Tsutsugo, allowing Renfroe to crush the ball to centerfield, giving the Rays a 4-1 lead.

The very next pitch, Wendle walloped the ball to right field to extend the Rays lead to 5-1. Foltynewicz’s night was over two pitches later, as Touki Toussaint would come in to relieve him on the night. Toussaint played in 24 games last year, with a 4-0 record as a starter. Toussaint’s first batter that he faced was Kiermaier. Adames was able to steal second on an error, and Kiermaier hit one to near second base, with Swanson struggling to get it. Adames was able to score giving the Rays a 6-1 lead.

Toussaint then hit Zunino with a pitch to give the Rays men on first and second, as the Braves struggled to end the fourth. Choi struck out for the second time and Lowe took over from there.  Lowe smashed the ball to centerfield, which allowed the Rays to score two runners, giving the Rays the 8-1 lead with a man on third.

Martinez was next at bat, with Toussaint throwing a wild pitch, which allowed Lowe to run home to give the Rays a 9-1 lead. Toussaint finally ended the inning with a 94 MPH fastball.

Diego Castillo replaced Glasnow for the night, striking out Riley. Inciarte hit a grounder to first, which was an easy out for Choi. Contreras struck out to end the top of the fifth inning, with the Rays leading 9-1.

Tsutsugo hit one to Albies, who tossed the ball to Freeman for an easy out. Renfroe came up next and crushed one to left center to give the Rays the 10-1 lead. Wendle and Adames came up for Rays after the solo home run, but were left swinging by Toussaint, to end the fifth.

Jalen Beeks replaced Castillo in the top of the sixth, the ball getting away from Zunino, which allowed Acuna to run to first. Adamas made an error, which allowed Albies to get to first and Acuna to advance to second.

Freeman hit a line drive to left, allowing Acuna to run home. The Rays still led 10-2 with two outs, and Albies and Freeman on first and second. Beeks caught Ozuna swinging on an 88 MPH change-up, for his second strikeout.

Adams hit a three-run homer to left, to give the Braves hope in the top of the sixth, making the score 10-5. Swanson was next on deck, but was left swinging for another strikeout from Beeks. Riley came up next hitting a foul ball to right field, which was caught by Renfroe to send it to the bottom of the sixth.

Kiermaier was left swinging by Toussaint, who had six strikeouts on the night.

In the bottom of the sixth. Choi was back at the plate, but was walked by Toussaint on a full count. Lowe was back on deck for the Rays, cracking one to deep left field allowing Choi to advance to third and himself to advance to second on a double. Martinez came up for the Rays, cracking one to center to send Choi and Lowe home, giving the Rays a 12-5 lead. Tsutugo was next at bat, hitting a ground ball to Albies who tossed it to Freeman to end the inning.

AJ Minter began warming up in the bottom of the sixth. Inciarte led off in the top of the seventh, going behind 0-2 early, and left swinging. Contreras came up next and was left swinging as well. The Braves had struck out 16 times up to this point.

Acuna came up next, being 0-3 on the night, however this time he cracked one for a single. Albies came up next crushed one to center, but not hard enough as Margot had an easy out with the Rays still leading 12-5.

Minter would now take the mound for the Braves at the top of the seventh. Renfroe would be the first batter Minter would face, who would be left swinging at air for a strikeout. Wendle came next in the lineup, cracking it into center to make it to first. Adamas hit it down the left field line, driving Wendle home giving the Rays a 13-5 lead.

Manuel Margot, the former San Diego Padre, would see his first action of the season for the Rays, smacking the ball to the centee which would easily be snagged by Albies. With Adamas on second, Kevan Smith would also see his first action of the game, but would be walked by Minter.

Brian Snitker had seen enough, bringing on Dayton in the bottom of the seventh with two outs.  Choi would be the first batter that Dayton would see, leaving him swinging with two runners at first and second, the Rays still leading 13-5.

Charlie Culberson would replace Freeman in the lineup at the top of the eighth, with Adam Duvall batting behind him. Culberson would be left swinging at the plate. A bad throw from Wendle, led to a collision between Choi and Duval at first, thankfully nobody was injured.

Adams would take the plate again and strikeout, taking the Braves to the bottom of the eighth, down 13-5. Martinez would crush one to left field, extending the Rays lead, 14-5. Renfroe would come back to bat, and hit a tapper to the infield, allowing Contreras to toss the ball to Culberson to allow the Braves to get their second out of inning.

Wendle crushed one to left center, where Inciarte coolly grabbed it near the wall. Jesus Alvarado replaced Beeks, who had seven strikeouts on the night, for the Rays in the top of the ninth.  The first batter he’d face was Adeiny Hechavarria, who would send the ball to left field, between the legs of Wendle.

Riley hit one to the infield, allowing to Rays to get Hechavarria out, but didn’t make it to first in time. Alvarado would strikeout Inciarte and Contreras to end the game, with the Rays winning 14-5.

The Braves are set to face the Rays again Tuesday at Tropicana Field at 6:40 p.m. ET.

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