Kris Medlen didn’t have to think long for the last time he had a pitching line similar what he posted Monday against the Phillies.
“Never had an outing like that in my life,” said the Braves right-hander, who was charged with nine runs and 14 hits – yes, 14 — in five innings, with no walks and four strikeouts in the Braves’ unusual 17-10 slugfest win at Champion Stadium.
Medlen has a 15-2 record and 2.81 ERA in 30 regular-season starts, including 9-0 with an 0.97 ERA in 12 starts last season after moving from the bullpen to the rotation at the end of July.
He allowed as many earned runs (nine) in five innings Monday as in 83-2/3 innings as a starter last season.
As he noted, the hits and runs against him Monday “count” as much as the two singles he hit himself. Spring training games are glorified workouts, exhibitions in which a score is kept but results forgotten once Opening Day arrives.
That doesn’t make it any more pleasant to endure a shellacking like Medlen absorbed Monday, pushing his ERA to 6.27 in five spring starts. He threw fastballs in counts when he wouldn’t during the regular season and some got hammered during a seven-hit, five-run Phillies second inning that followed a six-run, seven-hit first for the Braves.
The other four runs off Medlen were in the fifth, including a Domonic Brown two-run homer.
He threw 84 pitches (62 strikes) after throwing fewer than 50 pitches in his last start. He blanked the Marlins on two hits over 4-2/3 innings last Wednesday before being hit by a line drive in the triceps of his throwing arm, which was fine a day later.
“I just felt like when I located it, I jammed some guys and (hits) fell in,” he said. “I made some good pitches and some bad pitches. Just taking a positive from it, I went from throwing 49 pitches (Wednesday) to throwing 84 today. I’ve got two more starts left and I’m not even to 100 pitches yet, so it was good for me to be out there kind of fatiguing a little bit.”
Manager Fredi Gonzalez said, “At least he got his pitch count up. That’s a good thing. I don’t think he went out there and did that on purpose, but that’s a good thing.”
Unusual game: Justin Upton had two homers and six RBIs for the Braves and Freddie Freeman added a two-run homer on a flyball that bounced off the glove of Phillies left fielder Darin Ruf and over the fence. (It was ruled a hit).
Nine Braves had hits including six with multiple hits; the only hitless Brave in the lineup was Dan Uggla (0-for-4, two strikeouts).
The Braves also had their first miscommunication among their revamped outfield when a fly ball landed between right fielder Jason Heyward and center fielder B.J. Upton with runners at second and third in the second inning. Heyward was set to catch it when Upton raced over and called him off.
“I’m surprised it’s taken this long,” Gonzalez said. “You’ve got three guys in the outfield who haven’t really played with each other and you’ve got two guys who’ve got above-average arms and they’re both trying to get in position to throw the guy out.”
Kimbrel returns: In his first game since returning from the World Baseball Classic, Braves closer Craig Kimbrel had one strikeout in a perfect seventh inning against the Phillies. He had a groundout and a Humberto Quintero fly-out short of the left field warning track.
It was the fifth Grapefruit League appearance for Kimbrel, who has allowed three earned runs, five hits and four walks. He also appeared in four games for Team USA in the WBC and allowed three hits and two runs in two-thirds of an inning to take a loss Friday against the Dominican Republic.
“He’s fine,” Gonzalez said. “He’s good. He’s right on schedule.”
Walden to pitch: After throwing his second batting-practice session without any difficulties, reliever Jordan Walden is set to pitch in a game Wednesday after the Braves’ day off Tuesday. Walden got an epidural injection last week for a bulging disk in his back and hasn’t pitched since his Feb. 23 spring debut.
After a day off, the Braves play Pittsburgh on Wednesday with Mike Minor facing Pirates right-hander Kyle McPherson.