Six Braves pitchers threw a two-hit shutout and had a 2-0 lead in their Grapefruit League opener Friday against the Mets ... until the eighth inning.
That’s when, as manager Brian Snitker aptly put it, “Spring training broke out.”
Miguel Socolovich’s bid for a bullpen job got off to a rocky start when he was charged with all the runs in the eighth inning of the Braves’ 6-2 loss at First Data Field. The right-hander gave up three walks and three hits, including a two-run double by Zach Borenstein.
Socolovich recorded only two outs, and the last two runs scored on bases-loaded walks issued by Akeel Morris before Morris got the final out of the inning.
Other bullpen candidates fared considerably better for the Braves, including Anyelo Gomez, a Rule 5 draft pick from the Yankees in December. Gomez pitched a perfect fifth inning with a pop-up, a ground out and strikeout, displaying good command while topping out at an impressive 98 mph.
“That’s kind of what you’re looking for at the back end (of the bullpen), so that was good to see,” Snitker said. “Pretty impressive. And I heard that coming in, that this guy’s got a big arm. Just watching him throw sides and everything, I was anxious to see him in a game and it was really good.”
Gomez, who’ll turn 25 on March 1, had a 1.92 ERA in a combined 38 games (one start) at four minor-league levels in 2017, racking up 87 strikeouts, 21 walks and only two homers allowed in 70 1/3 innings for a strikeout rate of 11.1 per nine innings.
“Give it all I can, give my best effort and do everything I can to make the major league roster,” he said through a translator Friday.
The slender right-hander said after he was taken in the Rule 5 draft, he realized the Braves might offer a better opportunity for him to advance to the majors. He must be kept on their major league roster all season or be offered back to the Yankees for half of the original $100,000 claiming price.
Braves left-hander Rex Brothers pitched a perfect seventh inning with two strikeouts, lefty Sam Freeman pitched a perfect inning with one strikeout, and high-level starting-pitcher prospect Kolby Allard made his major league spring debut and gave up a leadoff walk before getting out of the sixth inning unscathed.
Allard got a big assist from journeyman outfielder Xavier Avery, who made a diving catch in right and threw to first base to double up the runner who reached on Allard’s walk.
Matt Wisler started for the Braves and pitched two solid innings, allowing two hits and no walks with one strikeout.