It didn’t take the Braves long to find comfort in their new home, as they constructed a two-run first inning and benefited from Ender Inciarte’s latest home run to open SunTrust Park with Friday night’s 5-2 win over the Padres.
Playing their first official game in front of the 41,149 fans who flocked to their new stadium, the Braves jumped out early and watched Julio Teheran will himself through a six-inning stint that was only blemished during a two-run second, which included three consecutive two-out singles, the first of which was recorded by Padres starter Jhoulys Chacin.
“I feel really happy with myself,” Teheran said. “Obviously, we wanted to win this game, the first game at this ballpark for the franchise. We obviously wanted to win. I didn’t have my best, and I knew it was going to be a tough night for me. But I’m glad I got this moment. It was a special moment for me and the team.”
Teheran’s fourth-inning RBI single proved to be the decisive blow against Chacin, who surrendered four runs and eight hits over five-plus innings. Inciarte provided the Braves some comfort with a two-run, sixth-inning home run off right-handed reliever Craig Stammen.
Chacin surrendered hits to three of the first four batters he faced and faced a 2-0 deficit before he recorded his second out. Inciarte notched the stadium’s first hit with a leadoff infield single in the first inning, and he scored when Nick Markakis followed a Freddie Freeman double with one of his own.
“I battled pretty much all game,” Chacin said. “My pitches weren’t that good today. I wasn’t throwing enough strikes early in the count.”
Inciarte provided the Braves’ bullpen some breathing room with his two-run homer, which per Statcast™ had a 99-mph exit velocity and 40-degree launch angle (matching the highest launch angle recorded for a Braves home run during the Statcast™ era). The Gold Glove Award-winning outfielder has three homers in his past seven at-bats, or the same amount he had in 522 at-bats last year.
“I knew it was gone,” Inciarte said. “That’s all I got. After I hit it, I knew. I was looking for that pitch up in the zone. I put a good swing on it and I was able to get it out.”
Teheran wasn’t nearly as impressive as he’d been in his previous two starts, and his streak of 23 innings without giving up an earned run vanished after he hit Erick Aybar with a pitch and then allowed Chacin and Manuel Margot to record consecutive RBI singles in the second inning. The Braves’ ace allowed the Padres to produce two baserunners in two of the next four innings, but he stranded two when he ended his 105-pitch night by striking out Austin Hedges in the sixth.
“We didn’t stay in the strike zone,” said Padres manager Andy Green. “The entire night, it was chasing him and his stuff. It’s frustrating to see. … I don’t think he was as sharp as he normally is. I’ve seen him much better. He was beatable tonight. We didn’t take advantage.”
In 20 years at Turner Field, both starting pitchers drove in runs in the same game only seven times. It’s already happened at SunTrust Park. Chacin plated the Padres’ first run when he legged out a two-out dribbler to third base in the second inning. Teheran notched his RBI in the fourth with an infield knock. Padres second baseman Yangervis Solarte made a nice backhand stop, but his throw was low, and Myers couldn’t pick it at first.
R.A. Dickey will match up against Clayton Richard when this four-game series resumes Saturday night at 6:10 p.m. CT. Dickey will be pitching with two extra days of rest and attempting to bounce back from the loss he took when a few defensive miscues marred his six-inning season debut in Pittsburgh.