Flowers’ Grand Slam Guides Braves Past Reds

After helping Braves’ starting pitcher Sean Newcomb escape a pair of bases-loaded threats at SunTrust Park on Sunday afternoon, catcher Tyler Flowers ensured Cincinnati relief pitcher Drew Storen would not encounter the same good fortune. Flowers’ grand slam off Storen highlighted a six-run fifth inning that allowed the Braves to cruise toward an 8-1 win over the Reds.

While Newcomb managed to work out of trouble numerous times through five stress-filled scoreless innings, Storen allowed four runs on the first four pitches he threw. Storen replaced Luis Castillo, who struck out eight through four innings, and proceeded to retire just one of the first seven batters faced. The big blow came courtesy of the second career grand slam for Flowers, who has accounted for 11 of the 24 home runs he and backup catcher Kurt Suzuki have combined to hit this season.
“I told Suzuki today it’s hard to keep one of you in there because you’re both doing so well,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It’s good to see and Tyler did a really good job [catching Newcomb]. We really needed that one. It was good to get it like that because it was good to be able to stay away from some guys in the bullpen today.”
Newcomb managed to keep the Reds scoreless and notch his first career home win despite issuing four unintentional walks and allowing nine of the last 17 batters faced to reach safely. The rookie southpaw produced one of the two defensive gems needed to escape the bases-loaded threat in the third inning. He induced a Jose Peraza double-play groundout and then left them loaded again in the fifth when his outing concluded with Scooter Gennett’s flyout.
It didn’t look like the Braves were going to have much fun when Castillo struck out six of the first nine batters faced. But after the rookie hurler was limited to 90 pitches over four innings, Brandon Phillips greeted Storen with one of his three singles and Freddie Freeman followed with a ground rule double on the next pitch. Nick Markakis was intentionally walked before Flowers drilled a 1-0 slider a projected 405 feet into the left-field seats.
“In that situation, I was trying to hit a fly ball to right,” Flowers said. “It was a good approach to have off that guy. He’s a fastball, slider guy. If it was a fastball, I was trying to hit a fly ball to right to get the guy in and get the guy over for the next guy behind me. It was offspeed, so I just caught it out a little bit in front.”
It appeared Newcomb was in trouble when a Peraza walk set the stage for Joey Votto to come to the plate with one out and the bases loaded in the third inning. Votto was robbed of a potential extra-base hit when his liner was snared by second baseman Ozzie Albies’ leaping grab.
This gem was trumped moments later when Newcomb rushed toward Adam Duvall’s slow roller, dove to the ground and managed to provide an accurate flip to first base to record the out.
Flowers’ grand slam was the third hit by the Braves this season and the first recorded at home by an Atlanta player since Evan Gattis damaged Vance Worley with one during a May 22, 2013 game against the Twins at Turner Field. The Braves tallied six slams on the road in between these two most recent hit at home.
Mike Foltynewicz will attempt to halt his recent struggles when Atlanta opens a three-game series at home against Seattle on Monday at 6:35 p.m. CT. Foltynewicz has allowed at least five earned runs in three of his past four starts.