Cincinnati right-hander Tanner Roark was roughed up for five quick runs in his final start before the regular season, and the Atlanta Braves defeated the Reds 8-5 in an exhibition game Monday night.
Roark, acquired from the Washington Nationals as part of a major offseason overhaul, allowed three hits and hurt his cause by walking two, hitting another batter with a pitch and throwing a ball away at the plate. He finished a largely impressive spring at 2-2 with a 4.22 ERA in seven starts.
Eugenio Suarez and Derek Dietrich homered for the Reds, while Atlanta’s Dansby Swanson also went deep. Former AL MVP Josh Donaldson, the Braves’ big acquisition of the offseason, doubled off the base of the wall to drive home a run in the five-run second that chased Roark.
After breezing through the opening frame, the Reds starter walked the first two hitters of the second. Ozzie Albies followed with a run-scoring single before Tyler Flowers was plunked with a pitch to load the bases. Matt Joyce grounded into a forceout to bring home another run, hustling down the line to beat a double play as he attempts to earn a spot on the Braves’ bench. That turned out to make a difference when Dansby Swanson hit a dribbler back to the mound, which Roark barehanded and zipped home in an attempt to get Albies.
The throw was terrible, actually striking Swanson’s discarded bat in front of the plate and deflecting past catcher Tucker Barnhart. Ender Inciarte had a sacrifice fly before Donaldson’s drive just below the 385-foot marker made it 5-0 and finished Roark after 1 2/3 innings.
The game began in rainy weather that produced a dazzling rainbow above the left-field stands.
Max Fried (1-1), who will begin the season as Atlanta’s fifth starter, pitched two hitless innings with one walk and two strikeouts.
Yasiel Puig was thrown out at third base to end the third, not even bothering to slide as he was tagged by Donaldson. Of course, given some of Puig’s basepath mishaps and this being merely an exhibition, that was probably a wise decision.
Reds: LHP Alex Wood is continuing his rehabilitation from a lower back injury at Cincinnati’s spring training complex in Arizona. He still has to go through a rehab assignment but could be ready to rejoin the team on a West Coast trip in mid-April.
Braves: Two starting pitchers will begin the season on the injured list. Kevin Gausman (shoulder) expects to rejoin the roster for an April 5 start against Miami. Mike Foltynewicz, coming off an All-Star season and projected as the team’s top starter, is set to make a rehab start at Triple-A Gwinnett next week and return to the big leagues around the third week of April after battling elbow issues. The bullpen also will be short-handed on opening day: relievers A.J. Minter (shoulder) and Darren O’Day (hamstring) are going on the injured list, as well.
The teams meet again Tuesday afternoon at SunTrust Park in their final warmup for the regular season. Braves rookie Kyle Wright (1-2, 7.11 ERA) will be prepping for the first start of his big league career Sunday night at Philadelphia. Cincinnati counters with Anthony DeSclafani (1-0, 3.66), the No. 4 starter who is set to go next Monday against Milwaukee.