ATLANTA (AP) — 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, hurt his cause by walking two, hitting another batter with a pitch and throwing a ball away at the plate. He lasted only 1 2/3 innings, completing a largely impressive spring at 2-2 with a 4.22 ERA in seven starts.
“He’s been perfect until today,” Reds manager David Bell said. “The focus and concentration were there, but I think he’s just so ready for the season. There’s no concern.”
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.
Roark breezed through the opening inning but 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. 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. Donaldson’s drive just below the 385-foot marker made it 5-0 and finished off Roark.
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, that may have been a wise decision given some of Puig’s mishaps on the basepaths.
On his third team in a week, Joyce is hoping to make the Braves’ roster as a fourth outfielder.
The 34-year-old was released by Cleveland last Tuesday and signed with San Francisco, then was dealt to the Braves this past weekend for cash.
He went 0 for 2 but also had a sacrifice fly to finish with two RBIs.
Robert Stephenson, bidding for the final spot in the Cincinnati bullpen, gave up two runs in two innings. The right-hander is competing with Matt Wisler and Wandy Peralta.
BRAVES’ YOUNG ROTATION
Atlanta will start a pair of rookies in its three-game series at Philadelphia to open the season.
After veteran Julio Teheran makes his sixth straight opening day start on Thursday, the Braves turn to a couple of kids.
Bryse Wilson gets the nod Saturday in what will be the second start of his big league career. He went 2-1 with a 3.29 ERA in five appearances this spring.
Kyle Wright takes the mound for Sunday’s prime-time game against the Phillies. It will be the first career start for the 2017 first-round pick.
Reds: LHP Alex Wood is continuing his rehabilitation from a lower back injury at Cincinnati’s spring training complex in Arizona. He could be ready to rejoin the team on a West Coast trip in mid-April. ... Top prospect Nick Senzel had to leave a minor league spring game after injuring an ankle on a slide. Bell said he was “anxious to see” the results of an exam to determine how seriously Senzel was hurt. He is expected to begin the season at Triple-A.
Braves: RHP Kevin Gausman (shoulder) expects to rejoin the roster for an April 5 start against Miami. RHP 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.
The teams meet again Tuesday afternoon at SunTrust Park in their final exhibition. Wright (1-2, 7.11 ERA) gets the start against Cincinnati’s Anthony DeSclafani (1-0, 3.66), who is set to go next Monday against Milwaukee.
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