Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  By ZACH DILLARD  |  Last updated 8/30/13
ATLANTA The Atlanta Braves continued their winning ways at home with a 2-1 win in a pitching duel that included two rookies and six relievers. Here are three observations from Atlanta's MLB-leading 82nd win of the season: 1. The Fernandez-Teheran was an odd pitching duel that still produced the expected results When Jordan Schafer stepped into the box for the first time Friday night, Marlins rookie Jose Fernandez boasted the best second-half numbers of any pitcher in baseball. Coming into his 26th start of the season one of the final starts of his brilliant, Rookie of the Year-quality season, as he's now 12 frames shy of his reported 170-inning cap the 21-year-old was 5-0 with a 1.53 ERA in his past eight starts. He had held opponents scoreless in three of his previous five outings. That changed in a hurry against the Braves as Elliot Johnson, of all people, laced a double down the line and Freddie Freeman put a Fernandez fastball just over the fence in center. Seeing any first-inning runs cross against Fernandez was surprising enough two was a shock to the system. Nobody jumps on Fernandez. Freeman's RBI were just the eighth and ninth runs the rookie has allowed in the first inning all year. Teams were hitting just .141.236.313 with three home runs and a pathetic 37 OPS (league average is 100) against him in the leadoff inning. As he walked off the field, Fernandez appeared to exchange some heated words with his bright orange glove which seemed to work. He did not allow another runner to cross, though Atlanta had its opportunities in the fourth. Fernandez's final line was typically atypical of a rookie who gave up two earned runs on his first eight pitches: six innings pitched, three hits allowed, two walks and eight strikeouts. In the aftermath, his ERA and FIP ballooned to 2.33 and 2.29, respectively. "They were both outstanding. They both had tough innings," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "I was really surprised for both guys' composure in those jams. They didn't let up I got a feeling those two guys are gonna match up for a lot of games in the future." Teheran was a more interesting case, as he came out firing striking out the side in the first before running into control issues and an escalating pitch count. Still, it's tough to nitpick when he gave up just one earned run (following a Fernandez triple, as chance would have it) and struck out eight as well. In the end, Teheran threw one more pitch, made one more out and gave up one more walk and one more hit. Oh, and he got one more win, too, the Braves' 48th win at Turner Field this season. "(Teheran's) been really consistent. Maybe an outing here and there, but he's been really consistent. It was one of those match ups that everyone's been talking about and it kinda came to fruition," Gonzalez said. "Last time it was Strasburg and Minor and both guys were out in the second inning, if you remember that." Friday night was not the best Teheran and Fernandez have to offer. They gave up just three runs and struck out 16. It's scary to think these two have combined to see just 43 years on this Earth and projected to get better and better with time. This looks to be a featured NL East duel for years to come. "I was really concentrating on this game. A lot of people were watching so I was trying to do my best," Teheran said. "I tried to do my best and show everybody what I can do I mean, when I saw they supported me with some runs, and what I said it's like, 'Now I have to do my thing.'" 2. Freeman continues to be the steadying force in the Atlanta lineup Even after missing 14 games with an oblique strain early in the season, Freddie Freeman has played in more games than every Braves player other than Justin Upton and Andrelton Simmons and he's offered much more offensive consistency than those two. As Gonzalez continues to tinker and toy with a lineup that seems to encounter new ailments every day (Upton missed Friday's game after getting hit by a pitch on the hand on Thursday night), Freeman has been the foundation. Though his numbers have dipped slightly since moving into the No. 3 spot full-time, he's still hitting .298 with six home runs there. Freeman, as previously mentioned, hit his 17th homer of the year off one of the best pitchers around in the Braves' 2-1 win, which, in case you missed the final score, proved to be the game-winner. The sales pitch of "Freeman For MVP" is an intriguing one for the best-player-on-best-team variety out there, for there aren't any Miguel Cabreras and Mike Trouts to compete against in the National League. His numbers aren't too shabby (.309.386..480, 17 HR, 3.1 WAR) but I'll pass on bestowing top honors on the 23-year-old first baseman. He's not quite there yet. Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen and what his .323.401.511 and 17 HR have meant for the best turnaround story in baseball St. Louis' Matt Carpenter and Yadier Molina and Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt still join the usual cast of characters: Votto, Wright, Posey. All of those names have similar or better numbers than Freeman, albeit not on the winningest team in baseball. Is he a candidate? Sure. But he's not leading the field. Pre-September money has to be on McCutchen. Video: Sounding Off: Teheran's ROY hopes 3. Evan Gattis was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett on El Oso Blanco night When Evan Gattis finally got an opportunity to hit in the seventh inning on his own personal night, El Oso Blanco Night, it was just his 37th August at-bat. He hadn't played in a single game since Aug. 23. It goes without saying that the bear-enthusiastic crowd roared its approval at the prospect of even more pinch-hit heroics from the franchise's own folk hero. But the Marlins intentionally walked the 27-year-old catcher to load the bases. The bat never left his shoulders. It was an appropriate action that served to support the team's actions earlier in the day: Atlanta optioned Gattis to Triple-A Gwinnett for the final three games of the minor league season in order to get him some extra at-bats. "We need to get him some at-bats. We really do. And that's the only reason we're sending him," Gonzalez said. "We talked to him earlier in the day and he's just not getting at-bats. And I think we just gotta use these next few days their season is over Monday to get him eight, 12 at-bats, maybe even more. Whatever we can get him just to get him going and back up and help us." After a powerful two-month start to his MLB career, posting a .952 OPS through May, Gattis has hit the proverbial rookie wall of late. In August alone, he's hitting at a .139 clip without a single home run. Along with Jordan Schafer and Dan Uggla, Gattis' second-half numbers are some of the worst on the team. The hope is for him to rediscover an offensive rhythm before rosters expand to 40 players and Atlanta goes on its stretch run. His opportunities may be limited but, as he showed earlier in the year, he could become a dangerous postseason bat off the bench if Gonzalez needs it. "Try to get my timing back, get some at-bats, see how it goes from there. I'm excited. I'm excited to get some continuous at-bats," Gattis said. "It's a positive, I think. It's going to be a good opportunity for me, go see some good pitching, some different pitchers. Four at-bats a game, just see where we stand after that." The Braves have yet to release a corresponding move.
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