Mike Foltynewicz pitched the best game of his young career and it came against the defending World Series champions.
Foltynewicz pitched a career-high eight scoreless innings, Kelly Johnson and A.J. Pierzynski each drove in two runs, and the Atlanta Braves beat the Kansas City Royals 5-0 Saturday night.
“This guy did a lot of special stuff,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of his 24-year-old starting right-hander. “Not only was his line terrific, eight innings of shutout baseball, but we made a couple of mistakes, didn’t turn a (double play) ball, and he covered it up. For a young player to be able to do that, it was nice to see.
“He pitched in, he pitched up, his breaking ball was, it might be one of the best breaking balls he’s had. He had it throughout the game and he maintained it throughout the game.”
Foltynewicz (1-1) got his first victory since Aug. 8, holding the Royals to seven hits, while striking out four and walking none.
“I attacked and let the defense do the work,” Foltynewicz said. “ The defense played their butt off.”
He has allowed two runs and 12 hits with no walks and 12 strikeouts in 15 innings in his past two starts.
“He was that good,” Royals manager Ned Yost said.
The Braves (9-26) avoided matching the worst 35-game start in franchise history — 8-27, set by the 1911 Boston Braves.
Dillon Gee (0-1), making his first start for the Royals in place of the injured Chris Young, held the Braves scoreless on three hits over the first five innings, but retired only one of the six batters he faced in the sixth. He was charged with three runs and six hits, while striking out five and walking three in 5 1/3 innings.
“I just stopped locating the ball that last inning,” Gee said. “I left some pitches and they hit them, put good swings on them.”
The Royals, losers of 13 of 18, have not won consecutive games since April 21-22.
Foltynewicz came up with two big strikeouts in the first two innings to strand runners at third base. Kendrys Morales went down swinging in the first to leave Lorenzo Cain at third. Christian Colon struck out to end the second inning with Salvador Perez, who had doubled, at third base.
“We missed a couple of opportunities early,” Yost said.
Johnson’s opposite-field single with the bases loaded in the sixth scored Nick Markakis, who had walked, and Ender Inciarte, who doubled home Mallex Smith with the first run. Smith, who had three hits, led off the inning with a double.
Pierzynski’s two-out double in the eighth off Chien-Ming Wang drove in Johnson and Jeff Francoeur.
Smith led off the ninth with the Braves’ first triple of the season. They were the only the team in the majors without a three-base hit.
Royals: RHP Kris Medlen said an MRI Friday revealed a Grade One right rotator cuff strain. “I saw the MRI myself. I’m an expert now with MRIs,” Medlen said. “There was some fluid in there, some inflammation, a little tight. It’s a best-case scenario. It wasn’t like a progressive type thing. For the most part it was pretty mild compared to what it could have been.”
Over the past 13 games, Braves starting pitchers have logged a 2.89 ERA, allowing 26 earned runs in 81 innings.
The Braves released C Ryan Lavarnway, who was hitting .276 with Triple-A Gwinnett. Lavarnway hit .227 in 27 games last year with Atlanta and also appeared in 10 games with Baltimore. Lavarnway, who was drafted in 2008 out of Yale by the Red Sox, also appeared in 97 games from 2011-14 with Boston.