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Bailey Falter Passes Big Test Against Tough Braves’ Lineup



Bailey Falter, Pittsburgh Pirates

PITTSBURGH — If you questioned whether Bailey Falter’s start to the season would last or not, maybe his performance on Friday night at PNC Park steered you towards yes.

Falter entered Friday’s game against the Atlanta Braves coming off the best start of his career. Last weekend, Falter blanked the Cubs across a career-high 7.2 innings at Wrigley Field.

It was more of the same for the Pittsburgh Pirates’ left-hander against a powerful Braves’ lineup.

Falter carried a shutout into the eighth inning in the Pirates’ dominant 11-5 win over Atlanta at PNC Park. He cruised through the first six innings before finally — no pun intended — faltering a bit in the seventh.

“They’re very familiar with me, for me pitching in Philly, so they’ve seen me a few times before and have a great lineup over there,” Falter said on his outing. “Was happy to finally pull out a W against that team. Feels good.”

Falter went 7.1 innings and allowed three runs on six hits while walking one and striking out four batters. After he held the Braves scoreless for most of the night, Ronald Acuña Jr. hit a three-run homer to finally get his team on the board.

It was a challenge sinker from Falter and the reigning National League MVP got the best of it.

“I was just trying to announce my presence with authority, honestly,” said Falter. “The guy’s a good hitter. He clipped me, it is what it is, but the only thing that matters is we won.”

Other than the home run, the only other blip came when the medical staff came out to check on him in the seventh inning when his hip tightened up. Falter said after the game that he was fine.

Falter’s success this season goes well beyond his last two starts. On the year, he now has a very respectable 3.55 ERA through an even 10 starts now.

Since his clunker of a first inning in his first start of the year in Miami in which he allowed five runs, Falter has posted an immaculate 2.83 ERA.

At the time, there was a bit of a controversy when he won a rotation spot out of spring training, but he’s been one of the biggest surprises for the Pirates this season.

“Just rolling as much as possible,” he said on his season. “Things aren’t really going to change, I just want to give these guys three pitches or less, first-ball strikes, no walks and I want to get these guys back in the dugout as quick as possible. When we do that, good things like tonight tend to happen.”

Pitching in the big leagues is hard. It becomes even more difficult when facing a team like the Braves, who had four All-Stars from last season in their lineup as well as this year’s National League home run leader in Marcell Ozuna.

Before he grew tired as he approached his 100th pitch of the night, Falter made the Braves look more like a minor-league team.

“He did a good job,” said manager Derek Shelton. “That’s a good lineup, and they can score fast, as we saw in the eighth. He did a really good job moving his fastball to both sides. I thought he executed the fastball in probably better than he has all year.”

If Friday served as a test to see if Falter is for real this year, he passed with flying colors.

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