TWENTY-THREE OUTS FOR JULIO
Just after the twelve o’clock hour, a young man by the name of Julio Teheran took his place atop a raised mound of dirt. The kid from Columbia, with fingers as long as Peachtree, gripped the ball waiting patiently for the first of twenty-seven bad guys to step into the box. 28,000 spectators, most ditching work, were still settling into their seats when Julio released his first pitch.
The umpire declared, “strike one!” Foreshadowing has never been so foreshadowy.
Julio’s arm action was loose. His mid-nineties gas, easy. And for a few hours today, hitting the kid wasn’t just hard. It was impossible.
Up and down the opposing lineup, he made fools of supposed threats—McCutchen and Martin. Jones and Alvarez. The same pitches that dazzled Atlanta fans baffled those wearing yellow and black. And then Brandon Inge rose from the bench and decided to play Pirate, stealing Julio’s ultimate treasure—the no-hit bid.
Legions of Braves fans tried to catch the ball off his bat—from their seats. From their living rooms. Their offices. Their Twitter feeds—but to no avail. It wasn’t meant to be. The ball found green grass instead of brown leather, and out #24 became hit #1.
Four outs shy. Four measly outs. Braves nation hung its collective head.
But now, I raise my glass.
To Julio. The kid from Columbia with fingers as long as Peachtree. Thanks for the ride this afternoon. It was a pleasure to watch you paint.
23 straight outs for a kid only 22 years young.
Hopefully he doesn't wait ‘til he's 28 to get all 27.