Gutsy pitching change pays off for Snitker

Braves interim manager gets first victory after going to Vizcaino for 4-out save

Gutsy pitching change pays off for Snitker

PITTSBURGH -- Brian Snitker understood the risk he took when he removed Julio Teheran to provide Arodys Vizcaino a four-out save opportunity on Wednesday night at PNC Park. But this was the kind of moment and challenge he had long desired while spending parts of each of the past four decades serving as a Braves Minor League manager in 10 different cities.

Once Vizcaino stranded the two runners he inherited from Teheran and pitched around a ninth-inning home run, the Braves claimed a 3-1 win over the Pirates and then celebrated in the visitors' clubhouse after Snitker's first victory as a big league manager.

"It feels great, really good," Snitker said. "It only took me 40 years to get one. It's a great feeling, especially since we played such a good ballgame."

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When the Braves dismissed Fredi Gonzalez on Tuesday, they filled their managerial position on an interim basis with Snitker, who has been a part of the organization as a player, coach and Minor League manager dating back to 1977. He drew his first managerial assignment for Class A Anderson in 1982 and then spent the past four decades enriching the lives and careers of many of the players who have reached Atlanta.

"For as long as I've known him and as long as he's been a baseball man, what a great feeling tonight," Braves outfielder Jeff Francoeur said. "I don't think there is anyone in this room who could feel the happiness that he felt."

Vizcaino's four-out save

Before soaking in the happiness, Snitker savored the stress that he encountered when he opted to lift Teheran with Andrew McCutchen coming to the plate representing the go-ahead run with two outs in the eighth. Teheran entered the inning having retired 17 of the past 20 batters he'd faced and his pitch count was at 91.

"[Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell] and I had talked and it felt like at that point with two outs, if [McCutchen] is going to get it, I want him to get it off [Vizcaino]," Snitker said. "If he hits a three-run homer there, then so be it. I just liked that matchup better."

McCutchen caused a couple hearts to skip a beat when he drilled a line drive that stayed right of the right-field foul pole. Vizcaino then finished the inning by getting the former National League MVP to fly out to center field.

"That was a big play in the game," Snitker said. "I about swallowed my tongue when he rifled that one down the right-field line."

Vizcaino gets out of jam

Vizcaino's second four-out save of the season preserved Teheran's latest impressive effort and the decisive sixth-inning solo home run hit by Tyler Flowers, whose wife served as a mentor to Snitker's daughter as she recently completed a nursing internship.

As Snitker soaked in the moment and the long road he had traveled to experience this thrill, he thought about all of the sacrifices his wife and children made to make this opportunity possible.

"Everything we've been through, it's amazing," Snitker said. "My family has sacrificed a lot. They're such a big part of my life. I know they'll be really happy tonight."

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.