The Braves have not reacted well to Jason Heyward’s injury. For the third straight game in St. Louis, the offense failed to materialize, the pitching was pedestrian, and the Braves lost. That, incidentally, makes for 5 losses in the last 7 games.
There’s not a lot to say about this one. Shelby Miller out-dueled Julio Teheran, who was too wild and homer-prone to complain about the couple Grybos David Carpenter laid on him in the 7th. Overall, the 22-year old struck out 8 in 6 innings, but also walked 5 and surrendered 2 solo homers. It was just not a very good game for Teheran, regardless of the results. It was certainly not good enough considering the “offense” his teammates provided.
Atlanta position players were largely useless outside of Freddie Freeman’s 1st inning home run and Gerald Laird’s pinch-hit double in the 9th. The 7 innings in-between witnessed the same futility to which we’re beginning to become accustomed in St. Louis. Braves starters managed 5 hits between them, and that includes the aforementioned Freeman bomb. Only Andrelton Simmons managed to get more than 2 hits, and both were singles. All in all, the hitters looked no better than the pitchers. Taken together, that usually spells a loss.
And yeah, the Braves lost. I’d like to expend a few words on the manager, however, for he too played a role in the futility. I’ve largely sung his praises this season – insofar as I am capable, anyway. But last night was not one of Fredi’s stronger performances. A night after his starter complained about being lifted too early, Gonzalez lifted his starter two batters too late. Teheran entered the 7th having thrown over 100 pitches, and was frankly lucky to have allowed only the 2 runs to that point. That none of his 5 walks had come around to score was a minor miracle. But Fredi let Teheran start the inning, and lifted him after the latter served up 2 singles. Carpenter then entered the game in a far more unhappy situation than he would have otherwise. Pitchers are not as good in the stretch.
But that isn’t even my biggest concern. I’m beginning to get the feeling that Fredi agrees with the AJC beat writer and sees Jordan Schafer as an equivalent fielder to BJ Upton. He double switched BJ out of the game when he brought Carpenter into it, and set up his outfielders thusly: JUpton in LF, Schafer in CF, Terdoslavich in RF. That configuration simply invites extra base hits, which is what Matt Holliday provided almost immediately thereafter. Yet I digress. My larger point is simply this: BJ Upton is an average CF, and Jordan Schafer is a very bad one. If neither is hitting, you might as well shore up the defense.
Such nitpicking, though, distracts from the larger cause of ills: the Braves would have lost this game regardless of who was managing. They didn’t play well, and that includes the guys who should be playing well. This happens, of course. The lead is still an enormous 12 games, the team’s record is still the best in the league. Atlanta is still on pace to win 97 games. There’s really not much to be worried about here, save for Jason Heyward’s jaw. It would just be nice to win one in St. Louis this afternoon. At the least, that would pacify the nervous and, hey now, give the Braves the season series.