Braves 2, Pirates 3

ESPN Box Score

An auspicious beginning and a masterful Alex Wood start turned sour in a hurry and reminded us that the Braves are still the Braves. Honestly, that’s a bit of a relief—I had been growing worried that we’d lost them somehow.

A Jason Heyward walk in the first set a positive tone, and he came around to score on a Justin Upton single. In the top of the 6th the Braves had a great chance to pile more runs on, but they only got one out of a bases loaded, one out situation (who am I kidding, they actually got one! Are we already so far removed from last week that I am complaining about this?) Chris Johnson knocked in that run, but Freddie Freeman was thrown out by a mile also trying to score, and an Evan Gattis strikeout ended the inning.

Wood looked awesome until the 8th, having only given up three hits and faced one over the minimum. He gave up a leadoff walk to start the inning, though, and those always come back to haunt you. A ground rule double later he was out of the game. Jordan Walden relieved him and got a groundout to first for the first out and the first Pirate run of the game. Then the Pirates tied the game on a wild pitch, and Wood’s gem was wasted.

The 9th inning brought more heartache to a Braves team that has seen plenty of it in August (just keep repeating to yourself, “at least they are not the Rockies…at least they are not the Rockies…”) David Carpenter gave up a leadoff bloop and then recovered to get Andrew McCutchen to popup for the first out. Starling Marte followed with a shot to left-center, which bounced off of Justin Upton’s glove after neither he nor his brother bothered to call for the ball. B.J. nearly ran into him, and the Uptons’ inability to communicate left runners on second and third with one out. A sac fly later that was that.

The Braves did end up winning a series on the road, so that’s a marked improvement already over their last road trip. You can’t win them all, unless you’re the Nationals and then you can win them all unless you’re playing the Braves.

The Braves head to the bandbox in Cincinnati next, where they take on a lefty with a 16.87 ERA tomorrow night. The Braves have had decent success against lefties this season and counter with their ace, so I’d be shocked if the Reds don’t win 10-0 because that’s baseball.

Natspo(s) delenda est.

68 thoughts on “Braves 2, Pirates 3”

  1. San Francisco, St. Louis, Washington, and obviously Pittsburgh all won tonight.

    There’s going to be enough nights when we just get beat. When can’t be letting games slip away when we’re in position to win.

    This one has the feeling of one we’ll look back on.

  2. Wow ….you start a five game win streak six games out of first and you end it seven games out…..
    How demoralizing is that?

  3. Sometimes, on mornings after games like this, I go check the tail end of the game thread just to make sure the loss is being pinned on issues of organizational philosophy and individual character.

    (Another great recap, ‘Rissa. Go Braves.)

  4. @2 – I’m reminded of a saying we had at my last job: “It only takes one ‘ah, sh*t’ to cancel out ten ‘attaboys’.”

  5. The only decision from last night that I would like to pin on either Fredi Gonzalez or the Front Office is the decision to put B.J. on the field.

    The others are on the players.

  6. ‘Rissa great recap. I hope the team has enough time to pry their fingers from around their own throats.

  7. If I recall last nights game thread the 8th inning double was on a 0-2 pitch, correct? And Alex proceeded to throw a ball into the strike zone? (face palm)

  8. Alex Wood was pitching to some pirate named Snyder. Gaby Sanchez, current possessor of one of MLB’s more dubious titles, was on first base, having drawn a walk.

    Wood started off Snyder with a curveball for a strike. It was a good one, starting belt high and perhaps a little in and then diving sharply. To my surprise, he threw nearly the same pitch for a second strike. So he had the dread pirate leaning o’er the rails and looking into his watery grave, as it were. Wood’s fastball was wonderful all night; meanwhile, he’d been showing Snyder curves that started at the top of the zone. Opportune time to throw a dead-red heater at the same level as Snyder’s eye patch, just to see if the memory of the high curves would prompt him to swing.

    Alas, major league hitter is a major league hitter, and you’ve got to be throwing some kind of curveball to sneak one by three times in a row. Wood threw his curve to the same location, only this one didn’t break quite so much. It sort of rolled up and down a very gentle hill of air, so that it ended up just below the belt and middle-in. And thus concludes the story of a very, very poor idea of an out pitch.

  9. Rissa,

    One “pick” I have is that, to me, although the ball was hit a long way, the use of “shot” is somewhat misleading. BJ had time to get there AND turn and square toward the plate (still moving laterally a little). Justin was on a pretty good, but not absolute max, run from left, and got there. This ball should be an out at an interval approaching 100% (unless Pete Incaviglia is in left and “old Jim Edmonds” is in center).

  10. In the month of August, BJ Upton has 59 plate appearances and has put up a .137/.241/.294 line with 19 strikeouts.

    In the same timeframe, Boneface has 43 plate apperances and has put up a .250/.302/.250 line with 10 strikeouts.

    I will leave you all to draw your own conclusions.

  11. Edward at 7,

    My guess is that was (a) scouting report says Snyder can’t hit a good curveball and (b) Wood is really in a groove with that thing now and “feels it.”

    An off the wall thing. A lot of the time when I watch on Gameday, I pick up that other teams tend to pitch to the same area over and over on a particular batter, but the Braves are more “up and down, in and out.” Live, I don’t notice it as much because I don’t have those “contrails” across the screen. Am I crazy, or is this true?

  12. Alex and Evan should have figured that out. No way there should have been a pitch any where near the zone. Chalk that up to inexperience. Or its Fredi’s fault.

  13. @10 – So, Fredi has ~56 million reasons to play BJ. But at some point in time wasn’t Vernon, worst contract in history, Wells benched?

  14. The ball should’ve been BJ’s. That’s the center fielder’s ball, he needs to call Justin off and make the catch. However, since he apparently didn’t call, Justin was right to have a go at it. I guess he should’ve caught it since it hit him in the glove, but he shouldn’t have really been in that position to begin with.

    I might’ve intentionally walked Sanchez, but with the hitters behind him, I don’t really have a huge issue not doing that. Carpenter isn’t really a ground-ball pitcher, anyway.

    Also, all of this happened after we had already blown the game anyway. Yeah, it eliminated any chance we had to win the game, but it’s not like it took a win and turned it into a loss.

  15. You know it’s tough to when games when you’ve only got 3 good hitters in the line-up at any given moment.

  16. Bowman’s new piece

    Bethancourt, who is on Triple-A Gwinnett’s seven-day DL with a bruised left hand, will almost certainly be with Atlanta at the beginning of next year. The success he had while handling the catching duties for the first few weeks of July increased reason to believe the Braves should try to trade Evan Gattis to an American League club this winter.

    We better be receiving one hell of a package.

  17. Jason Heyward was a terrible hitter in April. We can’t pretend like April didn’t happen, but since then he’s been pretty darn good.

    His WRC+ by month:

    April: 75
    May: 121
    June: 121
    July: 117
    August: 127

    A fine showing if I ever saw one.

  18. @17

    We better not move Gattis. If we do, it better be in a package where we get rid of BJ. Add a leadoff hitter and some pop.

  19. @9 Good call. I was using “shot” as in the hit was not a bloop. It was hit hard, but it was definitely catchable. Both of them could have easily caught it. I was shocked Justin said neither of them had called it and that it was “perfectly placed” right between them to make it hard to tell which one should have caught it. Well, yes Justin, that’s why you call the ball.

    @17 That paragraph caught my eye too. Interesting he basically called Bethancourt our Opening Day catcher next year. That’s got to be coming from someone in the organization for him to say it so boldly.

  20. @18 Isn’t that pretty much on par with his career numbers? I feel like he’s a slow starter, but I may be misremembering.

  21. April has been his worst month overall. But that’s only a function of the last couple years. Last year he was putrid at the plate in April and May before a great June, a pretty good July, a spectacular August and a good September.

    From 2010-2012 his April/May numbers were excellent. So perhaps this slow-start thing is the new paradigm, or perhaps it’s just the way the cookie has crumbled.

  22. @21, either that, or they’re trying to increase the value of one of their most tradable assets, especially given that the rest of the organization hasn’t had an awesome year, between Sims’s poor showing and J.R. Graham’s continued setbacks. They don’t have a ton of chips right now.

  23. Trading one of Heyward or Jupton in the offseason, depending on who’s not willing to sign an extension, for an elite pitcher or prospects? Yes.

    Trading Chris Johnson to a team desperate for a 3b for prospects? Yes.

    Trading B.J. Upton for another bad contract? Yes.

    Trading Jordan Walden for prospects? Yes.

    Trading Evan Gattis? I sure hope not.

    Actually, I’d be fine with the Braves trading the lot as long as that meant Gattis was here, an elite SP will be in the rotation next year, BJ was gone, and there was money to spend on the rest of the team. If I had to choose between Heyward and Jupton, I’d choose Heyward. Getting rid of all those contracts would set the Braves up quite nicely. If Jupton finishes in the top 3 for MVP, his price for a year rental would soar.

  24. We only have three good hitters. Trading any of them makes us worse. Trading Gattis is lunacy, unless we get a star CF in return, and BJ goes elsewhere.

  25. If you think Gattis is a true-talent .312 BABIP hitter, hold. If not, sell high and enjoy the nice return. Because his defense sucks.

  26. Well, Jesus Montero was a guy no one really believed would stick at catcher, and hadn’t produced anything in the big leagues, and he brought back Michael Pineda. The fact that Montero never hit and Michael Pineda immediately burned up his shoulder not withstanding, Montero seems like a decent comp for Gattis, with Gattis being older but with similar team control, and Gattis having the benefit of actually having a track record in the major leagues.

    It’s certainly possible that Gattis could bring back a guy you’d compare to Alex Wood.

    It’s possible you’d find a team that has young offense to spare but needs it at catcher, but I don’t have any ideas.

  27. I know Bowman is the official unofficial mouth piece for the Braves but trading a cost controlled catcher with plus power? From a team that has struggled mightily with the bat this season? Just him making shit up or a trial balloon from the FO? I dunno. DH is probably his best position and he is our most tradeable commodity but good Lord putting another .600 OPS in the lineup in the form of Bethancourt? Are we trying to be the Royals?

    So for to get Gattis an AL team:
    1. Has to take BJ and his contract with him.
    2. Provide us with at least a AA level high upside OF’r
    3. Give us a replacement level OFer that can at least fake it in CF.

    The hell of it is that if Gattis had enough PAs to qualify he’d be the second best C in MLB by OPS.

  28. I think Gattis will get better behind the plate. Don’t forget, he is still learning the possition. He seems like a hard worker who wants to get better.

    We lived with McCann back there. Gattis can become at least as good as he was behind the plate.

  29. Nah, the play here is to hype “Christian Bethancourt, MLB-ready catcher” for a while, then sell Christian Bethancourt, MLB-ready catcher, for prospects at positions of need. Or make him the sweetener in a BJ Upton dump. Let him spend five years learning to hit MLB pitching and figuring out which Molina brother he’s going to turn into somewhere else.

    At least I hope so, because I don’t think I could deal with the emotional turmoil of losing Gattis mere months after I got his bobblehead at the park.

  30. DOB just tweeted out that the Braves have 20 one-run losses this year: they’re 21-20 in one-run games this year.

    Actually, we’ve been really mediocre in those games in a lot of years. Here are our records in one-run games over the last several years.

    2007: 18-25 — team was 84-78
    2008: 11-30 — team was 72-90
    2009: 27-25 — team was 86-76
    2010: 23-22 — team was 91-71
    2011: 29-26 — team was 89-73
    2012: 29-16 — team was 94-68
    2013: 27-20! — team was 96-66
    2014: 21-20 — team is 66-61, so far

    So, judging by those results, we’re likely to finish with something like 86-88 wins. Seems pretty plausible.

  31. @34

    I think W.C.G. has hit the nail on the head.

    BJ, Bethancourt, Gosselin and Graham for two new packs of bubble gum cards and a used boardgame to be named later.

  32. So, since 2007, the Braves are 185-184 in 1 run games if my math is correct. About what you’d expect from a coin flip situation….

  33. @37

    Right, and ~$15 million to shore up the outfield and/or rotation.

    Depending on what happens here in September, I could see Todd Cunningham as our starter in CF to start the season next year.

  34. The elephant in the room is Evan’s bulging disk. He’s probably my favorite player from a fan perspective, but I understand selling high.

    Obviously we need to see what we would get back.

  35. Is it still bulging? Is that the sort of injury that hangs around?

    And does it take away from his bulging pecs?

  36. I’m not a medical guy or a disk guy, but my memory is that he got a shot for it. I assume that was for pain relief and not a cure. Hopefully I am overthinking it.

    I’m not a pec guy either, but no, it does not. :)

  37. Bulging discs are recurring things, I think. I mean, when the back goes wonky, it goes wonky and keeps going wonky. It’s really hard to fix a back without cessation of activity for a long time. You obviously don’t just give him away, but there are packages in the world that would make trading Evan Gattis a reasonable move.

  38. So David Price, facing his former team for the first time, retired the first man he faced, got the second guy, Zobrist, to ground out to shortstop, but his shortstop made a throwing error allowing him to reach. The next man tripled, driving in Zobrist. Price subsequently retired the next man to end the inning, and then went ahead and did the same to every single Ray he faced for the remainder of the game, and lost a 1-0 complete game 1-hitter.

    Don’t see that everyday.

  39. You can’t trade Gattis unless you have a plan for adding another 800+ OPS bat. This team would be utterly unwatchable if we traded him for pitching and ran out a lineup with BJ, Bethancourt, CJ, and Simmons every day.

  40. Saying Gattia sucks defensively is a split-second eye judgment that’s unwarranted. He’s simply average, much worse than anyone last named Molina, and much better than Laird.

  41. Here are all the catchers with more than 40 passed balls plus wild pitches (this is because the difference between a passed ball and a wild pitch is a friendly or unfriendly scorer.)

    Wilin Rosario: 53 in 714.2 innings (0.074 per inning caught)
    Tyler Flowers: 52 in 874 innings (0.059 per inning caught)
    Evan Gattis: 50 in 682 innings (0.073 per inning caught)
    Mike Zunino: 48 in 886 innings (0.070 per inning caught)
    Travis d’Arnaud: 41 in 695 innings (0.058 per inning caught)
    Salvador Perez: 41 in 955.2 innings (0.043 per inning caught)
    Yan Gomes: 41 in 887 innings (0.046 per inning caught)

    Then there are 23 guys with less than 40. I narrowed this to 500 innings caught, to get starting catchers, and magically I got exactly 30 qualifiers.

    You’ll note all of these guys has caught more innings than Gattis, some of them 25% more innings.

    If it seems like we’ve had a lot of costly passed balls or wild pitches, it ain’t your lying eyes.

  42. Seems like half of them have come from Walden in high-leverage situations. Gattis definitely has the ability to block balls, but he’s just not consistent. With a guy on 3rd the concentration level has to get kicked up a notch.

  43. Evan Gattis is perfectly mediocre on defense. That’s more than acceptable from one of the few productive hitters on the team.

  44. Rusty at 45,

    More likely the shot included either betamethasone or a steroid. The rest period was to allow the accelerated healing of that to take place.

    Sometimes those shots take for a long time. When the same pain comes back in 2 or 3 months, it is usually “knife time.” For an occasional or emergency catcher, backup first baseman, and right handed DH, post surgery would still be probably workable. But I don’t think that would work for an everyday catcher.

    And the pumping of Bethancourt could be like the builder with a spec house. Either he sells his spec house or his dwelling, whichever goes first.

  45. And again a 2-0 count and Gattis swings at a pitch a foot outside and makes a weak out. He decided to swing before the pitch left his hand

  46. I just don’t understand what they’re seeing in Bethancourt. He is Henry Blanco.

    I hope the Braves are just trying to boost his value.

    Could be that Gattis’ back is worse then the Braves are letting on.

  47. Pretty quiet here, so I’ll just say what we’re all thinking:

    8-0 in the 6th! That’s how you play a baseball game! Time to make up some ground on the…the Natspos delendid what now? Another walk-off win? Awferthaluva.

  48. Giants lost their suspended/protest game, so at least there’s that. I hate scoreboard watching for the wildcards because there’s too many teams to keep track of. But that’s what it has come to. Nats are too far ahead now. Hopefully they’ve peaked too early and we’ll beat them when it counts.

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