Last night I was drinking beer at a table in the bar that wasn’t in view of the television, so I had no idea what happened with a game till I got home. So I’m frustratedly writing this as I read the line score. It must have been even more frustrating to watch.
It’s really frustrating to see that the Braves got six walks and nine hits — including four doubles! — and only scored three runs. They literally had a man on in every innings, and got a man into scoring position in every inning but the second, fifth, and ninth, and couldn’t muster anything but two runs in the third and one in the fourth.
Mike Foltynewicz appears to be truly growing as a pitcher. He still walks too many people, he still throws too many pitches too early, and he still throws too many gopher balls. When they called him up to take Trevor Cahill’s spot in the rotation, I didn’t think he was ready, but it’s pretty clear that this is where he needs to be. He’s got more learning to do but there’s no better place for him to learn than at the major league level.
Our bullpen woes continue, though, and it reared its ugly head even before it reared its ugly head. The 7th inning has been the problem all year — our starters can’t get through it, and they have enough trouble even getting to it.
Foltynewicz started the bottom of the 7th inning at 95 pitches. Fredi probably had two reasons for doing so: first, the seventh-place hitter was due up in the top of the 8th, meaning that the pitcher’s spot was in the hole. And second, Fredi almost certainly doesn’t trust that the bullpen can get nine clean outs. And neither do we.
So, Folty started the inning, which made you wince but was defensible. He gave up a single to Brayan Pena on a 2-1 count. (99 pitches.) On the hundredth pitch, Zack Cozart laid down a hard bunt right back to the pitcher, and Folty threw it into center field. Men on first and second with no outs. And Fredi still left Folty in. On the 102nd pitch, Billy Hamilton bunted it back to the pitcher, and Folty remembered Mac’s classic advice — Take the Out, Stupid — and threw to first. Men on second and third, one out.
And Fredi still left Folty in.
Now, if you were going to complain about anything, you’d complain about that. The Braves knew that Aroldis Chapman was looming in the 9th, and the 8th inning man — Jumbo Diaz — had proved equally unhittable. But instead of playing for one run, Fredi let it ride with his starting pitcher. Predictably, on the 104th pitch, Folty gave up a sacrifice fly to tie the game; finally, Fredi stood up and yanked him for Avilan, but the horse was out of the barn. When Jason Grilli gave up a walkoff double to end the game, it was a foregone conclusion. The Braves were unlikely to score again.
So, we got Fredi’d. But, really, the offense should have given the bullpen a lot more Reitsma Room. So it’s on them, too.