Reds 4, Braves 3

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.

35 thoughts on “Reds 4, Braves 3”

  1. I actually agree with letting him start the inning. Once Pena got a hit, he should have pulled him. Of course Fredi probably was on his cell phone talking to DOB about riding bikes over the break.

  2. I might be Fredi’s harshest critic, but I think leaving Folty in was completely defensible from a single game strategy perspective bc our bullpen is so bad.

    I wish he hadn’t done it, though, because in my opinion, it matters that a young starter builds confidence. After 6 innings, Folty had pitched impressively and could’ve left the game with a lead. The problem in my mind with running him out for the 7th is, he had already thrown 100 pitches, and you risk blowing the confidence building start should he give up the lead.

  3. No problem leaving Folty in. We are not supposed to be any good so this is all a learning experience for these young guys.

    And our bullpen sucks.

  4. I get the Smitty hate on Facebook and on Braves Journal. It’s getting more and more creative. I love it.

  5. Tyrell Jenkins pitched a gem yesterday in Miss, going 7 innings, yielding 1 run on 7 hits and zero walks with 4 K’s.

    That makes 1 run allowed in 13 innings of his last 2 starts.

    Miss Braves won the game 2-1 on a 2-run homer by Mallex Smith (his 2nd) who is now slashing .333/.364/.434

  6. @7 Fantastic article. It’s always amazing to look at those great pitching teams, but this really stood out:

    Perhaps most impressive is the fact that from 1991-93, the top four in the Braves rotation missed a total of one scheduled start — and that was after Maddux took a line-drive off his elbow in September 1993, and sat out his next turn, only to return four games later. At that point Glavine, Smoltz and Avery had not skipped a start in 586 games.

    In today’s game, can you even find one pitcher who has not skipped a start for nearly four seasons? Three on one team is incredible.

  7. I am no apologist for the current manager, but he’s going to be put in these Sophie’s choice type positions regularly and often.

  8. MLB.TV won’t let me have the Braves feed, so I am listening to the Reds’ broadcast. I am thankful.

    Eric’s headed for an early shower.

  9. Watching a soft tossing pitcher throw a pitch inside to Byrd, a pull hitter, on an 0-2 count made me pine for Leo Mazzone. What are we doing this year with pitch calling?

    I’ve realized Stults only has 2 problems: he can’t throw hard and he can’t locate.

  10. At the end of last season, who could have guessed that this season we’d be yearning for Wandy Rodriguez? How the mighty have fallen.

  11. Banuelos is probably next in line for a call up. You could also give the Williams a shot to start

  12. Would we not wait until after the super two line is passed before calling up Banuelos?

  13. We should have traded Bethancourt when he actually had value. He might as well just leave his bat on the bus

  14. For a guy we ran off for no discernible reason, pena’s been a serviceable backup catcher for a long time.

  15. @23 I dunno, Bethancourt looks like he *could* figure things out at the plate – he comes across (to me) as a gifted athlete.

    Obviously, whether he actually can or will develop as a hitter is yet to be seen. The cause is far from hopeless, however.

  16. Stults is simply a placeholder until the Braves decide to go to one of the young guns. Hopefully that’s no later than June.

  17. If you’re going to be completely embarrassed on a baseball diamond, it’s definitely a good thing to do it in two hours.

  18. KJ left with a strained oblique. That’s probably a DL stint. Todd Cunningham next up?

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