Brace yourself, everyone, I have some shocking news for you. If you are standing up, you may want to consider sitting down before you read on. Okay, fine, stay standing, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. Here it goes: the Atlanta Braves lost a game on the road. I know, I know, I know, it is such an infrequent occurrence it is hard to believe. But believe it you must, if you want to be the least bit grounded in reality.
How did such an unthinkable thing come to be? The Braves jumped out to an early lead, scoring three runs in the top of the second, and led the game 6-3 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning. Matt Wisler held the Rays to two runs over five innings and left his team in a good position to win, even though he gave up seven hits and two walks and seemed to be in trouble every inning.
Then the bottom of the seventh happened. It was so hideous that it isn’t even worth recapping, so long story short the Rays batted through their lineup and put six runs on the board to take a commanding lead. The icing on the proverbial cake was when the go-ahead run scored after Matt Marksberry couldn’t step on first base for the third out and then proceeded to glare at the umpire while totally oblivious to the runner streaking around third. Fun times in St. Pete. My sympathies go out to Rob and anyone else who witnessed this game in person. The last two innings were played as a formality, but they really needn’t have bothered.
The real tragedy of this game was that the Braves feast-or-famine offense, which is either shut out or scores a gazillion runs on any given evening, showed up in feast-mode on a day the Braves bullpen forgot the object of the game is to stop the other team from scoring and Fredi Gonzalez forgot he is allowed, under the rules, to remove a pitcher in the middle of an inning. Marksberry pitched 2/3 of an inning and allowed 5 runs (only three of which were “earned”, thanks to his own error). Of course, it’s not like the Braves bullpen is teeming with great options, but when a guy really doesn’t have it one night, it might not be a bad idea to stick someone else out there to see if he does.
The bottom of the Braves lineup contained the offensive heroes of the evening, as Joey Terdoslavich went 2-for-3 with two doubles, a walk, an RBI, and two runs scored, and Pedro Ciriaco went 2-for-3 with a run scored and four RBIs. Cameron Maybin also picked up a couple of hits, including a double of his own.
During the broadcast Chip related a story about Melvin Upton back in his B.J./Rays days. Allegedly, Joe Maddon repeatedly asked B.J. to play further back, but B.J. refused to do so and continued to play shallow. So one day while the Rays were on the road, the grounds crew at Tropicana Field tore up the turf and moved the star in centerfield back 20 feet. When the Rays got home again, B.J. jogged out to his position, positioned himself on the star as he normally did, and Maddon was happy. I don’t have a clue if that story is true or not, but if it is, it’s pretty funny. I would think that a major league player would be able to gauge where he is playing on his home field based on more than just the turf design, but clearly I would be wrong.
The Braves have now dropped 15 out of their last 19 games on the road since the start of July, which really makes me want to stay up late and watch them play in San Diego next week. Can you feel the excitement and anticipation? Speaking of the Braves schedule, they get another off day tomorrow, since nothing makes a two-game series better than being sandwiched between off days. Then they play one series at home, two on the road, and another at home before they get another off day, which randomly comes in the middle of a nine-day home stand. They then repeat that—a road trip sandwiched between home stands without an off day—with their next off day coming in the middle of a ten-game home stand. It’s odd to see a team go six weeks without having an off day on a travel day, but that’s what the Braves are heading into.
The only thing worse than a day with Braves baseball this season is a day without a Braves baseball. Since we get another one of those on Thursday, in addition to anything else you feel compelled to post, I would like to open the floor for a discussion on who the worst five players in Braves franchise history are. While there are no strict parameters for this exercise, I am talking about those who have made a negative impact on the team rather than simply those who put up bad numbers (so, if someone went 0-for-10 in his Braves career, he would be tied for worst batting average but his overall impact would be negligible). If you are so inclined, post your reasonings behind your nominations so inquiring minds can see how you came to your conclusions. And if you want to declare who you consider to be the worst player to ever don a Braves uniform, I would be very curious to see who you come up with.