In times past, that golden era of yesteryear, the word “streak” uttered in the same breath as the word “Braves” conjured up visions of division titles and new pennants gracing the outfield at Turner Field. Now, in this Brave(s) New World our fandom must embrace, “streak” deals not with what the team does, but with who the team is. This team is a streak—9 losses, 4 wins, 7 losses. A month into this season, the Braves’ true colors are obvious, and they are obviously ugly.
The nice thing about the current streak, unlike the first losing streak of the year, has been the old cliched “they’re in every game” line. If you’re going to lose 120 games (which the Braves may indeed do), it is a lot more entertaining to watch them lose a 1-0 pitchers’ duel or get the tying run on base in the 9th inning of a 2-3 game than have the score say the game is over by the 3rd inning. Braves baseball over the past week has, for the most part, been salvageable.
That was not the case tonight. Tonight was ugly from the opening gate until the painful finish. Matt Wisler gave up 4 runs in the top of the 1st to take all mystery out of the game, but managed to complete four more innings and only surrender one more run. The Braves chipped away with single runs in the 1st and 4th frames, but this offense was not built to get pitchers off the hook for losses.
Ryan Weber got the old take-one-for-the-team treatment when he was called on to finish out the last two innings of the game, a task he had to complete even though he surrendered 5 runs in the top of the 9th.
The Braves offense was nothing to write home about, but they did manage to put up 4 runs on the board, and Freddie‘s batting average is now above the Mendoza line. Neither of those things are great accomplishments, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and those are about the most positive things that can be pulled from this debacle.
Well, those, and the few seconds of defensive greatness Daniel Castro treated fans to in the 4th inning, when he channeled his inner Simmons and made Braves fans forget, for the briefest of moments, that the best defensive player in all of baseball no longer dons a jersey with a tomahawk across the chest. Andrelton Castro ran backwards, slid and caught the ball in his glove, immediately threw the ball out of his glove into the air, and recovered enough to catch it with his bare hand and secure the out. A throw back to 1st completed the double play and ended the inning. It was a catch of beauty, and, in the same way finding a $100 bill while you mucked out a stable would make the job almost worthwhile, Castro’s Simmons-esque moment made this game almost redeemable. Almost.