Braves 9, Rays 5 (Nats 5, Phillies 4)

Let us consider, for a moment, the Phans.

Okay. Moving on.

I don’t have a lot of time this morning, so this will be a brief one. At this point, in the crush of a pennant chase by a young and exciting team that has real playoff ambitions, you should be watching them yourselves anyway.

The Rays jumped out to a two run lead early, pushing single runs across via singles, sacrifice bunts, stolen bases and sac flies. Joe wet himself a little in the booth, I suspect. Ozzie, Ronald and Ender combined to scatch one back bottom of three and Julio settled down for a couple of innings. That gave the Braves a chance to break it open initially in the home half of the fifth. The four run rally was also built off of singles and sacrifices (calm down, Joe; nobody wants to hear those noises on live television buddy) as well, but also involved a couple of gifts by shoddy Ray defense and a NeckMark double to cap it.

I think we may need to develop a more detailed rubric than Good Julio, Bad Julio going forward. Last night we got more of a Meh, That’ll Do, Julio. He wasn’t super effective. He wasn’t horrifically bad. He did give up a homer to a guy with a 570 OPS, but hey. Julio gonna Julio, man. But all told? Five and two-thirds, 6 hits and a walk, 5 k’s, 4 runs, all of them earned. Basically the pitching equivalent of Donkey from Shrek. That’ll do, Julio. That’ll do.

Jesse and Dan came in and held the fort for an inning, but Everyday Jonny’s day was not that day, and he coughed up the lead seventh. It was his first bad outing as a Brave and a blown save opportunity. But Brad Brach, whom I suggest we call BraBra going forward, came in to preserve the 5-all tie. Of interest, by throwing a single pitch which Carlos Gomez lifted into left for a fly-out to Ronald, and having his offense break out for four more in the bottom half, BraBra notched himself the “win.”

Baseball stats are so dumb.

Minter came on and closed out the ninth with no runs scoring, but he made it as interesting as possible while doing it. In the meantime, up in Philly, well… That happened. I don’t know how it happened, or what the Vincent Velasquez was thinking, but yeah. That really did happen. So, by the close of business, your Atlanta Braves were winners, the Phillies were losers, the Nats didn’t gain ground, and the lead in the division is up to 4.5 game. That is the largest lead held by either team all year, and the largest lead for Atlanta since close of regular season action in 2013.

118 thoughts on “Braves 9, Rays 5 (Nats 5, Phillies 4)”

  1. Not that anyone should be quaking in their boots, but it was interesting to read Kapler’s explanation of why the Phils got Bautista. Kapler said he’s there to identify pitch tipping.

  2. 5 2/3 IP, 4 ER sounds like bad Julio to me, but then again he didn’t pitch the team into an absolute blow out loss, and they were, in fact, able to actually win that game. So, there is that…

  3. I would love to see:
    – a season-long playoff odds graph for each division/league like Fangraphs provides for each game
    – by how much Velasquez’s blunder reduced the Phillies’ playoff odds by itself

  4. Kapler is getting killed on Twitter for calling out Velasquez with people saying that he shouldn’t have put Velasquez in to run though. At the end of the day, though, you want pitchers to be fairly station-to-station and listen to their coaches. I can’t imagine anyone coached Velasquez to try to take third with 2 outs in that situation, so it’s really not on Kapler that Velasquez pursued the extra base. Just a dumb decision.

  5. Five and two-thirds, 6 hits and a walk, 5 k’s, 4 runs, all of them earned. Basically the pitching equivalent of Donkey from Shrek. That’ll do, Julio. That’ll do.

    Four earned runs in 5 2/3 innings isn’t a “That’ll do.” That’s a pitcher who is trying not to lose his spot in the rotation to Jorge Campillo.

  6. @8, Fangraphs has the graph. Go to the Standings tab and click on Playoff Odds Graphs. As for the cost of the blunder, I’m not sure, but the POG for the NL East shows the Phillies’ playoff chances declining from 40.2% on Aug. 27 to 31.6% on Aug. 28. That takes into account the Braves’ win too, of course. Even without the blunder, the Phillies probably lose – if he doesn’t try to take third, there are still two outs and about a 65% chance that Washington wins in the next at-bat and another 10-15% chance that it wins in extras.

  7. Washington was visiting, so I think the Phils would have been favored if it had went to the 10th or beyond. Being the tying run for the home side, in scoring position already, in the bottom of the damned ninth. I can only assume that every coach and teammate were speechless when he took off. No way that’s on anyone BUT Velasquez, Twitter be damned.

  8. To be fair, the Mets have been flat-lined down there with them for a minute now too. The last non-zero bubble point is actually the Nats at 9.1%

  9. Braves have 31 games left, Phillies 30.

    If the Braves finish 16-15, the Phillies have to finish 21-9 to win the division.

  10. The big dive in the playoff odds had just as much to do with Atlanta, St. Louis, and Colorado all winning and the Cubs game being suspended as much as the Phillies lost. Plus, that also assumed the Phils were going to knock Velasquez in with two outs and then win it in extras. The baserunning blunder was bad, but it wasn’t that bad.

  11. Just listened to Kapler throw Velasquez under a bus.

    Way to go coach. He’s not instructed to run there, and you probably weren’t recommended to go with an inexperienced base runner in that high leverage situation. :)

  12. Kapler should never, ever, ever throw his player under the bus like that. His doing so is one of the reasons I tend to side heavily with the “have a baseball lifer as your field manager” theory of dugout and clubhouse leadership. Save the nerds and numbers geeks for the front office. That said…

    He had already used Roman Quinn as a defensive replacement in LF. That was a perfectly reasonable move, as he had a lead going into the 8th and Rhys Hoskins doesn’t get paid to chase down fly balls.

    He had already used Jose Bautista to pinch hit for Aaron Nola in the 7th. He had used Wilson Ramos to pinch hit for Scott Kingery in the 9th already. Ramos is, of course, a catcher. In a perfect world you want to pull him and put in someone who could score on a single.

    The Phils, like most everyone else these days, carry a reliever heavy roster. After the Ramos PH double, Kapler has one offensive player left on his bench. Maikel Franco.

    If he uses Franco to run and Alfaro fails to get him in, Kapler has to let Hector Neris bat for himself with two outs. Or, alternately, pinch hit for the reliever Neris with another pitcher. So, he has to choose between trusting a pitcher to run, or trusting a pitcher to hit. He wants Franco to bat next, so he opts to run Velasquez.

    Honestly, I think that’s the proper move. Velasquez is faster and more athletic than Ramos, that run is huge, and you definitely want Franco hitting next rather than a pitcher. The error was on VV for stupidly trying to take a statistically meaningless extra bag on a can of corn to center, not on Kapler’s usage decisions.

    That said, again, a manager should never, ever, ever throw his player under the bus like that.

  13. Reporter: Why did Velasquez tag up?

    Kapler: I don’t know. We don’t teach our guys to take 3rd on that, and no one told Velasquez to go.

    “HE THREW HIM UNDER THE BUS!!”

    I didn’t read that.

  14. No, Kapler’s not haranguing Velásquez, but what he should have said was something like, “I should have had our third-base coach call him over and make sure he understood the situation, etc.” Especially if you know that Velásquez is an “inexperienced” baserunner. You’re the manager. You assume responsibility for your player’s performance.

  15. Looks and sounds to me like Kapler, Sam, and Rob are all right. Actually seeing the interview, and reading Sam’s analysis of his options, Kapler made the reasonable move, and his comments weren’t inappropriate, IMO. An inexperienced base-runner got caught up in the moment, and got caught by the Nats and the ump.

  16. Kapler should have used him to run. Someone should have talked with him about it before he went out there.

    He’s also probably played baseball before. Tagging there and risk being the third out is a no-no.

    Kapler has totally handled the fallout poorly.
    Last night was a death blow for them.

  17. The 1993 Braves went 22-7 in September to win the division, so I don’t know if I’m willing to call the time of death on the Phillies. There’s still a lot of ball left. We definitely have the horses to fend them off.

    It’s been a while so we’ve made the playoffs so I’m foggy. Are match-ups determined before the Wild Card game? For instance, let’s say Braves/Cubs/D-Backs are your division winners. Colorado and St. Louis are in the one-game. Do they wait to make sure D-Backs don’t play the intradivision Rockies or Cards and Cubs?

  18. @30

    Death blow? Ehh, maybe today at 12:30 pm EDT, but by 10pm tonight, it could be just an unfortunate incident as the Phils close to 3.5 after Atlanta chokes away a win.

    Baseball has a funny way of keeping on keeping on, and letting one game mean too much can and will bust your chops for a week. Put it behind you and win today.

    Kapler didn’t, imo anyway, throw Velazquez under the bus, but he could’ve phrased it better. Anyway, Los Bravos need to worry about the Rays tonight, and let things take care of themselves.

  19. MLB removed the “no playing division rivals in the first round” rule when it expanded the wild cards.

  20. Regarding Kapler and whether he pointed the finger back at Velasquez, I find myself asking what Snitker would say in that situation, or what Bobby Cox would have said. Do either of those guys tell the public it was the runner’s decision and mistake?

    I’m not arguing that he threw his guy under the bus… I more or less let the comments at other sites dictate that conclusion. I don’t think Snitker points a finger at his runner even if the runner solely made that blunder.

    I am not, however, making it into a big deal. I just kind of laughed at Kapler and the Phillies when I heard him respond like that.

  21. He’s supposed to be the best of both worlds: half man, half machine. The RoboCop of baseball managers. But he gets labeled by some with this brush that he’s a sabermetrician above all else, and I don’t think that’s worked out to be true. So when he says something in a way that is not widely received, then it’s concluded that he’s a beancounter that doesn’t know how to lead a clubhouse, and I don’t think that’s the case here.

  22. VV was probably the best choice to pinch run, but Kapler also knows that he has very limited experience on the basepaths, so it’s on the manager to be very clear to him about not risking the third out.

    So I do blame Kapler for throwing him under the bus. You just don’t criticize a player like that. WWBD?

  23. I don’t think everything should be interpreted through the lenses of what Bobby would do. He was fallible just like every manager in baseball. ::ducks::

  24. I take a back seat to no one in the pleasure I got from the Phillies’ tough loss last night. But this race is far from over. We all remember 2011, don’t we? I also remember 1983. 76-54 on August 28 and in first place by a half game; finished the season 88-74 and lost the division by 3 games.

    I don’t think I’m being negative. I’m thoroughly enjoying this and I do expect the Braves to win the division. But I’m not counting on anything.

  25. @41–my tongue was at least halfway in my cheek. Bobby Cox had many flaws as a manager. There are many decisions that Bobby made that drove me crazy.
    But I do admire his public loyalty to his players, a trait that Snit appears to share.

  26. Oh, Bobby absolutely was fallible. I only mean to look at this through the lens of his interpersonal skills as a manager.

  27. I would be starting to get the feeling that this division was ours were it not for one thing. We play Philly in seven out of our last 10 games. All they would have to be is three back of us to potentially take 5 of 7 and force a tie for the division. We’re gonna have to go into that with at least a 4-game lead for me to think that the lead is anything resembling safe.

  28. Bobby was never known for his in game decisions; but for his ability to get the most out of players.

  29. Allard was recalled and Sobotka optioned for some reason.

    Edit: Some guy on Twitter claims that if Allard gets called back up before 20 days are up then he doesn’t burn an option year and that’s why he got recalled. Don’t know if that’s true.

  30. Also, I don’t know what Kapler’s supposed to say. Everyone and their mother knows that the baserunner isn’t supposed to do what he did, so even if Kapler lamely falls on the sword, everyone knows it’s BS unless he goes full-on with an enthusiastic: Yeah, I love people tagging up and moving to third with two outs! I want as many guys as possible to steal or try to stretch a double into a triple in that situation, too! Making the third out at third base is A-OK with me!

    And if he does that, he just looks like an idiot.

  31. On Minter, when he struggles, he looks very hittable. Hard to believe with his track record in the minors, but he really seems to have trouble putting guys away. Last night all he really had was the fastball, no secondary pitch even looked plus.

    I am skeptical that he will be the lights out closer I thought he would be before this year, but there may be some injury aspects at play and he did have a dominant run in him for a month and a half.

  32. AJ Minter, in his first healthy and full professional season, is 17th amongst relievers in fWAR. He’s 16th in FIP amongst relievers with a minimum 40 IP. He hasn’t been Kimbrel, but he’s one of the best relievers in baseball very quickly. If he could increase his durability a little bit in his sophomore season, he’ll be top 5-7 in WAR. I can’t possibly ask for more.

    Kimbrel is actually having a little bit of a down year if you look at FIP. As a result, he’s 26th in WAR, and he blew a save last night. If Minter and Kimbrel both convert the next 5 saves in a row, sample size will allow Minter to overtake Kimbrel in save percentage. So we got that going for us, which is nice.

  33. Fun Kimbrel fact: since 2012, he’s only been in the top 5 of reliever fWAR one time (last year). There’s really a lot of turnover in those top 5 spots.

  34. @51

    It was the Braves Option Guy who said that, and I tend to believe him.

    In other news, it hasn’t been mentioned on here yet that Rene Rivera has been claimed off waivers. So he will most likely function as the third catcher.

    https://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=3648&position=C

    Offensively, he hasn’t been that bad over the last couple years. He has better caught stealing percentages than both Flozuki. If anything, he’s a valid reason to give Flozuki some rest down the stretch.

  35. @51 – at the very least, this will free up the benched-that-day half of Flozuki to pinch hit. I’m honestly not sure there’s a better waiver wire RH batter who would improve on them in that regard.

  36. Yes, he is a nice bat to have off the bench. No, Lucas Duda cannot play either of those positions. The only position he can defend adequately is DH. He could give Freddie a rest day here or there I suppose.

  37. We don’t need him to play other positions. We don’t give guys days off and Culberson can’t get on the field as it is.

  38. So, to recap. AA traded Preston Tucker, Matt Wisler and Lucas Sims to Cincinnati for Adam Duvall. He then grabbed a better version of Preston Tucker (offensively) off the waiver wire going into the September stretch run.

    He might be good at this.

  39. This may be a little over-stated, but these little incremental moves that require some smart use by the field manager shows some confidence by AA in Snit. Not sure if others agree or if these are just vanilla moves to make the best with what you got.

  40. September looks like this:

    Flozuki/Freddie/Ozzie/Dansby/Camargo/Acuna/Ender/Markakis

    Culberson/Flozuki/Duda/Rivera/Duvall/Ruiz

    Folty/Newcomb/Gausman/Anibal/Julio/Touki

    Vizzy/Minter/Brach/Winkler/Venters/Carle/Biddle/Jackson/Freeman/Sobotka/Fried/Wilson/McCarthy/Moylan (hey, someone has to pitch blowouts)

    That’s 33 players, by the way.

    I’ve been critical (read: “pissing in the wind”) about not “undoing”, if there is such a thing, the accounting punt of the Kemp deal, but I’m really happy with the depth of the September roster going down the stretch to step on the neck of Philly, compete for home field advantage, and still be building for the future.

    Home field advantage! It’s in darn near September and we’re talking about home field advantage.

  41. Works both ways. Providing needed tools is good as well as expecting the manager will make good use of them.

  42. @73 Assuming Rivera and Duda take the two open 40man roster spots you still have to drop one for McCarthy.

  43. So Brach, Biddle, Jackson, Allard, and Freeman are available? I would guess Brach would close.

  44. Ugh, it would have been better if they hadn’t started this one.

    Seems like a increasingly common case of bad Newk.

  45. Newk has a disturbing little good Julio/bad Julio thing going on. And a 1.531 WHIP since July 1. Gross.

  46. Speaking of backup catchers, Willians Astudillo homered for the Twins tonight.

    And apparently he pitched in a game this year?

  47. Arrietta pulled after a 3rd inning Episode. Phils losing 5-2 in the 5th and gonna have to dig deep into the bullpen.

    I’m watching the Phillies broadcast because I can’t get the Braves game and the Nats guys are terrible. They heard about the Camargo dinger as I was typing and they just sound so defeated. Lol.

  48. A couple of bloops and a bop. Way to go Camargo. How did our guys remember all of a sudden how to hit? I’m sure glad they did. Hope Newk settles down.

  49. I don’t get it. Two easy outs and he can’t get the third. Three of five singles have been on the same pitch middle-in. He needs to stop throwing it there.

  50. Checked on the score and thought my Yahoo app was broken…it said 1st inning and both teams with 3 hits and 3 runs. Oh that actually happened?

    I really wouldn’t mind including Newcomb in a deal this offseason.

  51. Same damn pitch to Cron – middle-in. Damnit. I’m not sure I want Newk to go five.

    Three bad calls on that walk, but Newk is history. Get him out and save him for the next start.

  52. On July 29 Sean Newcomb took a no-hit bid into the 9th inning against the Dodgers. Snitker let him go back out to start the ninth, where he got one out before giving up a single. At that point he was pulled. In the game, Newcomb faced 28 batters and threw 134 pitches.

    Since that 134 pitch outing, Newcomb has pitched four games. His performance has suffered dramatically:

    ERA 5.48 , .311/.386/.478 slash line against. Batters are hitting combined 864 OPS against him. He’s giving up a .388 BABIP over that span.

    These stats do not include tonight’s start.

  53. Newk’s 1.579 WHIP vs. teams currently .500 or better is concerning, to say the least. (It’s 1.708 vs. the AL, so I’d rule him out for any World Series games, if possible.)

  54. Seriously, Ozzie? Are you paying even the slightest attention to your teammates’ plate appearances?

  55. I would just throw the game and have allard pitch the rest of it, save the bullpen.

    i did mention a couple weeks ago that it looked like julio and newks ERA’s were going to intersect, I think that now more than ever.

  56. Last year, in 19 starts, Newcomb had a 1.3 fWAR. This year, through 26 starts, he has a 1.7 fWAR. He has less K’s, but less walks, and his ERA seems to be lower due to a BABIP 60 points lower most likely due to better defense. At the end of the season, the FO might look at him and say he really hasn’t gotten much better this year over last year.

  57. That was a dumb challenge. Everybody’s sleepwalking tonight.

    For god’s sake, people, take a pitch!

  58. Anyone else suspect this is Rio “Big River” Ruiz’s last chance with Atlanta. The dude cannot hit at the ML level. He’s never going to. Who thinks he is a prospect, still?

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