Can’t Win ’em All: Phils 6, Braves 5

The Braves’ 8 game winning streak, and their knack for scoring runs in the late innings, came to an end on Saturday.  The Braves led the Phils 5-4 going to the ninth, but Luke Jackson gave up two in the ninth, the Braves went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth, and the Phillies came away with a 6-5 win.

This game was billed as a spot start by Newcomb until Keuchel is ready to join the rotation, probably next week.  But I figured if we saw the new Newk, the strike throwing machine we’ve seen in the bullpen the last month, rather than the old Newk who walks everyone in sight, he could secure a place as a starter.  As it turned out, there are bigger questions about Sean.

Newcomb was sort of a cross between old and new Newk.  He held the Phils scoreless in the first two innings, but it took him 43 pitches to do so.  In the third, after Harper walked with two outs, Realmuto hit what my MLB app called a ground rule double.  I guess technically that’s what it was, but in reality it was one of the more sickening things you’ll see on a baseball diamond.  JT hit a 102 mph liner off the back of Newcomb’s head that caromed all the way into the Philly dugout. (look at the replay of Realmuto’s face right after he hit it.) Fortunately, Newk was talking and even managed a little smile afterwards, but of course they took no chances and promptly took him to the clubhouse. As of the time I’m writing this on Saturday night, I just saw him interviewed and he seems OK, but the next day or two will tell.

Anyway, Touki came in and allowed both runners to score, plus one of his own.  To be fair, though, the inning should have been over before that, but Donaldson made an error to extend the inning.

Aaron “The Big Easy” Nola was on the mound for Philly. He’s not the same guy who was so excellent last year.  Riley hit a homer in the second, and Braves scored another run in the third on a double by Acuna followed by two groundouts.  Chip and Frenchy were thrilled with that sequence.  I like ABC ball as well as the next guy, but another hit or two and a big inning would have been better (especially since Donaldson followed that sequence with a double of his own).

Touki allowed another run in the 4th on a home by Hernandez.  But in the bottom of the fifth, Donaldson gave the Braves the lead on a 3 run homer.  Donaldson’s long bomb was on Nola’s 95th and final pitch of the night. Gabe “Mr. Kotter” Kapler then brought in someone named JD Hammer, who looks even goofier than his name–if that really is his name.  I think it would be a better as a nickname for Donaldson, especially since his homer went into the Henry Aaron terrace.

That was all the scoring until the ninth.  Good outings from Webb, Minter, and Swarzak.  If you squint, you can see those three as part of a pretty good bullpen.  But it takes more than three reliable arms in the pen, and most importantly you need someone to pitch the ninth. Luke did not get the job done.  He gave up a couple of hits, and it was made worse by his own throwing error on a bunt.  (When they want to give you an out, take it!) I’ve been a defender of Jackson, and I do believe some of his struggles have been bad luck—but enough is enough. This was his 6th (!) blown save. AA has got to get us a closer, sooner rather than later.

In other Braves-related news:

Dusty Baker turns 70 today.  He was one of my favorite Braves, in part because he was one of the first Atlanta Braves—drafted in 1967 after the team moved to Atlanta.

Johnnie B. Baker was born June 15, 1949, in Riverside, CA and went to high school in Sacramento.  Baker made his ML debut with the Braves in September 1968 as a 19 year old. But he didn’t stick until 1972, which was his rookie season.  And he was terrific that year–slash of .321/.383/.504, OPS+ of 142. Dusty had a long and very good career, playing another 15 years, but he never quite fulfilled the promise of that rookie season. His bWAR as a rookie was 5.1, and although he had a few 4 WAR seasons, he never matched that 1972 performance.  The Braves traded Baker to the Dodgers after the 1975 season for Lee Lacy, Tom Paciorek, Jerry Royster and Jimmy Wynn.  Baker had several good seasons with the Dodgers and appeared in three World Series; you are probably aware that none of those four guys played in a World Series with the Braves.

A few idiosyncratic observations about Dusty:

— There are many moving stories about what a positive role model Henry Aaron was for young Dusty.   You should look them up.  They reinforce my view that Aaron is not only the greatest Atlanta Brave as a player but also as a person.  Baker was on deck when Aaron hit number 715.  In the videos of the event you don’t see Baker greeting the Hammer as he reached home, because Dusty says that was Hank’s moment and he did not want to get in the way.

–Baker was part of the 1973 team that was the first in history to have three players with 40 home runs each (and still the only non-Colorado team to do so).  He was not one of them (they were Aaron, Darrell Evans, and Davey Johnson), but that was a terrific offensive team; they led the league in runs scored.  Baker and Ralph Garr were very good (although Garr was much better the next year when he batted .353 and led the league), and the first base tandem of Mike Lum, Dick Dietz, and Frank Tepedino was quite productive.  Even so, that team finished 76-85, because as usual for the Braves of that era, the pitching wasn’t good; they also led the league in runs surrendered.  In fact, the only Braves team of the 70’s with a winning record was the next year’s team, which went 88-74.  Other than Garr, none of the hitting stars of 1973 were nearly as good in 1974.  The difference was that the pitching, for once, was terrific.  Buzz Capra led the league in ERA in 1974 and Niekro was third.  My experience from that time has profoundly shaped my preferences about the game.  Ever since, I have been convinced that it’s much better to have strong pitching than strong hitting.  Of course the success of the 90’s reinforced that bias.  I tell you that because although I love this 2019 team, and I’m convinced the offense is fantastic, I’m going to remain nervous until we see more stability out of the pitchers, both starters and relievers.

–In 1977, Baker was part of the Dodgers team that was the first to have four players hit 30 home runs each.  He and Reggie Smith as the corner outfielders, and Garvey and Cey, the corner infielders, each had over 30.  Steve Garvey was overrated, but Reggie Smith was underrated– a really great hitter.  You may have seen his name in connection with the Braves recently, as Smith has been a mentor to Max Fried for many years.

–I’m not here to defend Baker as a manager.  His approach and decision-making were often questionable, and he’s said some unfortunate things.  But his record is one of the best of his generation.  His very first year as manager his Giants won 103 games.  Fortunately for us, the Braves won 104 in what is still my favorite pennant race ever. The Giants won two more division titles and advanced to the World Series as a wild card in 2002.  His Cubs won the division in his first year there, although they lost in the NLCS to Pure Evil (can’t blame him for Steve Bartman).  He won two division titles with the Reds (much better than those before and after him), and his Natspos may have underperformed, but not nearly as badly as the team did under Matt Williams and Dave Martinez.

Happy Birthday, Dusty.

Well, tough loss for the Braves, but they are still a game and a half up, and they play again Sunday afternoon.  Folty on the hill for the Braves, but Mr. Kotter seems to have run out of pitchers.  As of now the Phillies starter is “TBD”; I think he may start Horshak.

Author: tfloyd

Tfloyd was born on the site of Atlanta Fulton County Stadium. Before the stadium was built, that is; it was then the site of Piedmont Hospital. It took the Braves another 11 years to arrive on what is now Hank Aaron Drive, but I‘ve always liked to arrive at the ballpark early.

90 thoughts on “Can’t Win ’em All: Phils 6, Braves 5”

  1. Great stuff, tfloyd. If there were something I disagreed with in it, I’d start a friendly argument. But there ain’t. The 2001 Braves I spoke about this week are the other side of the coin… An average hitting team with great pitching can win a division, and while a great hitting team with average pitching can do so as well, the odds are much better when the arms are better. But in any one season, lightning can still strike. Let it be this year while we wait for the arms to mature.

  2. Great recap. Luke Jackson finding his slider and using it regularly has been a game changer for him. The game winning hit was a seeing eye single that slithered it’s way to LF. Luke then proceeds to get the next 3.

    It’s not really Luke’s fault that he’s the closer, as he was literally the only reliever pitching well for a fairly large stretch. However, like you said, it is time to see what’s on the market.

    I’d like to throw a bone at recently DFA’d Cody Allen. Now I wouldn’t want the Braves to claim him, but if he were to pass through waivers, and be declared a FA, giving him an MiLB deal to get right could be a good approach.

    From there, we are likely another 3 weeks before anyone (aside from M’s GM) will want to start wheeling and dealing, and that might not be a bad thing if AA is willing to start testing out some arms. I wish Ynoa would get a look but it’s more than likely that he’ll get sent back down without pitching unless the Braves are getting blown out.

  3. Dusty will forever have a place in baseball lore as being part of the first ever high five with Glenn Burke.

  4. Overuse, obviously, of a good but not great asset. I have been arguing for a long time now of the need to acquire, for example, a LH closer to at least share the job with Luke so he could be fresher when he pitches. Lefty/righty tandems for the 8th and 9th could end up working very well. If Swarzak is really back to where he was in 2017, he will be valuable too.

    I really don’t like hating on Luke when he has done such a great job putting his fingers in the dyke. I’d love to see a closer tandem of W. Smith/Luke with the 8th covered by Swarzak/Minter 2.0. After that, the rest can be filled by our depth – Webb, Tomlin, Winkler, Dayton, Rowen, Folty/Newk (whichever is not in the rotation), Touki, Parsons, Sobotka, Weigel, Wright, etc….

    Both Touki and Luke were damaged by fielding issues (and, yes, I know Luke created his own). Overall, because of the HBLD the bullpen pitched 6.2 innings of 4R (1 ER) ball with only one walk, 7 Ks and 5 hits. That is darned good pitching and it took 5 pitchers to do it. Even if Newk goes only 4 scoreless, we would have won that game easily.

  5. @4-right! Apparently he really did invent that (by accident). Burke has his hand in the air after a homer (or something good), and Dusty slapped it. I’m not sure how it took off to become so universal.
    Dusty once said he preferred a fist bump because it’s more sanitary.

  6. One other Braves connection I did not mention about Reggie Smith. Don Sutton and Steve Garvey got into a wrestling match in the clubhouse after Sutton told a reporter that Smith was a more valuable player than Garvey.

    Sutton was undoubtedly correct, but it’s probably best not to discuss that kind of thing publicly. On the other hand, Garvey was both highly overrated and a real jerk.

  7. A closer who wanted to end it
    let his pace and his slider defend it
    but fielding a bunt
    he continued to hunt
    had nothing at all to commend it.

    Jackson…something is still there, there were too many outstanding saves/holds to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Overuse, tiredness the most likely cause. Swarzak looked a worthy candidate himself last night. I was kinda hoping Snit might let him stay but then we had to pinch hit which removed that option.

  8. Markakis…please sit him down. There were a bunch of runners he left on early last night, some in scoring position. It’s not fair on him and it’s stupid strategy.

  9. That was pretty cool. What krussell is talking about is last night when the Dodgers had a 2 run lead on the Cubs with Heyward at 2nd and 2 outs. Suspecting Heyward of stealing and relaying signs, Jansen intentionally balked so that Heyward would be sent to 3rd where he couldn’t relay signs. Smart.

  10. Being a (relative) young’un, I love these recaps re: the Braves before my time. Thanks.

    And @4 & @6 — I never knew the Braves had a claim to the high-five! Growing up in Louisville, Ky., I had always heard the lore that the ’78-’79 Univ. of Louisville basketball team (the first iteration of the Doctors of Dunk) “invented” it. But Louisville also claims to have invented the cheeseburger… there’s a good chance we just like claiming things.

  11. @11 Maybe we might get something out of one of the bench guys, but I’m not going to argue with an offense scoring 5 or more runs.

  12. come backer
    power packer
    the human neck as shock absorber
    scared? a hopeful restoration of order.

  13. @14–thanks. I’m sure the history stuff isn’t for everyone. For some of us, though, the past is never dead. It’s not even past.

  14. The Phillies have a weak bench to begin with, but without Bruce and Realmuto today, they are really short handed. Need to take this one.

  15. El Pintor isn’t fooling anyone.

    It would have been a good opportunity to give Neck a day off.

  16. That first Acuna at bat was cool. The threat of his plate coverage made Velasquez pitch inside and hit Acuna. Then the threat of his stolen base ability caused him to throw an errant pickoff throw. Got him all the way to second and he didn’t actually do anything.

  17. I hate how Folty literally made his hitting into a joke. Velasquez and him were laughing.

    But I do love 26 pitches through 3 scoreless.

  18. Gosh darnit, never does last very long with Folty. He got a gift DP and just can’t get the 3rd out.

    Doing his Nuke LaLousch impression.

  19. This is the Folty that drives me bonkers. Get this guy, Mike, before I break my tv.

    Pass the bottle.

    Hallelujah.

  20. Watching on GameDay. Is there a reason Folty threw all fastballs there to Kingery? Is the slider working today?

    Edit: I ask because it’s his slider that determines his game to me. His first few years he seemed to go from 0–2 to 3-2 a bunch because hitters wouldn’t bite on his slider. Never heard of it was a matter of the quality of the pitch or whether hitters had an easy time differentiating it.

  21. That was a classy at bat by Kingery, scary stuff. His reputation continues to grow and $24 million for 4 years looks like a good deal for Philly.

  22. That display is the difference between Folty and your true Ace(TM), the top 3 or 4 pitchers in baseball. Had he retired the pitcher (and his defense almost bailed him out after he couldn’t), he’d have finished the 3rd with 26 pitches. Instead, he throws 17 more pitches in the Georgia heat. That’s an entire inning just to get an out he should have easily gotten from the pitcher. So instead of 8 innings today, it’ll be 7. Instead of 7, it’ll be 6, etc. And he does this about once an outing even when he’s Good Folty, and that’s why he probably won’t cross the 200 IP threshold.

  23. It’s funny that the Phillies are supposed to be what’s standing between us and a division title and… I’m just not feeling that way right now. Of course, things can change.

  24. Please continue getting hot, Donaldson. Make me regret being so negative on your production.

    I hope we get to see Ynoa pitch today.

  25. My whipping boy is on fire. Phillies wishing a happy fathers day to their dad Josh Donaldson.

  26. A drama free inning would be sweet. Also, just maybe JD wasn’t such a bad sign (although Claude Rains).

    Somebody please put Folty out of my misery.

  27. At this point, I’d love to see 7 scoreless from Folty and then turn it over to 2 innings of Ynoa. Let’s see what we have there.

  28. Folty being Folty.
    I’ll be happy if he gets through five.
    With him, anything more than that seems foolishly greedy.

  29. I actually prefer to watch Julio pitch as opposed to Folty anymore. Folty Is such an enigma with all of the talent he has and he just does silly things

  30. Folty’s having trouble throwing strikes, and Tyler’s trying to help the enemy. Jeez Louise. Seven-zip and I’m stressing.

  31. Folty looks so wild in his mechanics. He finishes every pitch in a different spot. It’s a wonder he ever knows where the ball is going. That’s what bothers me about trusting him to be a TOR.

  32. Mighty Folty has struck out.

    But we got the run back, plus one. I just hope Snit’s got Folty on a short leash.

  33. Good job, Folty. I’ll take six today.

    I guess Folty just saved his rotation spot. I bet Newk is going to have to go back to the pen until he’s fully recovered from his HBLD. If Newk doesn’t go on the IL, I hope it’s Blevins that’s DFA’d when Keuchel is activated. That would also open up a 40-man spot for a trade or Rowen/Clouse/dePaula or someone.

  34. I’ve been following the run differentials lately to see if the Phils were handedly beating their opponents, and if the score holds today, the Phils will have lost almost two thirds of their run differential for the season in one day.

    I’m just not sure the Phillies are a better team than Atlanta right now.

  35. If we are fortunate enough to win this game, we will be 5.5 games back of LA for the best record in the NL. We would be 2.5 games ahead of Philly and Chicago in league record.

    Pretty far behind the best teams in the AL though.

  36. There is no point talking while hiding your mouth
    if all of your plans have already gone south.

  37. It’s pretty clear the Braves are better right now. I think the McCutcheon injury took a lot of wind out of their sails.

  38. @73 You know, I’ve been wondering about Donaldson. Every player has tendencies and I wanted to see if he’s generally a slow starter or something. Looked it up and he’s pretty consistent. Generally, has a slight swoon in June and gets on fire in the dog days of August. If he becomes the old Josh in August then we may have caught a tiger by the tail. He sure has apparently worked his butt off on sliders.

  39. McCutcheon was hitting .378/.457 (834) for them. When he went down, they immediately traded for Jay Bruce, who is hitting .283/.533 (816) for the year (better as a Phil.)

    When Bruce strained his hammy last night, they were reduced to playing Nick Williams. Nick Williams is hitting .220/.269 (489) for the year. That’s 100+ points worse than Ender Inciarte. That’s 100 points worse than Max Fried.

  40. Huascar Yynoa
    you ask her, you know her
    my reputation as wild
    will soon be replaced by that of a prodigal child.

    Put this guy in the rotation!!!

  41. Eat your crow, some of you. My guy Sean Rodriguez has got a pretty solid OPS playing second base, centerfield, all over the yard. Now he’s big sh*t in the pen (points if you remember the reference).

  42. 82 — Bruce was acquired before the injury. He was supposed to be Eric Hinske off the bench.

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