Clutch – Braves 3 – Cubs 2

Champions are made from games like these.  The Braves made no mistakes, played superb defense, got clutch hits, and perfect bullpen support.  Everyone that contributed did so in clutch form.  The Braves got three hits – 2 homers and a single.  Fortunately the single came right before the 2nd homer.  And that was that for the offense.

I SO want Max Fried to pitch great. Shaky at times but he really battled (I hate that damn cliche but I don’t know how better to say it). Unfortunately, the Cubs threw a rookie, Adbert Alzolay (2nd start), who the Braves could not touch at all. After a 1st inning, 1st pitch homer by Ronald, the Braves got nothing, did nothing for six innings (including the 1st).

Fried relied on offspeed stuff and a lotta luck to make it through 6 innings.  The luckiest part was in the 2nd, after he walked the bases loaded, The Cubs ran themselves into one of the most unique DP’s I’ve ever seen.  After Adbert missed a bunt attempt, Baez got caught off 3rd.  BMac tagged him so quickly that he was able to throw back to Dansby at 3rd to get Contreras trying to advance.  Fried got out into it and out of it without so much as a foul ball. He lost the luck in the 4th when Contreras hit a 2-run double to give the Cubs a 2-1 lead.  Both pitchers had bouts of pure wildness where they just couldn’t throw any strikes.  The Braves finally chased Adbert in the 5th with walks and patience.   Unfortunately, the Braves left the bases loaded as Dansby grounded out.

Fried found something after that 2-run double and was brilliant for two more innings.  Looking at it in reverse, his 2-hit, 2-run, 6-inning performance turned out mighty good, even great.  The Braves, meanwhile, got no hits after that Acuna HR.  Finally, off of Mike Montgomery, Ozzie hit a 1st pitch bomb to RCF after BMac singled to give the Braves a 3-2 lead.  Why does anyone throw a LHP against Ozzie?  Even beyond that why does any LHP throw a strike to Ozzie on the first pitch?

Now it was bullpen time.  And it was Return of the Newk.  What a treat to see Newcomb come in and blow the Cubs away in the 7th.  Unfortunately, Newk couldn’t replicate in the 8th and gave up two singles to open the inning.  Our newest hero came in, the General, and was brilliant in his own right getting the best Cubs hitters, Bryant and Rizzo, to hit into a GIDP and strikeout to end the threat.

No one at Braves Journal was looking forward to seeing Luke in the 9th.  I have no idea what he ate for breakfast, but Luke was amazing, too.  After Mr. Clutch, who came in just for defense tonight, made a sliding catch in LF, Luke struck out the next two batters to win the game.  Even the three balls he threw to Bote before striking him out were pitches he executed perfectly.  I think Luke executed every pitch he threw perfectly.  This game was worth watching what an elite bullpen can do.  This team played clutch championship baseball tonight.

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66 thoughts on “Clutch – Braves 3 – Cubs 2”

  1. @61 from prior thread….

    I thought Charlie looked awkward or was trying to avoid Acuna on that catch but, when I saw the replay, it looked like he positioned his body perfectly so the glove would not bounce on the turf. It was a great play.

    And I admit being one of the unfaithful about Luke. So glad I was wrong.

  2. Thanks, Roger. Actually, it was Donaldson who tagged Báez out and threw to Dansby covering 3B.

  3. In General
    you might consider my pitching skills ephemeral
    RDBM to Rizzo though @ ninety five
    he froze, it felt good to have come alive.

  4. I’m still not sure why Baez froze on what was obviously a safety squeeze…. It was like a play from the ’80s:

    We can squeeze if we want to,
    we can leave third base behind
    But the pitcher must bunt and if he don’t bunt
    Well it’s not for lack of tryin’
    I say, when he misses we can go back, to third where it is safe
    But if I just stand like a headlighted deer
    They will run me down and the inning dies
    When they tag the one who’s behind,
    And we can squeeze…

  5. Brian McCann is moving from the surprising to the extraordinary.

    In his crucial at bat last night, which was to produce the single that essentially became the winning margin ahead of Ozzie’s blast, he had battled a tough pitcher, fouling off a half dozen mean pitches or so, before squaring one up to the off field.

    As someone said last night it’s now no longer a case of pulling everything a la NY and Houston, he has become a real hitter again to all fields – he must be thrilled to have made this happen back with the Braves.

  6. As for McCann, if he was forcing attempts to pull (in the air) in Yankee Stadium, for a slow lefthanded hitter, that is what you ought to do. Almost nobody has the off field power it takes to get it out in left.

    As for Houston, the Crawford boxes are too tempting for anybody not to try to hit to left.

  7. Baseball is a crazy game. The odds of winning while only getting 3 hits have to be exceedingly low.

  8. Well, it’s the year of the home run, and two of those three hits were homers. For me, it’s the walks. Both SPs walked the bases loaded, and no one had anything to show for it. I think that’s why you’re seeing Markakis in the middle of the order. He’s so much more likely to get a runner home from third with less than 2 outs than other players.

    The ChopCast did a podcast yesterday comparing our 2019 offense to the 2003 offense. The most common lineup that year also had a more contact-oriented guy hitting ahead of guys with higher OPSes. Robert Fick hit 6th in the most common lineup ahead of Steroided-Up Javy Lopez. I would imagine both Bobby and Snit feel like guys like Fick and Kakes are a nice change of pace when you have such a powerful middle of the order.

    Also, I had forgotten just how incredible Marcus Giles was for a time.

  9. So Fried is on pace to be about a 3.5 bWAR pitcher. Paces based on bWAR:

    Fried – 3.5
    Soroka – 5.5
    Teheran – 2.9
    Newk – 2
    Swarzak – 2
    Jackson, Webb, and Tomlin – 1.3

    Obviously no other starting pitchers have played a complete season. I suppose Keuchel could get somewhere between 1.5-2 bWAR if he can match his performance even from last year. Not that it really matters, but Folty might not even be able to pitch well enough to get to 0.0 bWAR.

    The Braves have used 39 different players already. Mets have used 44. Nats have used 41. Phils 44. Key difference is we actually have the organization depth to overcome when bad things happen. They’re just throwing spaghetti up against the wall.

    The Braves have had 15 players accumulated negative bWAR. Phils 14, Nats 14, Mets 19. 12 of the Braves’ 15 are on the pitching side, whereas the others are more split. All teams went into the season with clunkers on their roster, but the Braves have been able to recover much easier.

  10. Position player fWAR paces:

    Acuna: 6
    Freddie: 5.6
    McFlowers – 4.8 (!!)
    Donaldson – 3.4
    Ozzie – 3.4
    Dansby – 3.2
    Joyce – 1.2
    Culberson – 1
    Nick – 0.8

    Austin Riley per 162 games – 3 fWAR. Fangraphs doesn’t like his defense.

    So yes, Culberson and Joyce have been more productive than Markakis in about a quarter of the PAs. A healthy Ender, historically, would be more productive in RF than Kakes.

  11. Looking forward to the game tonight. This is the biggest reason we have Keichel. He has the potential to shut down a team like the Cubs. We don’t have many other pitchers on our roster with that potential, although despite looking pretty shaky at times, Fried came pretty close last night. Of course it would be nice if we could go back to scoring 7 or 8 runs a game.

  12. Jonathan should be able to use his database to figure out how often a team with 3 hits wins, if he has the time/interest. I believe that teams have won while being no-hit, and I’m pretty sure that the Braves had only one hit, a Justice solo HR, when they won the 1992 Otis Nixon Catch game vs. the Pirates.

  13. I know that gambling is a bit of a taboo subject, but as of last night’s win, I’m 4 for 4 on games where a few of ole Copey’s shekels have been wagered.

    I was 5 of 6 in college football last year. I was convinced Florida wouldn’t have laid an egg against Mizzou after losing to Georgia, but… I. Was. Wrong.

  14. Also, I took the over on the Braves’ win total of 86, the Gators’ win total of 8, and FSU win total of 7. All overs. The last one hurt a little. FSU over on 7 is stealing money. FSU will just reassign Willie to recruiting coordinator, let the clock tick on his buyout, and let Hamilton and Briles run the team if they even start 2-3.

  15. @20 Nice. I was also very happy back then about the signing but mostly because I love that guy and because of that press conference when he told everyone about the JD signing before it was announced.

  16. McFlowers – 4.8 (!!)

    We’ll never compete for anything until management is willing to go get real talent like JT Realmuto.

  17. Markakis is in the lineup once again tonight. I still don’t understand the insistence on playing him every day.

    But I can’t complain about Claude on the bench. He’s starting in left for Riley.

  18. Did y’all see the eerily similar stats for Trout and RAJ through their first 190 games? That doesn’t mean that Ronald will replicate Trout over the next 6-7 years, but what we’re seeing so far is very special and rare.

  19. And it’s even more special to have two teammates as talented and accomplished who are as young as Acuña and Albies. Of Ozzie’s ten most similar hitters at his age, five are hall of famers.

  20. @23 I think you misconstrue the argument in favor of Realmuto – not that it’s worth rehashing. Ignoring the pitching for a minute, how do you upgrade this lineup? At that time, you could look up and down our lineup (even pre-Riley) and see that there were very few positions where a better asset was available either for trade or on the FA market. Catcher was the primary position (of course, RF was the other) with Realmuto and Grandal both being available and being the top two players at the position. Even now, Realmuto’s numbers are better than either McCann or Flowers, especially on defense where Realmuto actually throws out runners trying to steal.

    I love BMac and he was an absolute steal at $2M. And he is giving back more than that in value. But a tandem of Realmuto and BMac would easily out-WAR Flowers/McCann.

    But truth is, now as opposed to then, that there is nothing we need to do to the lineup. It’s great now, and Ender is likely to come back and Duvall is waiting in the wings. The production and depth is really good in the system.

  21. I’m hoping that in my lifetime the Braves will get off their financially flexible butts and start trying to win like the Phillies or Nationals. We’ll see how much Atlanta enjoys their financial flexibility come playoff time!

  22. Acuna showing he can beat you with more than the hit/power tool. We are so lucky to have both him and Albies for the next few years. Swanson, Riley, Camargo. Even FF isn’t old. Waters and Pache on the way. All the young pitching. Rob C said it a few weeks ago and I agree. The Braves are at worst tied for second with the Cubs for the most young talent after the Dodgers. And I think our young pitching depth gives us the edge.

  23. BMac! @20/21. I too was in favor of the signing and not primarily for nostalgia. I thought if he was healthy that he and Flowers together could put up a 750 OPS in some sort of platoon and that’s well above average for the catcher position. For as little as we were paying them and the lack of commitment beyond this year I was very pleased. The intangibles and mentorship were icing on the cake. Especially instead of paying the asking price for Realmuto. But even I’m surprised at the offensive production we’re getting from McCann

  24. I think last night’s game took the wind out of the Cubs’ sails. Contreras has lost his mojo. The whole team seems deflated.

  25. I’m guessing a 1.5 hr rain delay. Weather.com seems to think the storm will pass by about 10pm CDT.

  26. Given the possibility of seeing some questionable arms down the stretch tonight, I am not filled with confidence about a successful outcome.

  27. Cliff, yes, Fangraphs gave Flowers 1.7 so far this year, undoubtedly because of his framing. McCann is at 0.7 going into today, IIRC.

  28. The rain delay didn’t help. Neither did hibernation mode. Get this out and score some runs.

    Well done, Jacob.

  29. My heart is not strong enough to ensure many more innings like that, but whew! Nice recovery, AJ.

  30. Minter 2.0 has lowered his ERA by 2 runs since coming back. He is still too wild, but he has apparently learned how to adjust on a pitch-by-pitch basis.

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