This is a dead car battery of a baseball team right now.
When Ronald Acuña Jr. and Ozzie Albies are playing, this team is something of a Ferrari shooting down the highway drawing attention from the rest of baseball. Without the dynamic duo, the team is just sitting in the garage trying to turn the key a thousand times to make the car start.
The Braves have been outscored 36-19 in the last four games, and frankly that flatters them. They scored seven runs in the ninth inning in Philly, and six more of them after falling behind 8-0 in the Bronx on Tuesday. If you’re keeping score at home, that’s an average of nine runs allowed per game and 13 out of the 19 runs scored this week have been in what was effectively garbage time.
Speaking of garbage, let’s get into the game a little bit.
- Travis d’Arnaud is still hot. At least somebody in the lineup is.
- The Braves didn’t have to use Josh Tomlin tonight. For all the fans (myself included) who have been crying out for him to get a start, it looks like Sunday might be the day.
- Acuña and Albies will play baseball games for the Atlanta Braves at some point again. I promise.
- Kyle Wright. For the second time in four starts this season he abandoned his fastball in the third inning. Of the 40 pitches Wright threw in the seemingly infinite third inning, do you know how many fastballs he threw one more or a strike than you did from the couch. In total, he only attempted six fastballs on those 40 pitches. It would be like if Michael Phelps got in the pool and just decided to swim the rest of the race with one arm after the first lap. He boxed himself into a corner where hitters could just lay off the breaking balls because they knew a fastball wasn’t coming, and that’s how he ended up walking five of the final eight batters he faced.
- You can’t pin a loss like that on the manager by any means, but Wright never should have been allowed to throw a pitch after that hellacious third inning. He issued a four-pitch walk to start the fourth inning and that batter he shouldn’t have faced came around to score the go-ahead run.
- How many little leaguers all over the southeast watched that fourth inning screaming about fundamentals? First you had Grant Dayton not even looking Eddy Alvarez back on Magneuris Sierra’s squeeze bunt. All Dayton had to do there was fake a throw to first, and the go-ahead run would have been caught in a rundown. And then the coup de grâce came just minutes later when d’Arnaud attempted a throw down to second base on a stolen base attempt from Jonathan Villar.
That was an extremely ill-advised throw, and the second time d’Arnaud has made a play of that nature after making an almost identical mistake in the homer opener. At a certain point, he just has to let the bases go when one out at the plate will end the inning regardless.
- Luke Jackson hasn’t thrown more than 36 pitches in a game since July 3rd, 2018. He was allowed to throw 44 tonight and gave up four runs in the process. Rubber bands can only stretch so far before they eventually snap.
- Nick Markakis was beyond brutal on defense. The best right fielder associated with this game for the Braves was the one doing color commentary for Fox Sports Southeast almost 700 miles away.
- It might have been a different game if Marcell Ozuna had picked up a hit with the bases loaded in the fifth. But he only saw one pitch in the game’s crucial at-bat, and he used it to ground out to third base. An ugly at-bat to perfectly encapsulate what was an ugly night.
- Tomorrow is game 22 of 60 and it almost feels like a must win. Of course in reality it’s not, but it feels that way given the current state of affairs. The Braves will send Max Fried to the mound. They are 0-4 since he last pitched. If he can’t stop the slide, who can?
- In the big picture, there are extenuating circumstances. Acuña is down, Albies is down, Soroka is down, Hamels is down, Adams is down and Foltynewicz and Newcomb were both optioned. These aren’t so much the 2020 Braves as they are the healthy remains of the 2019 Braves hanging by a thread until the cavalry returns from the IL.
But think about the last four games in a vacuum. At any point since the dark days of the rebuild have you felt like you were watching a rebuilding team more than the last four days? Shoddy starting pitching, huge deficits, not much doing in the lineup and just a general feeling the team can’t do anything right. Even the lack of crowd noise makes it feel like a sparsely attended game from the 2015 season.
The point of all of this is to have fun, and there hasn’t been an isolated block of four days less fun than these last four in quite some time. Hopefully Fried helps put a jolt back into the season tomorrow night.
Former Brave Of The Day:
It kind of has to be Matt Joyce. He was on base three times tonight and made a pair of very nice plays in the outfield. Because of course he did.
Quote Of The Game:
“Losing streaks are funny. If you lose at the beginning you got off to a bad start. If you lose in the middle of the season, you’re in a slump. If you lose at the end, you’re choking.”
– Gene Mauch
The goal tomorrow is to get a game that is watchable for all nine innings. The Braves haven’t had one of those in over a week now. Even the last two wins were in abbreviated games!