You know how Jack In The Box toys take forever to do anything and then explode with a loud burst in an instant? It’s just waiting and waiting and waiting and then you have a heart attack from the sudden noise? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, enjoy a quick visual aid.
You just watched the baseball version of that.
There were 53 outs recorded in that game and 11 runs. Four runs through the first 40 outs, then seven across the final 13.
It looked like one of those nights where a tough pitcher just stymies a good offense; only for things to get really weird really fast down the stretch.
And when I say weird, I mean it. I would argue we veered pretty close to the weirdest Braves game in years. For a split second there was a reprisal of the Jerry Meals call eight years later and Charlie Culberson was one Adam Duvall out away from having to gear up and catch in extra innings.
Now it’s time to unpack everything.
- There are a ton of directions to go with the offense tonight, but I think the improved hitting with runners in scoring position is a good spot to zero in on. It was a lot more fun to watch that than Monday and Tuesday’s whiff conventions at the plate in these spots. Marcell Ozuna got a big hit in the eighth, Matt Adams did his part with a two-run triple and of course Adam Duvall came up huge by walking the game off with the bases loaded. The hairs pulled out/9 ratio around Braves Country was much lower tonight.
- Make it three solid nights in a row (at the plate) for Austin Riley. He sat on a first-pitch slider from Wheeler and roped it into center field for a fifth inning single, and hit a 1-2 curveball way over the left field wall in the seventh for his fourth home run of the season. One day at a time, it looks like things are starting to come together for him. At absolute minimum you can be optimistic; way more optimistic than you had any right to be two weeks ago.
- Robbie Erlin scrapped four innings together again. It wasn’t pretty, but he kept the Braves in the ballgame. Sure Bryce Harper hit a baseball to Mars, but he’s been doing that off everyone this season. The biggest pitch of the night that will fly under the radar was the 1-2 fastball he threw to JT Realmuto with two on in the third inning. The Braves were already down 2-0 at this point, and things were spiraling. But he pulled a string on the best hitting catcher in baseball for a big second out and followed that by inducing a popout from Phil Gosselin.
He only lasted four innings, but the game would have been way out of reach earlier without Erlin’s gritty pitches in the third inning.
- Erlin wasn’t the only pitcher to make some huge, somewhat forgotten pitches on Realmuto; Mark Melancon immediately put his blown save behind him to strike out the slugging catcher with the game tied in the ninth. That inning had disaster written all over it with the bases loaded and the heart of the order coming up, but Melancon did enough to at least keep the game tied.
We need some new vernacular for when Pache does this. The usual baseball terms of “laser beam” or “frozen rope” just won’t cut it for an arm this special. I took the liberty to come up with a few options for both the throws and his arm itself. Take your pick—or come up with an even better one yourself.
- Pache Pellet
- Dominican Dart
- Cristian’s Cannon
- The Shane Greene train keeps on trucking along. This entire bullpen is loaded, but Greene is probably the best of the bunch right now. His ERA is down to 0.73 after another scoreless frame tonight.
- Don’t forget about Johan Camargo’s heads up tag in Greene’s aforementioned inning. This might be a very different recap if the Phillies go into the bottom of the eighth of 5-2 rather than 4-2.
- Every game the Braves win right now is buying more time to let Acuña and Albies rest up. There is no reason to rush guys back from injury for a playoff race when the active roster is making sure there won’t even be a playoff race to rush them back for.
- As always, schadenfreude is the order of the day in sports fandom. Sit back and enjoy.
- It was a very weird double-edged sword for quite a few players tonight. Yes Austin Riley looked great at the plate…but he had a brutal error on a routine grounder in the fifth inning that ended up plating a run for the Phillies.
- Yes Mark Melancon got some big outs to keep the game 5-5…but he blew a save against the bottom of Philadelphia’s lineup. The 2-2 cutter that floated in on Hoskins and hit him set up Harper to drive in the tying run with a sacrifice fly.
- Yes Johan Camargo made a very alert defensive play in a big spot…but again he was 0-for-4 at the plate with three strikeouts. His batting average for the season dipped back below the Mendoza line tonight. See what I mean? That kind of night.
- Of course it didn’t end up mattering, but Brian Snitker did back himself into a corner tonight where his two options at catcher for extra innings were either sending an injured Alex Jackson out there or forfeiting the DH to put Charlie Culberson behind the plate.
Snitker had a really rough ninth inning, highlighted by choosing to pinch run for Travis d’Arnaud as the trail runner with the bases loaded in a tie game. It had the potential to be a disaster without Duvall’s game-winning hit.
Former Brave Of The Day:
Matt Joyce took Max Scherzer deep for a two-run home run at Nationals Park. Not a bad pitcher to hit your first home run of the season against.
Quote Of The Game:
“Boy…that escalated quickly.”
– Ron Burgundy
Bury the Phillies. Don’t let them leave Atlanta with a win and a little bit of momentum after a tough weekend. Things can change on a dime in this game. Sweep them out of town and keep the tailspin going.