RISP And (No) Reward. Braves Strand 22, Lose 8-7 In 12

Without a doubt, that was the greatest 8-7 loss in Atlanta Braves history.

Sure, losing in extra innings after coming back like that is a tough pill to swallow. Leaving 22 men on base is really, really tough to take. Loading the bases in two straight extra innings and not scoring is enough to make you question your faith. But remember, the sky was falling during the fourth inning of this game. 

That’s when Ronald Acuña Jr. fouled a ball off his foot and couldn’t put any weight on it as he left the field. That’s when 

By the sixth inning the news trickled in that X-rays were negative and he is day-to-day, and suddenly the scoreboard felt irrelevant. 

The Braves won a game 29-9 two days ago, and somehow that wasn’t even the biggest win of the week. Ronald is fine, and that’s a win both for the Braves and the sport of baseball as a whole. It might be a few days before he is back in the lineup, but he will be back in the lineup eventually. And the way this season has gone for the Braves in terms of injuries to young superstars, that feels like the only part of the game that matters. 

Oh yeah, I guess there was some baseball, too. A dozen innings of baseball, in fact. 

Positives: 

  •  That Freddie Freeman MVP train is traveling at the speed of a Ferrari going downhill. Two more hits tonight and an RBI for Freddie. I once heard Bobby Cox say that Chipper Jones in 2008 was the most zoned in hitter he ever saw as Chipper chased down the batting title. I would love to know his thoughts on Freeman right now, because there are a lot of parallels to draw between those two seasons. And fortunately for Freeman, he’s having his stellar season on a first-place team. 
  • Speaking of high speed, Ozzie Albies hit a ground ball right into the shift in the second inning and still beat it out for an infield (cut of the grass?) hit. I’m going to be severely disappointed if we don’t get an Albies Roadrunner T-shirt giveaway at Truist Park this season. 
  • Marcell Ozuna’s plate prowess has never really been in doubt, but his ability to hit the ball to all fields has been a really nice surprise. He hit one home run out to right center and scraped another one off the top of the wall towards the right field foul pole. He’s like a billiards player calling which pocket the next shot is going into and then drilling it right there. If baseball H-O-R-S-E existed, he might be unstoppable. 
  • This team is never, ever out of it. We say it all the time, but it almost has to be said just to reinforce it. The Braves have trailed 5-0 in two consecutive games and were within one big hit tonight of winning both of them. It’s a shame how the extra innings went, because that ninth inning comeback should be remembered as one of the moments of the season. Those three runs without recording an out were probably more impressive than the six-run comeback against the Mets earlier this season when you consider the circumstances. 
  • And the key man of the inning? Ender Inciarte. Yep, the man who started the night on the bench. The man who swings his bat like a kid trying to swat a fly with a pencil. Yes, that Ender Inciarte drew a walk with the Braves down to their final strike of the night. He set up Freeman’s walk, Ozuna’s hit and d’Arnaud’s game-tying knock. That was his moment of his season right there. I was really starting to think he wasn’t going to have one. 
  • Not only did Jacob Webb pitch a scoreless inning, he did it against the middle of the lineup in a high leverage spot. It could have been a 1-2-3 inning if not for a borderline call against Trea Turner going against him, but he weathered the storm to put up a zero. Not bad for the what, sixth best option out of the bullpen? Seventh? 
  • Josh Tomlin at least managed to get the game through to the fifth after his hellacious first inning. It sounds meager, but those extra innings he survived in the first ended up being crucial with how deep into the bullpen Brian Snitker had to go. Every inning a starting pitcher finishes feels like victory at this point, so I won’t complain about Tomlin surviving four frames. I wish I could, though. I really wish I could. 

Negatives: 

  • But I can’t, because this starting rotation still is what it is. And what it is is the worst starting rotation for a team with a winning record in baseball history. 

Tomlin was bad again, but what were you expecting? He missed his spots a lot in the first inning, and his stuff just isn’t good enough to survive when his command is anything less than spot on. There were more meatballs than the kitchen of a spaghetti restaurant and Washington’s hitters didn’t miss many of them. He settled down a little bit after allowing the first three batters of the game to score, but by then it was already too late. The offense was in a hole again, and tonight it was just too deep to dig out of. 

  • What’s harder: Scoring 29 runs or leaving 22 men on base? Before you answer, the last time the Braves left 20 on base in a game was the game against the 19-inning marathon against the Pirates. Just think, the little girl who yelled “LET’S GO PIRATES” 934 times is a teenager now. Yes, my sole purpose for writing this piece was to make you feel old. And to express that it’s really hard to do what the Braves did tonight, and it was really frustrating to watch. Many holes were punched in many walls across the southeast after squandering that chance in the 11th. 

I don’t even know which at-bats to target. The three-pitch strikeout from d’Arnaud with the bases loaded in the sixth was awful, especially because he was the first hitter new pitcher Kyle McGowin faced. Duvall failing to get the runner in from third in the 10th was patient zero for the extra inning failures. Ozuna and d’Arnaud couldn’t get it done in the 11th, and of course you have the Markakis double play with the bases juiced in the 12th. You can even go back to Riley striking out with two on base in a pretty lifeless third inning at-bat. 

It was all terrible in this department, and it’s hard to justify any result other than a loss when you leave the population of a small village on base. 

  • The BABIP luck was a little frustrating. Dansby Swanson had 187 MPH worth of lineouts tonight between his at-bats in the first and eighth innings. Acuña and d’Arnaud both had outs with exit velocities over 107. And if Ozuna’s ball off the top of the wall way back in the first inning bounces the opposite direction, maybe the game ends in nine innings. The baseball gods giveth 29 runs as they taketh away several hard hits in a close game. 
  • As brutal as everything before it was…Grant Dayton was still one strike away from extending the game. The Braves have lost two games in walk-off fashion this year, and both came on 0-2 counts with two outs in what was at the time their longest game of the season. If they find themselves in a 13-inning battle over the final two weeks, maybe try to get the out before the count hits 0-2. 
  • The insurance run Will Smith allowed ended up extremely costly. Maybe he’s still getting over his COVID-19 positive test and trying to recover from a very erratic ramp-up to the season, but the most expensive link in the bullpen chain is also the weakest one right now. Amazingly, he might be one of the few guys Snitker wouldn’t trust in a high leverage October spot as of now. 
  • Lost in the very scary situation with Acuña, d’Arnaud was also hit by a pitch early. Kurt Suzuki may be gone, but opposing pitchers still need to #StopHittingBravesCatchers. 
  • The Braves got Turner out three times tonight and still lost the game. That’s like seeing sasquatch but forgetting to take a picture. 
  • With all due respect to Ian Anderson, if you’re backing one pitcher in tomorrow’s matchup to go deep in the game and save his team’s respective bullpen, it would be Patrick Corbin. And the Nationals will have Max Scherzer toeing the slab on Sunday. The Braves are going to have to dig very deep this weekend to get out of Washington with even a split. 

Former Brave Of The Day: 

Two hits, two RBIs and two runs scored for newly minted Oakland Athletic Tommy La Stella tonight in Texas. One of his RBIs even came off fellow former Brave Jesse Chavez. 

Quote Of The Game: 

“Things could be worse. You remember that, and you go on with your life.” 

– Kevin Bacon 

Tomorrow’s Goal: 

Don’t fall behind 5-0 after three innings. That probably won’t work as well against Patrick Corbin as it did against Austin Voth and Erick Fedde. 

20 thoughts on “RISP And (No) Reward. Braves Strand 22, Lose 8-7 In 12”

  1. I haven’t seen anyone mention Ozuna trying to score from 1st in the 9th with the hit from d’Arnaud. The camera angles didn’t really focus on that aspect and the TV guys didn’t really think it was much of a possibility for Ozuna to go for it there…..He was running on contact and it was pretty deeply hit. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened had he tried to go Home.

  2. Marcell Ozuna in September 2020:

    11 G, 54 PA, 20 H, 6 HR, 18 RBI, 7 BB, 11 K, .426/.500/.894 (1.394 OPS)

    That’s pretty incredible.

    That means Marcell has spent the last 11 games doing a pretty good imitation of 2001-2004 Barry Bonds. Just as a reminder, here are Barry’s numbers over that time period:

    573 G, 2443 PA, 573 H, 209 HR, 438 RBI, 755 BB, 239 SO, .349/.559/.809 (1.368 OPS)

    It is incredibly hard to do for two weeks what Barry did for four years.

  3. Apologies for the (nearly) triple post, but:

    The 2020 Braves are pretty similar to Anthopoulos’s Toronto teams in the early to mid 2010s. Anchored by Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista, those teams could absolutely destroy the ball, but they couldn’t really pitch.

    And AA’s attempts to patch the holes in the staff didn’t work quite as well as he hoped — like trading Syndergaard and d’Arnaud for R.A. Dickey, and trading Adeiny Hechevarria and some other minor leaguers for Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes (and their contracts, which the Marlins decided they didn’t feel like paying). Buehrle and Dickey were league-average, but that was the top of the rotation; it fell off quickly after that.

    Plus, matters weren’t helped by the high-profile failure of a number of top prospects, like the pitcher Brett Cecil and the hitter Travis Snider. And Aaron Sanchez is kind of their Mike Foltynewicz, a top prospect who fell off the map almost immediately after his All-Star season. (Cecil eventually became an effective reliever, after half a decade of scuffling in the rotation.)

    Still, the 2015 Jays finished first and won the Division Series, before losing in the ALCS; the 2016 Jays retained AA’s core though he had departed in the offseason, and they won the Wild Card, the Wild Card Game, and the ALDS, before again losing in the ALCS. AA won the hardest division in baseball and brought his team to the playoffs for the first time in 22 years. He didn’t win a World Series, but he accomplished his goals otherwise.

    The biggest disagreement I have with Chief over the years is that I think he feels that the Braves are in some way uniquely bad at a lot of these things. On the contrary, I believe that the things the Braves suck at are things that every team sucks at, to greater or lesser degree — most prospects fail, most pitchers are enigmatic injury-prone messes who periodically forget the strike zone, most teams lose in the playoffs, etc.

    The biggest surprise I’ve had with AA’s tenure with the Braves is that he’s been uncharacteristically gunshy when it comes to trades. His Toronto tenure (as I wrote when we hired him) was characterized by bold, splashy moves: he made blockbuster trades and he made small swaps, but he was always moving. With the Braves, apart from last year’s spree of relievers, he has been much less eager to trade his’n for your’n, seemingly more motivated by the desire to keep his untouchables than to patch the team’s manifest holes. I didn’t expect he’d be so cautious. Clearly, the team has kept winning, but just as clearly, the boat is leaking below the waterline.

    This has been a great year for Fried, but it’s unfortunately been a lost year for all of the pitching prospects. And that’s an organizational failure for which absolutely no one can escape the blame. I love Anthopoulos, and I’m not expecting him to publicly eat crow or really say anything honest about what his real plans are, but he’d better do something different this winter.

  4. If Snitker is consistent that he doesn’t want to use high leverage guys when he is behind, then it’s pretty clear where Will Smith stands.

    Pitching matchups notwithstanding, the Nats are still 17 – 26, so let’s not surrender the weekend so fast.

  5. @6

    DOB is suggesting Newcomb will go into the bullpen. He’s also saying that the plan is for Cole Hamels and Max Fried to start Wednesday (at Baltimore) and Friday (at Mets) in some order, most likely that order.

  6. So if all goes well…which is a gigantic if…our rotation in a couple weeks will be Fried-Hamels-Anderson-Folty-somebody (not necessarily in that order). That might actually be semi-workable if we can get there. We likely have to get through three straight “somebody” starts after today to get to that point, though.

  7. On DOB’s podcast last week or so, he had mentioned Folty’s weight and velocity being up, but he also mentioned comments from AA which indicated they weren’t expecting anything from him. If he’s back, it’s likely going to be out of necessity, not that he earned it. So we’ll see what happens.

  8. @7 and @Alan Agree that we shouldn’t be too worried. The Braves gave Corbin his worst beating of the year last Sunday. And the Braves are awfully good at hitting any lefties.

    @7 On the other hand, the Nats were something like 19-22 last year before winning the Wild Card and the World Series. Of course, that was with Rendon and healthy Strasburg.

  9. @16 – Pretty sure that this is the first time, all year, that our top nine hitters have all been in the lineup.

  10. Glad that Hamels is back. Excited.

    Well, I thought they were done with Folty. Necessity has dictated otherwise. I’ll cheer for Folty because he plays for the team I cheer for. He has reached BJ Upton territory for me, though, at this point.

  11. Erlin being gone gives them a 40 man roster spot for Folty. He is scheduled to pitch at Gwinnett tomorrow. Wright is pitching tomorrow and Touki is going to start Monday.

    I would just go ahead and have Folty start tomorrow tbh.

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