Braves Pick Up Just One Hit, Fall 4-0 to Phillies

Well, that one checked all of the boxes. 

A top-tier Phillies pitcher dominating the Braves on the opening weekend of the season? Yup.

Said top-tier pitcher being an Atlanta area native, therefore giving him superpowers as soon as the Braves show up in the other dugout? Zack Wheeler hails from Marietta, Georgia. 

Bad luck with BABIP? All three Philadelphia hits in the costly fifth inning were under a 90 MPH exit velocity, with Jean Segura’s rally-starting hit checking in at a whopping 85.1 MPH off the bat. 

An opposing pitcher delivering the key blow? Wheeler’s RBI single broke the ice in the fifth inning.

Sean Newcomb starting innings by walking batters and ending them by watching those walks come around to score? It happened in the sixth inning. 

The Braves getting off to a slow start? This is the second time in three years and third time since 2016 the Braves have started 0-2. 

Narratives can be overblown sometimes, but it’s hard to argue that the Braves lost in a lot of the ways they usually do today. It was hard not to have at least some thoughts of all the pitchers who picked up big hits against Atlanta, getting blooped to death and of course that opening series in 2019. 

Fortunately, the series in question was much worse than this one, and that (regular) season ended up pretty nicely.

That was really frustrating, but pace yourselves. We still have 160 to go.

Positives: 

  • Forget the ugly ending. I know it’s hard, but just block it out for a minute. Charlie Morton was everything you could have possibly wanted. He was totally dialed in with his fastball and sinker especially until one little blip in the fifth spiraled out of control. If not for a fluttering curveball that clipped Roman Quinn’s foot, he probably would’ve made it into the sixth inning with the game in the balance at 0-0. It was a positive start to his second tenure with the Braves. 
  • The Ronald Acuña Jr. throw in the first inning was particularly beautiful; you could see it developing as soon as he cut the ball off in the corner. The second Harper rounded first you knew there would be a throw, and as soon as Ronald uncorked it you knew he had a chance at the out. Poetry in motion, and credit to Dansby Swanson for getting a good tag down on the end of it, too.
  • Luke Jackson did not surrender a grand slam to Rhys Hoskins in the sixth. Yet another way this series is better than the 2019 opener. 
  • The Braves won’t have to face Aaron Nola or Zack Wheeler tomorrow. 

Negatives: 

  • Where to start…where to start…the entire game went up in flames when a hitter with a career OPS of .668 got clipped on the foot by a curveball. And the Phillies got their first run in what was ultimately a one-run win off the back of a hit batter setting up a sacrifice fly. So that’s two games and two crucial HBPs if you’re keeping score at home.
  • What are we still doing here with Sean Newcomb? I understand the value of having a long man in the bullpen and of course him being a lefty is a bonus, but at a certain point it’s just not there. His control was exactly as it has been since 2017 today—erratic. I believe in second chances, but I don’t believe in 102nd chances. Or in Newcomb’s case, today was his 110th career big league outing. Newk is almost 350 innings into his career and his K-BB ratio is not even at 2/1. We’re done here.
  • Unfortunately, Philadelphia appears to have fixed some of its bullpen issues. The season is long, but 4-0 didn’t feel like an insurmountable deficit against that group last season. Today it did. 
  • Two runs in 19 innings to open the season, and they both came on an 0-2 swing from Pablo Sandoval. 
  • Zack Wheeler doubled up the Braves in the hit column today. Wheeler also has as many RBIs as the Braves as a team through two games. I’m not sure what to do with those numbers other than just marinate in the sadness of the statistics. If you have any ideas, feel free to holler in the comments. 
  • Can the Braves please open the season anywhere other than Philadelphia in 2022? Put them in a blizzard in Colorado or an international game in Tokyo for all I care. Can we get a baseball diamond on the moon? Just not Citizens Bank Park again. That place has cursed energy, but only during the first week of April. 
  • If the Braves lose tomorrow, they will match the 0-3 start in 2019l. That series sweep  created the legendary Braves Twitter meltdown that launched the Tiger Woods meme. It’s dangerous out in the Twitter streets; you never know what chaos could be lurking around the corner. Stay vigilant tomorrow. 
  • Former Brave Of The Day: 
  • Julio Teheran is on the board for the Tigers.. The former Brave allowed just one run in five innings as Detroit beat Cleveland 5-2 at Comerica Park. 

  • Quote Of The Game: 
  • “That’s all we got, one goddamn hit?” 
  • — Harry Doyle, Major League
  • Tomorrow’s Goal:
  • I’m going to lay out a lot of goals here instead of one just in the hopes that the Braves will hit some of them. Any or all of the following would be nice: 
  • Get a runner past first base 
  • Take a lead 
  • Get a hit with runners in scoring position 
  • Get a home run from a starter 
  • Win the game 

37 thoughts on “Braves Pick Up Just One Hit, Fall 4-0 to Phillies”

  1. You’re using a lot of newfangled terminology I’m not familiar with, Alan. What is a “hit with runners in scoring position”? Or a “lead”?

  2. Worlds Worst ever Double Header All times Eastern

    Saturday 12 noon London Arsenal 0 Liverpool 3
    summary… no score first half, overrun second half, embarrassing futility
    switch over to …
    Philly…games overlap approx one hour…to and fro
    Braves 0 Phils 4 jaw dropping life threatening accumulation of ineptitude and rotten luck.

    is this all there is? intimations of mortality

    ]

  3. 11 for UCLA’s seed, which raises the question of what the heck they were doing all season.

  4. I didn’t think I’d have a rooting interest in the championship game, but I’m all in for the Zags. Bob Knight is my least favorite coach of all time; finally moving his last wire to wire undefeated champions off that distinction would be sweet.. And Baylor is my least favorite college sports program.

  5. I’m not sure what to think about Gonzaga after the UCLA game. I didn’t think UCLA was very good when they played Bama. Alabama shot free throws worse than they did all year. If they would have just shot 75% from the line it would have been a 10 point win. I don’t know if both teams had a bad game or if maybe Gonzaga isn’t all they are cracked up to be.

  6. Why are all of the Nats games starting at 4pm? Would think that’s because of traffic, but with limited seating capacity, I would think they would want to prioritize TV viewership. Please learn me, Alex.

  7. No idea, Rob, but the next time baseball decides to do something fan-friendly, it’ll be the first time.

    I believe it’s as good a time as any to point out that we’re clearly DOOOOOOMED.

  8. Just so you know, Bruce Zimmerman pitching great so far for the O’s today. Gausman starring in San Fran and O’Day for the Yankees. Maybe we traded the wrong lefty to the O’s (keep Bruce, trade Newk). We keep begging for a trade from AA but how many of them have turned out well? (admitting Allard for Martin was a great trade)

    At least we got a hit from the pitcher today.

  9. I’d suggest that the Braves perform the incantation to undo the hex, and I’m pretty sure there are instructions in the lyrics to Livin La Vida Loca.

  10. According to the esteemed Chip Caray, Matzek just “whiffed Bryce Harper looking.” That might belong in the top five Chipisms, honestly.

  11. Wow, good luck to lefties this year. Matzek just put 99 on the black low and away to strike out a lefty.

    C’mon offense, let’s go.

  12. @11 Oh, without a doubt. But I also don’t see where this benefits them. I wonder if the Nats uniquely like to start their weekday games at 4 PM.

  13. @17

    Given the Nats are the kings of the pointless self-own, I think you may have hit the nail on the head there.

  14. Ugh… gotta go get ’em, Braves…

    Hoops Talk: This Gonzaga crew is one of the most fun-to-watch teams I’ve ever seen.

    Their offensive approach is a thing of beauty and much of that is the result of a Bill Walton-like center who understands position, has impeccable footwork, and can pass like Wayne Gretzky. Timme doesn’t shoot FTs as well as he should, but other than that… the guy’s amazing. Very oddly, much of the offense revolves around him.

    Match that with top-flight point guard, a deadeye 3-point king & 2 other guys who can shoot (and rarely take a bad shot) and they’re a miracle to watch. I’ve never seen a team have so many possessions where they get a layup, a short shot or a wide-open 3 almost every time. It’s completely by design, of course, but the collective smarts on offense is a thing to behold.
    And check out how many times they get a turnover when they go out and double-team the opposing point guard.

    Yesterday, UCLA played the game of its life. They were 58% from the field, 47% from beyond the arc & they made every tough shot. Their defensive approach was the similar to what everyone tries with Gonzaga — deny Timme the ball — but they had enough success fronting him to temporarily disrupt the Zags some. Still, Gonzaga shot 59%.

    That game reminded me of Kentucky/Duke from 1992 (the Christian Laettner game) — just great shot after lucky shot after great shot, ending in a great/lucky shot.

    Coming into the tournament, the only 2 teams I thought could beat Gonzaga were Alabama (on its best, 3-point-crazy day) or Baylor. Now we get to see.

    Baylor is a terrific team — that Mitchell kid is an unguardable wonder, will be tough to double him — but (as noted above), I root against that school on principle. (Look up a doc called “Disgraced,” for a full rundown of just one of its scandals. It makes the school look like they were advised by G. Gordon Liddy.)

    Anyway, go Zags. Should be a good one.

  15. This team is playing like complete trash. It’s a long season but never good to start off 3 games behind the Phillies 3 games into the season. I think the Ozzie hitting second experiment needs to stop

  16. This team has no flow or attitude yet. Looked like they were going through the motions all weekend.

  17. It’s a long season, and I think our boys are better than their boys. But also, I hate the Phillies.

    Really sucks spending the first week of the season in hostile territory. But then we’ll get Philly and Miami at home for 7 straight.

  18. Never understood why mlb starts series in cold weather areas against warm weather teams. Seems like the Braves start on the road every year

  19. @29 I had that feeling too, Putter. So I looked it up.

    Counting this year, over the last 16 full-scheduled seasons the Braves have played their first game at home exactly FOUR times:

    2018 1st 6 at home
    2016 1st 5 at home
    2013 1st 6 at home
    2010 1st 3 at home

    Only four times in the last eleven seasons would have been bad enough but before that, we started on the road every year from 2005 thru 2009. This is the fourth time during that sixteen year span we’ve started in Philadelphia (twice in NY, twice in DC, twice in MIA, once apiece in MIL and LA).

  20. We’re certainly wasting some well-pitched games so far.

    And FWIW, that 3-2 called strike on Acuna was a joke. A walk there (and perhaps a stolen base) makes things more than a little interesting…

  21. I mention it nearly every time there’s a bad ball/strike call half-jokingly, but it really honestly does baffle me that MLB hasn’t made a serious move to implement an electronic strike zone at this point. In this day and age when everyone can see what’s a ball and what’s a strike in real time (there’s a handy strike zone superimposed on the freaking screen during most broadcasts now!), it’s completely self-defeating and idiotic that the powers that be continue to act as if no one notices when bad ball/strike calls help to decide games.

    If there’s a mass umpire walkout over it, I say good riddance. With an electronic strike zone and a tweak of the replay implementation to allow calls to be overturned at 75 percent certainty rather than the current, like, 99.9999987, you could frankly hire a bunch of minor-league or even college umpires to do the job without losing much.

  22. A positive, Minter.

    Much maligned by me and many others.

    Totally transformed with his control. Wonderful to watch. Had me out of my chair.

    So cheer up.

  23. Sucks to lose but it means next to nothing. Just look back two years to the opening series in Philly.

    Terrible BABIP luck on offense and defense. I’m very encouraged by the pitching so far; all 3 starters were solid and Minter, Matzek, and Fresh Prince have been dominant. Hope the other Grammy winner in the pen is not hurt. Bullpen depth will be an issue.

  24. @32 exactly. We could have had bases loaded with one out and D’Arnaud’s flyball would have tied the game.

    If Martin is out for any length of time, our RH reliever depth is not good. Shane Greene time.

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