Braves Fight Off Injuries, Cubs For 5-2 Win At Wrigley Field

This is just about survival right now.

The Braves beat the Cubs 5-2 at Wrigley Field on Friday afternoon to climb to 6-8 on the season, but the injury bug kept gnawing away at Brian Snitker’s ballclub. Today the baseball gods spun the Wheel of Injuries twice, giving Ender Inciarte a hamstring problem while he was running the bases in the fourth and hitting Ozzie Albies with a pitch on the knee in the ninth.

Inciarte and Albies join a worryingly long list of injuries that already includes Max Fried, Cristian Pache, Drew Smyly, Chris Martin and Mike Soroka. The season is only 14 games old, and the roster already looks like a M*A*S*H* unit. 

Every day is a battle just to make it another day until the roster gets healthier. Even staying near the .500 line with his many key contributors out is going to be tough, but grinding out wins in ugly baseball games like today is exactly how you do it. 

Hopefully Albies and Inciarte made it through the grind enough to help out again soon.

Positives:

  • For the second consecutive day, Ender Inciarte was the unsung hero. He started yesterday’s game-winning rally with an 0-2 base hit, and today he slapped a base hit into left field with two outs in the fourth inning later. Four batters and one pulled hamstring later, the Braves had a 4-1 lead that ended up being the difference in the game. We might still be playing without Inciarte getting that base hit.
  • Speaking of the fourth inning, Kyle Wright picked up a hit! After approximately 78 million consecutive games where the Braves allowed a hit to the opposing pitcher, finally one went their way as part of a big inning! Hopefully someone thought to grab that baseball. 
  • Every Kyle Wright start is a double-edged sword it seems. The good news for him is he gave the Braves a little bit of length in a spot where they desperately needed it, and he pitched well in tough spots. Not to have you immediately close this page in a fit of ugly flashbacks, but his last first inning was pretty ugly. Today he allowed the first two base runners of the game to reach and it could have spiraled, but he (with the help of a nice play from Albies) got out of the jam without allowing a run. It’s an adage as old as baseball itself, but he kept his team in the game. 
  • I don’t really know what else to say about Ronald Acuña Jr. at this point. Once again today he showed his growth as a player by working back from an 0-2 count to serve a 3-2 sinker into right field for a two-run single. He then decided he was bored with trotting home on home runs, so he decided to spring home from second on an infield hit from Marcell Ozuna. He is playing Major League Baseball like a video game on rookie mode, and we all get to watch it every day. 
  • The Braves got some BABIP luck? Some infield hits that kept a big inning going? In this economy? They sure did. 
  • Grant Dayton is, in fact, a member of this team and not just a warm body in the bullpen.He only faced two batters, but he retired both to get the ball rolling for the relief corps in the fifth.
  • Three hits for Marcell Ozuna today. The big bear is waking up from his winter hibernation. 
  • Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward laughing and hugging at first base forever. For-ev-er. 

Negatives: 

  • Yes, we have to talk about the other side of the Kyle Wright coin. He hit four batters, all right-handed, all in either the elbow or the mid-section. And the worst part is none of them were with fastballs, the pitch he seemed to be struggling the most to command. He pulled the string on a few sliders and wiggled out of trouble, but that had a lot to do with a lineup in the middle of a torrid slump. If he gets another start, his command is going to have to be a lot better than it was tonight. 
  • The Cubs as a team entered today hitting .163. I don’t need to tell you how abhorrent that is. And yet even down by three runs in the ninth against the worst-hitting lineup in the sport right now, Will Smith issued three walks. He looked almost scared to throw his fastball, baffling considering the current Cubs would swing and miss in a backyard tee ball game. At a certain point it’s also on Travis d’Arnaud to start calling more fastballs in that situation, but Smith also needs to locate better. His rocky start to 2021 continued in a big way at Wrigley.
  • #StopHittingBravesCatchers needs to just become #StopHittingBravesPlayers at this point. Hopefully Ozzie can shake it off in a day or two; he looked like he was writhing in pain after that Justin Steele pitch got him on the knee.
  • Freddie Freeman is still snakebitten. He was robbed with two diving stops today; Eric Sogard threw him out from the cut of the grass in the first inning, and Joc Pederson made a diving catch on a deep drive in the eighth. Is the tax for winning the MVP terrible BABIP luck the following season? 

Former Brave Of The Day: 

In Former Brave on Former Brave crime tonight at Globe Life Park, Rio Ruiz took Mike Foltynewicz deep for a solo home run in the fourth inning. Ruiz has two home runs in as many weeks to start the season for the Orioles.

Quote Of The Game:
“I will survive…”
— Gloria Gaynor

Tomorrow’s Goal:
Just stay healthy. The injuries have to stop.

53 thoughts on “Braves Fight Off Injuries, Cubs For 5-2 Win At Wrigley Field”

  1. As everyone else has said, Alan, these writeups are fantastic. The style and content are superb. One thing to add in the former Brave department; Kolby Allard (1.80 ERA) served up three perfect innings (no hits or walks) with 5Ks for the Rangers after Folty (0-3) made his usual exit.

  2. Koby Allard – damn!

    Alan, you have hit the recap nail on the head, and we are the better for it. The French have a way of saying thank you in an extravagant way – mille remerciments.

    The Jason/Freddie spontaneity on first base was my highlight too, Frenchie needing to remind me they minored together as an item, had fun.

    Jason sold his FA soul to the Cardinals to go play baseball in the least lovely city in America for a young, overpaid Black man. I bet you to some degree he forced that trade, the Cardinals presumably inclined to eventually accede due to his disappointing power .

    Anyway, good old Freddie and Jason. What happens in 2124 who knows – they say his outfield defense at Wrigley might keep him around. And he likes Chicago culturally I believe.

  3. Gloria Gaynor
    you didn’t have to explain her
    she could shout the same time as she sung
    the words inspirational, the force no mere slip of the tongue.

  4. Kyle Wright…

    Last year, awful start, great finish until…..!

    I keep being haunted by Ron Darling’s September assessment – ‘has the best off speed stuff I have seen all year’…..he said it twice in the same week! And, from the Mets booth he’s seen a lot.

    How to equate this with what we saw yesterday I know not but it’s too potentially valuable a most exotic bloom if he can get his confidence back you must persevere. No baby, no bathwater please.

  5. I’d heard Joe Simpson was revitalized by the move to radio, but if what I heard today was any indication that has worn off and then some. My small sample size observation is it’s time for an overhaul in the radio booth. If they’re sidelining Powell (who many like but who I’ve always considered robotic), maybe the transition is beginning.

  6. Wow! Not good news for Ozzie, but really cool for Kazmar.

  7. My quick guess is Ozzie is hurt but not IL worthy hurt and Kazmar Jr. was on taxi squad and can be DFA’d in a few days and go back to the taxi squad.

  8. Was Kazmar on the 40 man roster, or do you not have to be on it to be on the taxi squad?

  9. I’ve primarily listened to brave radio over the last three seasons through the MLB app, and my general assessment is that Joe is light years better on radio than he was on TV.

    For whatever reason, he seemed extra cranky yesterday. It appears it was due to poor camera work by the Chicago feed, as he constantly complained about not being able to see a lot of angles on plays and replays. Also, another relief pitcher walking three batters in an inning seemed to take its toll.

    I’m not a Joe Simpson defender by any means, but I definitely agree with the “better on the radio than TV” crowd.

  10. Interesting to notice how the Padres and Braves are treated by national media. In a vacuum you’d think they have quite similar stories – young team, exciting superstars, franchise on the rise who might unseat the Dodger empire.

    But the Padres are clearly the darlings of the baseball world. You can’t read a game recap without hearing about how exciting and fun this Padres team is. Braves get some love, but not in the same way. I think I understand why:

    1 Padres were bad for longer. 2014-2017 was painful for us that watched it, but really not that long. Padres are new and shiny.

    2 Padres / Dodgers is an easy and fun rivalry to sell.

    3 To supplement their talented homegrown stars the Padres have spent big dollars and prospect capitol to get even better – Machado, Hosmer, Clevinger, Darvish.

    4 Agree or not, the Braves org has a bit of a stink around it. Shenanigans in Latin America, move to Cobb county, rewarded for lowballing Acuna/Albies deals, Chip Caray (probably).

    Of all those I think #3 is the biggest difference. So many teams in baseball aren’t event trying to be good. Even fewer are actually trying to be the best team in baseball. So with the big all-in moves the Padres have made its easy to root for them.

    You guys agree or have a different theory?

  11. @11 Ok, I’ll chalk it up as a bad day. That said, I miss Don’s “old shoe” quality, and I think that’s something to aim for on the radio especially. At the very least, some less stentorian voices would be welcome.

  12. Good for Kazmar!

    If Don were with us, I can predict with 100% accuracy that he would respond to Ronald’s performance by quoting Dmitri Young, saying, “Them’s high school numbers.”

    I’ve been saying it for a couple years now but the scariest thing about Acuña is he keeps improving his game. You can actually see the adjustments he’s making just about in real time. And the fact that he’s actually improved his foot speed on the bases is stunning.

    Question for the old-timers: y’all ever seen anything like this?

  13. Good for Kazmar. Hope he at least gets in some box scores (but not too many) and does things to put him on some all-time lists of longest time between things. His minor league career is a little odd. I can’t see why the Padres would have called him up at age 23, as he hadn’t even played in AAA and hadn’t hit that well anywhere. After his not very successful cup of coffee, he OPS’d an average of around .660 in the PCL from ages 24-26, but at Gwinnett from ages 29-34 he was somewhat better, around .700 despite being older and I assume in a worse hitting environment. His 2014 looked decent (.287/.348/.435 as a 3B/2B/SS), but it seems like even then he wasn’t a full-time starter. Must be a great clubhouse guy for the Braves to keep bringing him back.

  14. @1 I appreciate that! These are really fun to do, and that was a pretty fun game minus the injuries. I didn’t even see Allard out there, but I’m glad he’s carved out a role for himself in Texas.

  15. MikeM @ #12

    Also, the Padres’ GM, A.J. Prellar, maintains a higher profile. He’s made some flashy trades in the past that put him in the spotlight.

    Rusty @ #16

    Good call.

  16. @16 Yes, totally. Also thought of Larry Walker. I’m not old enough to remember Reggie Jackson in ’69, but I imagine people were losing their minds…

  17. Remy @18
    That’s a good point. Although his flashy trades as recently as this past offseason have more to do with it.

    Funny thing is, when I think about who was the fun, going-all-in-for-it bandwagon team in recent memory before these Padres, the team that comes to minds is… AA’s very own mid-2010’s Blue Jays.

  18. Game preview with Nick Green and Moylan. Those guys are getting all emotional about Kazmar. What a great story indeed.

  19. @14, Harper was 22, so a year younger than RAJ, when he had his monster year in 2015 – .330/.460/.649. He didn’t have great speed but was still fast enough to play some center that year.

    Bonds’ (I assume pre-PED) year in 1993 – .336/.458/.677 – was sort of similar, in that he had already been MVP twice but continued to improve. He was still fast but was 28.

    Trout isn’t really similar, in that he was about as great as a 20-year-old rookie as he has been every year since, just losing a little speed and gaining power.

    They’re very different in almost every way except power, but the whole “he can’t be stopped” aura about RAJ reminds me of a hot streak that 22-year-old Bob Horner had in June/July 1980. He hit 8 HR in 8 games and 16 in 25. The run environment was different then (no NL team hit more than 148 HR), so the streak was even more impressive than it would be now.

  20. This will be the game thread as well.

    Here’s all the Braves news of the day:

    Yes, Newk’s IL is COVID related.

    Good news for Ozzie…but not for Kazmar

    Lineup:

  21. Biddle? I knew they picked him up off waivers but I didn’t think he’d be ne of the first up. Good ole Biddle and Bits. I once had high hopes for him until he got bit by the same “walk” disease as many other Braves rejects.

    Not to mention that another lefty should be low on the priority list.

  22. My guess is that those 2 guys got called up is ultimately because if they lose them when they are DFA’ed nobody cares.

  23. @14–Cesar Cedeño in his age 21 and 22 seasons. Unfortunately he was never that good again his career. That’s quite a cautionary tale. OTOH,I agree with Alex that Ronald continues to improve before our eyes.

    As to radio, I was as critical as anyone of Joe on the TV. But I don’t mind him at all on the radio. As was said above, he had pretty good reason to be cranky yesterday. I’m a big Jim Powell fan; pretty disappointed that his Mike time has been cut.

  24. @28 agreed…I like Powell as well. Joe doesn’t bother me nearly as much on radio either

  25. Agreed on Jim and Joe. I think Jim’s best quality is his ability to put his color guy over. Don was affable but limited, and he really needed a superb PBP guy to make him shine. (He didn’t have that in Washington.) Joe is more blah, but he’s okay. I feel the same way about Ben.

  26. This game is nit going well. Looks like one we’re “destined” to lose. Cubs take advantage of every mistake the Braves make. Braves could have at least two runs without the Acuna pickoff and Heredia swinging at a ball 4 pitch way off the plate.

  27. @24 Ah yes, Bob Horner and the summer of 1980. Four of those homers came in one game, which TBS was forced to air on tape-delay due to….the Goodwill Games.

  28. Welp…

    #14
    Matching power & speed, I’d say early-career Cesar Cedeno in Houston (where nobody really hit HRs) & the first few years of Eric Davis in Cincy.

    And Bonds in Pittsburgh, of course, but (for some reason) my memory tends to erase him…

  29. #34
    That was 1986, actually…

    I remember it well because I drove from Athens to Columbus that day & listened to the whole thing on radio.

    And, yes, they lost.

  30. Question for those of you in the Atlanta area… I have to travel to Opelika tomorrow for work and I was wondering if the game will be blacked out on ESPN?

  31. I listened to the Horner game while delivering pizzas. He could not overcome Omar Moreno, who was worth approximately -4 HR/G that year.

  32. Cedeno and Davis are better examples than the first one that came to me, but I’ll throw Darryl Strawberry in as well.

  33. #38
    My guess would be no.

    IIRC, Opelika is in the Columbus, Ga., TV market, and when I lived down there, it was never subject to blackouts for Atlanta games.

  34. With these injuries, an average team is now really bad. Doesn’t matter anyway, the Dodgers are going to run away with it again.

  35. I’m not sure Ronald will have enough time to hit six more two-run homers.

  36. To paraphrase Rabbi Hillel:

    If the Braves offense cannot score, how will we get runs?

    But if we can only score and cannot pitch, how will we win?

    And if not now, are we not DOOOOOMED?

  37. Onoa the Weatherman.

    That early pitch that sailed over all three heads? Can only have slipped out of his fingers.

    He was cold and colder the longer he was kept out there, could well be something he’s never had to execute before. Leave him be, he will be back in our A group ere long.

  38. Chief, stop it, you sell yourself/ourselves short. 25 baseball games ago we were three/one up on them. Like the recent Liverpool imbroglio, sports addictive behavior should teach us only this – the King is dead, long live the King. As a bewildered child I wondered what all that could mean. It will happen, just a matter of when. Cheers.

  39. You’ll Never Walk Alone.

    The Gospel according to Klopp
    did he know the whole thing would stop?
    but he did, will rebuild
    expectations be chilled
    but renewal will buy back the Kop.

  40. Huascar Ynoa
    where I come from there’s a definite lack of the snowa
    Chicago suggests
    multiple vests
    your lady? always but always a boa.

  41. come to think of it….

    for a young pitcher just summoned to the Show to strengthen our pen there could be much reassurance gained to learn the adopted bullpen mantra…

    ‘You’ll never walk alone’. Nor will he.

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