Phillies Drop Early Hammer, Beat Braves 12-2

Y’all are probably pretty sick of my byline here, huh? Let’s review the last five times I have recapped a game here on Braves Journal. 

  • Huascar Ynoa had his only bad start of the season in a 13-4 loss at Wrigley Field. 
  • The Braves squeaked out a nervy 5-4 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks. 
  • Drew Smyly allowed six home runs in a 13-5 loss in Dunedin against the Blue Jays.
  • The Braves coughed up a 4-0 lead against those same Blue Jays in yet another extra innings loss, 6-5. 
  • In the first game back with a full capacity since 2019, Charlie Morton failed to get out of the first inning and the Braves lost 12-2 to the Phillies. 

Put it all together and you get a 1-4 record with an abhorrent 48-21 aggregate on runs against the Braves. To paraphrase Brad Pitt in Moneyball there’s great teams, good teams, average teams, bad teams, 50 feet of crap and then finally the Braves when I am the one recapping the game here.

Guess who’s back with you tomorrow night?


  • There was a full crowd in the ballpark! Even though all of them were about ready to blow their brains out approximately 15 minutes in, it was still really cool to see that at Truist Park.
  • Marcell Ozuna and Dansby Swanson had two more hits each. Slowly but surely, they might be heating up. 
  • Josh Tomlin carried the game from the first inning through to the fifth. Someone has to eat the innings and he did a nice job.
  • At least the Braves didn’t have a zoo in the clubhouse tonight? 



  • It was pretty clear from the start Charlie Morton didn’t have a grip on his fastball. The first inning hits from J.T. Realmuto and Alec Bohm were both on fastballs that leaked over the plate, and even on his walk to Zach Eflin he threw three two-strike pitches and couldn’t put away the opposing pitcher with it. Something has been clearly off with that pitch for a few starts now. 
  • In the big picture, Morton is in the same boat Drew Smyly was before his last start in Washington, and arguably still is in. He was an important free agent starting pitcher signing who was supposed to give the rotation depth it didn’t have last year, and the early returns have been frankly terrible. His ERA is now 6.55 and the Braves are 2-5 in his seven starts. Sooner or later if you take enough shots on one-year deals you’re bound to swing and miss. It’s too early to call this one a miss, but it definitely hasn’t been a hit yet.
  • Soooo, Freddie Freeman. Another 0-for-4 night tonight and his batting average is down at a cool .195. Obviously he’s Freddie Freeman and you trust him to dig out of it, but it’s going to be pretty hard for this lineup to get anything moving while he is struggling like this. What’s the solution? Burning more sage? Changing the walk-up song to Baby Shark for his kids like the 2019 Nationals did? A move down the lineup back to his usual third spot? If you have any ideas, feel free to comment. 
  • ::Scratches Carl Edwards Jr. off the list of right-handed relievers who are going to save the day for this bullpen::
  • It probably was only a matter of time before things went haywire given how flat Morton looked, but he probably could’ve gotten out of the first down 1-0 if not for the dropped third strike. Maybe it would’ve delayed the inevitable, but there’s no point in wondering now.
  • Hunter Wendelstedt. That’s it. That’s the negative. 
  • Cristian Pache has a .406 OPS. We knew his bat was going to struggle early on, but I think we would all love to see him struggling. This is beyond struggling and at the point of being a black hole in the lineup.
  • The Braves have been outscored 25-3 in the last two games with a full capacity crowd. 
  • Alright y’all, it’s time for an honest reality: The Phillies are pretty good right now. It doesn’t mean they will be all year or that you should write off the division, but this team has one thing it hasn’t really since the days of Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay–starting rotation depth. Zach Eflin is rounding into shape as a solid asset behind Aaron Nola, and the Braves have already seen what Zack Wheeler can do when he’s healthy. Their bullpen isn’t lighting the world on fire, but it’s also not lighting itself on fire like it was last season. The lineup is getting big contributions from the depth pieces, especially at shortstop with Jean Segura. 

Sound familiar? 

Obviously it’s early, but one thing is very striking about this team right now. Both in terms of roster construction and actual production, the 2021 Phillies currently look a lot like the 2021 Braves were supposed to look like.

Former Brave Of The Day: 

Justin Upton cranked a solo home run off Julio Urias in the second inning of the Freeway Series at Angel Stadium tonight. 

Quote Of The Game: 

“We made too many wrong mistakes.” 

— Yogi Berra 

Tomorrow’s Goal: 

Give me a freaking win to write about, please. This is getting ridiculous.

103 thoughts on “Phillies Drop Early Hammer, Beat Braves 12-2”

  1. 74-88 without major changes/shakeups.

    Acuna and the Seven Dwarfs. IMO.

  2. This Braves team does not come close to being as good as last years. 84 wins would represent quite an achievement.

  3. MLB is supposedly cracking down on “grippy” substances this year. I believe Morton was one of those pitchers who went to Houston and picked up some spin rate out of nowhere. Think there’s anything there?

  4. Manna for Chief. Pure Manna.

    Thank you Alan.

    Arsenal got kicked out of Europe this same week and will now fire their Manager.

    You’d think getting older would make it easier to bear/care. It does not.’

    ‘Cry havoc and let slip the Dogs of War
    that this foul deed shall smell above the earth
    like carrion flesh, groaning for burial’

    That our baseball could approach – occasionally- the magnificence of those few words.

  5. These five players will not disappoint, the rest will. Acuna, Anderson, Fried, Ynoa, and Smith.

  6. ‘If I should die
    think only this of me
    there is some corner of a Foreign Field
    that is, forever, Truist.’

    HaHa. Feeling better now, perspective restored. Thanks, i’m done.

  7. @4

    I least they agreed on a bullshit story to tell the media. That’s…something?

  8. Is it just me, or is the umpiring particularly awful this year? So many clearly blown calls, even after review, so early in the season, and so many just bad plate umpires.

  9. I appreciate the nice comments, y’all. Hopefully tonight I get something a little more worthwhile to write about. If anyone can snap this slump, it’s Ian!

  10. Wow. 1 inning was enough apparently.

  11. We were likely doing Edwards a favor and giving other teams a look at him. Excited to see De La Cruz and Arano

  12. @snowshine

    Missed you around. Check the GroupMe when you get a chance, better yet, shoot me an email with your number.

  13. Thanks Alan. You’re new here. When you’ve been around as long as TFloyd and I have we might let you have some wins.

    On attendance: It’s always fun to pee on Chip, but he made a statement in the first inning last night (which I readily admit was the only one I watched) that was particularly wrongheaded. Noting that Morton was getting shelled in front of a sellout crowd, he made the ridiculous argument that the fact that the Braves had higher potential attendances percentages “ought to work as a competitive advantage for the Braves.” And he definitely didn’t mean financially. he apparently thinks that playing before more people who are rooting for you helps you win. This is, to put it mildly, ridiculous and has absolutely no scientific support. Note that good teams have higher attendance — no one disputes that. But that’s not because teams do better when there are lots of people rooting for them — it’s that good teams get more people rooting for them.
    Probably the clearest example of that is last year — the same teams did well as the year before even though nobody was watching them at all! (Also note that the home field advantage didn’t budge last year. Plus, we already know that the home field advantage is not related to attendance.) Look: I get that part of Chip’s job is to try and get people to the ballpark, but doing that by giving them the lie that by showing up they will improve the chances that the Braves win is dumb.

  14. @Alan and everyone else. Yes, last night’s game was dreadful and Morton could not recover in the first. But the point was made in broadcast that between the passed ball and the bad ball/strike calls on the very next batter that Morton totally lost it. The two batters after that where he grooved pitches were the result of what I’m sure he felt he needed to do to get any strike called. He may well have been no worse than usual except for Wendelstedt.

    @17 It’s apparent we’re at the spaghetti throwing stage of the bullpen. Throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks. What we’re seeing is a very slick wall. This is what happens when you’re not really trying to solve the problem.

  15. It seems to me that all the teams in the league have been susceptible more to matchups than usual. Our streaks have not been heterogenous. We play horrible against the Phils, great against the gNats, horrible against the Marlins, great against the Cubs, etc, etc… And it seems to be pretty consistent against the same teams. After we completely shut down the gNats, they went out and murdered the Yankees (and before us, they murdered the Marlins who we can’t beat for nuthin’).

    It seems to me like a league-wide disorder (even the Dodgers have a long losing skid). I just wonder if there’s something about team chemistry that was lost league-wide last year and has yet to be recovered.

    As good as the Phils look they are still near .500 and for all their winning ways against us, they are losing against others. I can’t explain it, but if some team could understand it then that is the team the will beat it and break away from the pack.

  16. You’re doing a great job, Alan. Keep up the good work and the team will soon feel inspired to match your efforts.
    I’d like to take credit for the team’s Wednesday success so far, but the identity of the recapper doesn’t have much more impact than the size of the home crowd. But what the hell, I might as well take credit. Assertions without evidence have become the coin of the realm.

  17. The ball/strike calls are so one-sided. There has to be something going on.

  18. I don’t want to be accused of filling the blog with hot gives, but I think we would be much more successful at winning games if we stopped giving up so many first inning runs.

  19. Is it my imagination or has the Phillies pitching staff improved greatly since Rick Kranitz left?

  20. Good thing they didnt extend Swanson when his value was high. What a garbage AB.

    I guess its unfair to focus on him when more than half the lineup stinks.

  21. I’ve defended Dansby for three years now, but I’m starting to come around to coop’s point of view.

  22. @30 It’s like I said a few days ago, Kranitz is one of those pitching coaches who has no positive impact whatsoever. If you give him a good pitcher, that pitcher will do well. If you give him crap, the product will be crap. He could be replaced with an inanimate carbon rod and no one would notice.

  23. The game being played today by too many pathetic players is an embarrassment.
    I would appreciate if anyone can justify a league with two totally different rules.
    I played for forty-one years at a high performance level and this game is insulting.

  24. One thing you have to acknowledge tonight is that Anderson has gotten incrementally better every inning and has ended up turning in a very decent performance.

  25. @37–yes. Anderson’s command was off in the first couple of innings. It’s very impressive that he righted the ship and gave them 4 more scoreless. This kid has a bright future. Great stuff and a great head.

  26. Indeed. He is very talented, and actually knows how to pitch. How refreshing that is.

  27. I know he homered earlier, but Freddie looks so done. But I agree, it’s time to start protecting RAJ.

  28. @35, @44 I was looking for a joke about an inanimate carbon rod. I gave it a good solid couple minutes and came up with nothing. I know it’s out there, but I just couldn’t execute.

  29. I remember years ago Mac writing something to the effect of “Fredi has all of Bobby’s managerial weaknesses but without the same level of respect from the players.”

    I basically feel the same way about Snitker. If Chipper had been hit at the same rate Ronald is now you had better believe Bobby would have made a scene tonight. Stand up for your star players or get a new profession. I’m not encouraging beanball, but I’m really tired of seeing Ronald getting hit with basically no reaction from our manager.

  30. Pache needs to go to AA for a year.. glad we spent all our money on 2 washed up starters .. Braves always go cheap .. we will have alot to spend next year but we probably over pay for another washed up veteran ..

  31. If I was Acuna I’d be pissed .. nobody on our chicken ass team wants to retaliate on Harper or Realmuto .. we are a bunch of panzies

  32. For what it’s worth, an anagram of Cristian Pache is “A Haters’ Picnic.” Another is “Satanic Cipher.”

  33. We still don’t – or at least shouldn’t – have a hit in extra innings this year.

    UPDATE: They did give him a hit…which is a total farce.

  34. Is Ozzie’s plate discipline getting worse?

    Edit: He’s actually got a career high walk rate, but him going way out of the zone to roll over a 3-1 pitch was frustrating.

  35. When the Braves have bases loaded and nobody out, it seems like it often ends without a run.

    When the Phillies do … gulp.

  36. I’m not sure whether Albies is an imbecile. I’m certain that Webb is.

  37. oh wow, imbeciles abound, apparently.

    shameful display all around. I think this is the second game tying HR by Panda that will end up being a lost game anyway.

    0-6 now in extras, I think?

  38. I hate this team. Absolute f-ing shit show. Great job by the top notch GM to go with a three man bench again and a crap load of crappy right handed relievers.

  39. Release Webb, Jones, AA, Santana, Biddle, Mathis. Just go with the kids and at least see what you have. This team is going nowhere as presently constructed

  40. It’s one thing to get by with Band-Aids. But these are the generic bandages that fall off your finger if you get even a drop of water on them while washing the dishes.

  41. I don’t want to hear any more about Alex Jackson being useless. His defense far exceeds Contreras so far.

    I take the blame for tonight’s loss. I left after the 6th and returned for the top of the 12th. I apologize for jinxing the team by coming back.

  42. @69

    Yes, and the 4-year-old t-ball level of hitting that comes with that package is clearly worth the improved defense.

  43. I don’t think Riley has put it all together yet (missing power), but man, he sure can take a walk.

    and Contreras says, F you Ajax

  44. Contreras and Pache. Die a quick death, this rally will.

    (Jinx worked!)

  45. OK, I take it back for now. Maybe I wasn’t a “total” jinx. And Contreras just redeemed himself.

  46. @71 Give him credit for being able to spoil enough pitches to get that walk.

    OK, he can’t hit but Pache is one helluva great bunter.

  47. @76 most definitely, if they manage to not choke and win this, that walk was HUGE.

  48. Had it all the way…. I don’t what you people worry about sometimes.

    Oh, and for all of you who think the WIN is an important statistic, I give you tonight’s winning (and worst) pitcher: Jacob Webb.

  49. ADRIANZA!!!! WOOHOO!!!!

    How about that bench!!! Adrianza and Panda!!!

    That takes me back to the Dansby walk-off in 2018. Maybe that’ll do it and we got this thing turned around.

  50. Well, I’m proud to say I never believed for a second that we could win this one!

  51. Hmmmmm. Well. I guess I’ll have some stuff to write about tonight. Stay tuned y’all.

  52. Wow, that was fun to read the thread after the win. The optimism of some of you guys is inspiring.

  53. A wonderfully ugly win… both teams dropped (& threw) the ball all over the field, but we got the last bat… thankfully

  54. Most impressed by the number of old men who stayed up to watch, good on you all. Some real sort of salvation for Contreras, boy did he need it, see his face as he crossed the plate? JF, thought Webb pitched well, threw badly to the plate though!

    We are all blessed to have watched that to its conclusion. Ticket sales, big boost. Best news of the night – Acuna, nothing broken.

    What a game for its ups and downs.

  55. One of the broadcasters and one of the beat writers both said that Contreras’s slide into third on Pache’s bunt was really good. Did I miss something, or was it actually pretty bad? I thought he flopped down too early, stopped, and, rather than pulling his left hand back to avoid the tag, actually had to use his left hand to crawl in late, though he did do a nice job reaching around with his right arm to touch the base. He looked a little shaken up after the funny landing and tag by the 3B; hope he’s ok. Maybe it’s time to see Mathis again tomorrow.

    P.S. Love the win, but it was an ugly one.

  56. I just wanted to clarify, are we still winning only 69 games or whatever, Chief?

  57. I checked in on Gamecast in the bottom of the 9th, 3-1 Phillies. I checked out after the first two batters made outs, not really wanting to witness the inevitable loss. What a surprise to see the final result this morning, makes the day a little brighter.

  58. Well, shoot, we didn’t deserve to win that game but 3 different comebacks tells you a lot about this team. Lots of holes in the roster, but also a lot of fight.

    Riley had 4 walks, and that wasn’t even the 3rd or 4th weirdest thing that happened in this game.

  59. Is it just me or does Hector Neris blow a lot of saves against the Braves? Philly fans gotta hate him.

  60. Wasn’t it two years ago BMac had a big walk off hit off Neris to top a big comeback?

  61. Tonight we get to see if Alex Jackson has had anything to do with helping Ynoa’s fabulous performance this year. First time without his personal catcher.

  62. Quite the win probability chart:

    Includes two plays with WPAs of almost 50% (Panda and Contreras) and one of 26% (the last one). That’s a game-and-a-quarter worth of wins on 3 plays. (Of course, since they started with a half a game worth, they had to lose all that on other plays: the Maton double off Minter was -.31 and the Webb error was -.20.

    Note by the way in the chart you can really see the effect of the man-on-second-rule. Getting through the top of an extra inning without giving up a run creates a massive change in win probability (in the one inning the Braves managed that feat)

  63. Something else interesting in the WPAs. Chip and Frenchy were going on and on about strategy in extra innings. Note that when Ozzie moved Ozuna to 3rd with a groundout in the bottom of the 10th, that so-called “productive out” raised the probability of a Braves win by all of 1%. Since that’s the best result you can get from a bunt, it’s fairly clear that unless you have a really weak hitting guy up there, the bunt can’t make any sense… and certainly not in the top of the inning.

    The two ensuing intentional walks had almost no impact either, another 1%. Now WPA doesn’t take into account matchups at all, so Girardi’s strategy was almost surely correct as well, particularly taking into account who they faced and Kintzler’s low walk rate.

  64. That game was very instructive about the lack of importance of optimal game management IMO. Girardi managed the hell out of extra innings, and pretty much everything he did was right from what I can recall. And all he got at the end of the day was a pie in the face and (I’m sure) a bunch of Phillies fans who think he’s solely responsible for the loss.

  65. The thing is… Pablo Sandoval was never much of a power hitter! His career high in home runs, 25, came in his rookie year, back in 2009. Mostly he’s a doubles hitter. But this year, he’s come to the plate 36 times, and he’s managed five walks and nine hits, of which five have been singles and four have been homers.

    I’m not sure if he’s changed his swing or if it’s just that the game has evolved so far towards increased homers that he’s getting residual benefits, but… it’s kind of crazy that our pinch homer folk hero seems to have sort of transformed himself, at the age of 34, into a slugger.

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