Really good baseball team beats not very good baseball team 9-5

It went the way we all knew it was going to go, and that in it of itself is just frustrating.

The Los Angeles Dodgers kept chugging along doing exactly what they have all season, and unfortunately the Atlanta Braves did the same as the Dodgers ran out of Truist Park with a 9-5 victory in the opening game of the series. 

The Dodgers draw a lot of walks, Braves pitchers walk a lot of batters, and sure enough the Dodgers drew eight walks.

The Braves’ bullpen has been among the worst in baseball, the Dodgers feast on relief pitching, and what was a 2-1 game when Ian Anderson departed became an 8-1 game before the end of the inning.

The Dodgers have a deep lineup that has produced from top to bottom, while the Braves have struggled to generate runs outside of the top half. The Dodgers got five RBIs from the bottom four hitters in their lineup, while the Braves only got two outside the top three. 

And most damning of all, the Dodgers still look like a team capable of going deep into October. The Braves do not. 

And really, after how close the Braves came to slaying the dragon last year, that final point is really the only one that matters. All of the others are just feeding into it. 

Positives: 

  • At least Freddie Freeman got on the board with a home run. After all of the hard BABIP luck he’s had the last couple weeks, it was good to see him get one. It would be nice if that opened the floodgates for him a little bit.
  • Right-handed Ozzie Albies is still a weapon of mass destruction. He’ll get another chance to go to work from the right side tomorrow against Clayton Kershaw.
  • The Braves at least mounted enough of a “comeback” to force Dave Roberts into using Kenley Jansen. Maybe that will help tomorrow, but that would also require getting Kershaw out of the game early enough for it to matter. 
  • Edgar Santana ate a couple innings and didn’t let things get worse while the Braves were down 8-1. Really, that’s all you’re looking for at that point.
  • The last time the Braves got annihilated in one inning by the Dodgers in an ugly loss, they came back and beat Kershaw the next day. That’s seriously grasping at straws, but it’s about all I have right now. 

Negatives: 

  • I could start in a million places, but I might as well feed the beast a lot of Braves fans have been banging the drum about this season. Trailing 2-1 in the fifth inning, Brian Snitker called on Sean Newcomb and Grant Dayton to put out the fire and keep the game in striking distance. Of course Newcomb proceeded to walk the ballpark and Dayton showed why he is regarded as one of Snitker’s lower-leverage options, and the Braves were down seven before the bats got back up there. 

I don’t know if the Braves actually would’ve been able to make a comeback down 2-1 or even 4-1, but I know for sure they had no chance at 8-1. Snitker has decided so many times this season that his team isn’t capable of making a comeback, and unfortunately that usually has been a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

  • Having said that, the entire tenor of the  bottom of the ninth would’ve changed if Tyler Matzek hadn’t allowed that insurance run. Imagine if Kenley Jansen had issued those two lead-off walks and had to stare down Ronald Acuña Jr, Freddie Freeman and Ozzie Albies in a spot where a home run would tie the game. Would it have made a difference? Probably not. But Matzek issuing a double and two wild pitches made sure we’ll never know. 
  • Sooner or later if you keep putting baserunners on things will fall apart, but the manner in which they did was so frustrating. The Dodgers tied the game and took the lead on two balls that didn’t leave the infield grass. Austin Riley made a bad throw home on a chopper to third, and Anderson’s flip home on the Julio Urias squeeze bunt was too slow. The Dodgers are a great team; they don’t need extra outs in a tight game.
  • Sean Newcomb has had control issues his entire career, and the Dodgers weren’t biting on anything outside the strike zone all night. That was a recipe for disaster when he entered the game, and naturally he walked three of the four hitters he faced. 
  • Baseball is weird and sometimes unexplainable things like 11-run first innings or Bryse Wilson out dueling Clayton Kershaw just pop up. Anything can happen the next two days, but realistically that was the match-up the Braves had the best chance to win this weekend. Do you feel better about beating Kershaw or Trevor Bauer after the Braves were clobbered with Anderson on the mound against Urias. Maybe something crazy will happen, but it sure feels like we just watched part one of a sweep. 

Former Brave Of The Day: 

Brad Brach, who was in fact a Brave for what felt like about five minutes in 2018, pitched a perfect 1-2-3 seventh inning for the Reds tonight in a 6-4 win in St. Louis. 

Quote Of The Game:

“And so it goes…and so it goes…”

— Billy Joel

Tomorrow’s Goal: 

The bar is very low for this time, but we do have to have a bar. So I guess I’ll say just try to put yourself in a position to win the game in the final minutes, and see what happens from there.

52 thoughts on “Really good baseball team beats not very good baseball team 9-5”

  1. I like Newcomb more than most, but his command is so inconsistent that I don’t know if I would bring him in with runners on in a tight game. I get why Snit would want to bring in one of his “best” relievers with runners on to stop the bleeding, but not the one that is easily the most likely to walk the stadium.

    I seem to have missed why Dansby left the game. Anybody know?

  2. Ladies and gentlemen, you almost saw baseball history made. The Braves were within an eyelash of a rare back to back triple Grybo. However, it was only a double Grybo by Newcomb followed by a triple Grybo by Dayton. It was still an amazing bullpen display.

  3. @1 He’s a mop up man at this point. A decent pen can carry one. We have at least three.

  4. A week from now, you might be able to bring Shane Greene into that spot, depending on bullpen ordering. At the end of the day, the pen did fine, but the move of the game was not bringing in a fireman at that spot. Not often that the game gets decided in the 5th inning of a 2-1 game.

  5. I get the Snit criticism, but it ain’t him who decided to fill half the bullpen with Dayton, Santana, Tomlin, & Newcomb. (Was trying to come up with an inverse ‘O’Ventbrel’… Tomcomb Daytana?)

  6. @6: You say that as if Jacob Webb, Nate Jones, Jay Flaa, Carl Edwards Jr, and Jesse Biddle weren’t fecklessly tried as well. Snit been really busy sorting through the crap in the boxes in the basement, hauling the broken stuff to the dump and then heading over to Goodwill for some more stuff: people always throw out really serviceable stuff, so it’s hard to say why we keep getting the broken mismatched china.

    Oh, wait… you say there are also stores where you can buy stuff? Who knew?

  7. I just can’t help but look at the Padres hanging neck and neck with the Dodgers out west and think that should’ve been the Braves.

    Both came out of rebuilds with some exciting young talent 3 years ago. The difference? Padres went out and signed some top-flight free agents and traded prospects for some all-stars to supplement their home-grown core. They’ve committed to running a payroll $30 million more than the Braves, despite being in a “small market”.

    It just feels like the Braves played Lucy to the fans’ Charlie Brown. Right when things were primed to make some moves/adds to put this team over the top, they… didn’t.

  8. When you make any particular pitching move, there’s a percentage chance that it works out. The better the players, the higher the percentages, and the easier the manager looks smart. Last year, we had the best bullpen since O’Ventbrel. Melancon, Smith, Greene, Martin, Matzek, Minter, and O’Day all pitched at elite levels, and even a guy like Dayton had a 2.30 ERA. So it’s very easy to end up in the right place, especially when the offense creates much fewer situations where the correct bullpen decision is required to win.

    This year, it has completely flipped. The offense has reduced the margin of error, several important members are gone, others have regressed, and Snit is constantly in shot-or-stabbed scenarios. If we had Melancon, Greene, and O’Day, I guarantee we’d have 2-3 more wins. I don’t begrudge others for doing so, but I find it completely fruitless to question managerial bullpen usage decisions in these scenarios. There are no good options when you have to go to the pen in the 5th inning, and the pen is this thin.

    We did this last year with the starting pitching, and it cost us a championship. We did it this year with the bullpen and bench, and it may cost us a championship.

  9. @9

    This will be a big couple months for me as a Braves fan. The need to make moves is there. Is there payroll to spend? Will we trade prospects? If both of those answers are no, then alllllllll the talk about the Battery and the new stadium creating a windfall that would make us a top 10 payroll team will have been BS. I get that Covid crippled team revenue, but that happened everywhere, so unless we were more reliant on ancillary things like the Battery (something other teams don’t), then I don’t see why we’ve fallen so far back in payroll when we should have taken a step forward. Plus, when Georgia’s allowing full capacity before everyone else, that should have created some competitive advantage in creating revenue when other teams weren’t.

    But like I said, if there’s money to spend at the deadline, if they decide to part with young, cheap players, then I’ll feel better. But if they flattened the f@$%ing team in the offseason, and then use that as a reason to not buy at the deadline (“well, ya know, we’re just too far back to be buyers”), then that’ll be a gutpunch I don’t think I’m interested in overcoming.

  10. @11 – Man, I’m right there with you, Rob. Although at this point I’m willing to push my make/break line to March 2022. But if they go into NEXT season with as many holes, questions, and scrap heap players as they did this year… I think I’m done. It would mean they have no real intention of making the most out of this window.

  11. I deeply admire your support of flawed characters. But unless there are family, I don’t get it. I have been a most dedicated supporter since 1953.
    This is the way I see it
    Ownership minor league
    Pitching staff minor league
    Manager and pitching coach minor league
    Catcher minor league
    Left and center fielder minor league
    Bench minor league
    Result is a team close to being minor league
    How did this happen in one year?
    Well, three players had seasons they would never come close to duplicating
    Two are gone. Bullpen torn apart by cheap ownership. This team never had a chance to be close to last years team.
    Only in your dreams. And no DH because baseball has had morons as commissioners forcing Atlanta to put someone worthless in left field.
    A disaster has resulted, and more than likely will continue. Sports fans this is not a good team.
    We do love a positive if not accurate attitude.
    Now the James Madison girls softball team is positive and beautiful to behold.
    The Braves not so.

  12. I deeply admire your support of flawed characters. But unless there are family, I don’t get it. I have been a most dedicated supporter since 1953.
    This is the way I see it
    Ownership minor league
    Pitching staff minor league
    Manager and pitching coach minor league
    Catcher minor league
    Left and center fielder minor league
    Bench minor league
    Result is a team close to being minor league
    How did this happen in one year?
    Well, three players had seasons they would never come close to duplicating
    Two are gone. Bullpen torn apart by cheap ownership. This team never had a chance to be close to last years team.
    Only in your dreams. And no DH because baseball has had morons as commissioners forcing Atlanta to put someone worthless in left field.
    A disaster has resulted, and more than likely will continue. Sports fans this is not a good team.
    We do love a positive if not accurate attitude.
    Now the James Madison girls softball team is positive and beautiful to behold.
    The Braves not so.

  13. As for the Positives, Freddie did have a dinger…… and then K’d three times.

    It was an ugly game, exceeded in ugliness only by the double-dip sweep by the D’Backs. The Dodgers are everything the Braves ain’t.

  14. Hey Rob – – @4 you say “At the end of the day, the pen did fine…”

    Was that a typo?

    On a separate note: Chipper Jones gave the Athletic an interview the other day and made a few comments, including calling Liberty Media “absentee ownership”. While we all are rightfully giving A.A. some criticism, IMO the root cause is Liberty Media hedging its bets and trying to recoup its losses from last season’s quarantine/no-fan season. Rather than doubling-down and reinvesting in the team that overperformed last year and almost made the World Series – – they tried to do it on the cheap in 2021. Made worse by a few bold bets by A.A. which, thus far, haven’t panned out. At all.

    Just in my opinion, but if Freddie Freeman is allowed to walk a year removed from winning MVP, even if he’s struggling (which I have no doubt the contract situation – – and lack of more firepower behind him is playing a part) – – it’d simply be a travesty to see him go. He should already be locked up. Before the season. And THAT I blame on Liberty Media.

    I hope Chipper and folks with more influence continue to speak up – – and louder. Liberty Media’s ownership approach is bad for baseball. It’s real bad for Atlanta fans. And I wish there’s something we could all do about it – – other than whining on Braves Journal and social media for however many years now. Love the team. Hate, really hate the owners.

    There’s an urban myth that Bud Selig vetoed Arthur Blank’s bid to buy the Braves – – and steered the Braves over to LM. If it made Bud a few bucks, I’d believe it.

    Arthur Blank would have been extraordinary with the Braves. Don’t let the Falcons recent struggles fool you.

  15. @17 Sorry, what I meant to say was after the 5th inning, the pen did fine. Bringing Newcomb into that spot was really my only big issue with the pen’s performance. If we get through the 5th, we also don’t see Dayton, and I think we have a more manageable time.

  16. Speaking only of last night, the team is acting in desperation mode. If there were any confidence (or major league decision making), then Riley would have thrown the first grounder to first for an out and given up the tying run willingly. After that it is more than likely (a man on third and two outs instead of first and third with one out) that Anderson finishes the inning and Urias is pinch-hit for. Then our pitcher has gone five and theirs only four.

    Someone has to get these guys to start playing conservative, fundamental baseball. That’s the biggest difference I saw between the two teams. The Dodgers were relaxed and didn’t make fundamental mental mistakes. In every one of the first 5 innings, they stuck to their process and didn’t panic. They didn’t care that they didn’t have a hit through 4 innings, they had confidence that something would happen. The Braves played like their only chance was to win 1-0.

    There was a post the other day about the clubhouse vibe being horrible and I believe that. These guys are playing like that. Someone, manager or GM, needs to shake these guys up. Someone needs to give them the Billy Beane line from Moneyball, “You may not look like a winning team but you are one. So play like one.”

    I do believe there are lots of holes but this team is better than they are currently playing. Get rid of all the Little League crap and things will be much better.

  17. @12 The deadline is where the organization can have the biggest impact, IMO, and specifically this one. That’s why I’m not willing to wait past the deadline to form another observation about LM. Right now, I doubt teams are trading prospects, what with the 2020 minor league season providing no data for which to evaluate prospects, and the minor league season just started. But two months from now, I think teams will be trading prospects. Also, AA seems to like making trades at the deadline because you can spend less money to get more players. I really don’t have too big of a problem spending the first couple months trying retreads to see what shakes loose and then addressing your issues in July. But if they have ruined their own season to where it doesn’t make sense to even be buyers, then that’s unforgivable, IMO.

  18. @17: I realize you call the Arthur Blank thing an “urban myth” but it doesn’t make sense even on that level. The Braves are owned by Liberty Media because John Malone wanted out of Time Warner and didn’t want to pay taxes: period. It was Liberty Media or continued ownership by Time Warner. Those were literally the only possibilities. MLB had to approve the transfer, but if they had turned it down Time Warner had no intention of selling the Braves. Indeed, they had to structure the deal so that Time Warner made no money on it, or especially Malone.

  19. @23 – JonathanF, I don’t think the picture you are painting represents the complete picture. Arthur Blank was involved in discussions with Time Warner prior to the Braves being sent to LM (in quite a deal involving craft magazines LOL).

  20. @24: yeah, but the deal fell apart not because of MLB, but because Time Warner’s largest shareholder (Malone) had an alternative view of the disposition of the assets.

  21. @26 – Interesting. Appreciate your insights JonathanF. Malone is a legend. I imagine on paper the Braves franchise is worth more now than what they were prior to LM’s acquisition. But you don’t get a lot of WS trophies based on valuations, ya know?

    Non-corporate ownership never guarantees trophies or more success than the alternative. But I just hate how things have evolved here, in this case.

  22. I hadn’t known that history either. Boy, if it weren’t for self-dealing, the Braves wouldn’t have no dealing at all! Ever since Bill Bartholomay sold the team, both Turner and Time Warner both used the club for quite a bit of internal accounting trickery, cutting sweetheart internal deals across the club and broadcast divisions of the company — and then Malone and Liberty took over and kept it up as very much more of the same. Turner didn’t mind spending like a drunken buffoon because the TV cash was cheap at the time.

    Now that the television dollars have long since peaked, the suits appear to have determined that their return on investment for payroll spending has dried up, too.

  23. My brother said he’s gonna take LA tonight. I told him to beware the worst thing in gambling: when you bet AGAINST your team when they’re struggling, and then they win.

  24. I’m for even a random firing at this point. These guys seem like they’re off in space.

  25. I just don’t get all these Little League plays. That has nothing to do with talent. It’s just mental. This team is in a mental funk.

  26. Bobby would have gotten himself tossed there, and it would have been completely justified.

  27. One thing I will say, we usually like to complain about the announcers and broadcast in general. I am impressed so far with the broadcast team with Fox. They have some great insight. I loved the graphic showing how the different pitches come out of Kershaw’s hand.

  28. Remember when the Braves were a good fielding team? Riley 30 plus home runs maybe.
    20 plus errors for sure.
    Bottom line asset or liability?

  29. @29: nah, nothing wrong with hedging in a spot like that, so long as you bet an amount such that you’re still happy if your team wins.

  30. My apologies if some perceive me being negative. I must comment when the word if is used. Most never take in mind the other person can counter with their group of if’s. So for every if you have, I have mine. It’s the same as when someone gets caught stealing and the next batter hits a homer. Many say if he was not caught stealing we would have an other run. No, no, no it does not work that way.
    Maybe the pitcher would have thrown a different pitch, or since pitching from the stretch would have located the pitch in a better location.
    If the Braves won one of three games they may have won the World Series. If the Braves had a major league manager, they might have better results.
    Now it does have its uses. If the Braves don’t get better ownership they will continue to miss out on playing in the World Series. No iff’s about that.

  31. I sure disagree with the decision to take out Luke in that situation. Lefty/righty be damned. He’s pitching very well.

    Oddly, Luke didn’t walk anyone.

  32. If either Ozzie or Riley had just decided to take until they got a called strike, then Treinan would have just walked in two runs.

    What a wasted inning.

  33. Then he walks Swanson on 4 pitches … and Adrianna swings at 1st pitch …these guys aint smart enough to play this game ..

  34. Probably wouldn’t have made any difference, but I’d have liked to have seen Sandoval for Adrianza.

  35. Yeah, those AB’s by Albies and Riley were inexcusable. From RAJ through Heredia, I think treinen threw three pitches in the strike zone—and they didn’t score. Could come back to haunt us.

  36. Both Smith’s looked good in that final inning. I think Kevan gave some pretty good examples of excellent pitch framing.

  37. @47 yes, but it was the right pitch whether it got called or not. And Will Smith is finally looking like what we thought we bought. Really well-pitched 9th. Gotta give some credit to Kevan Smith though; his targets and framing gave Will a lot of help.

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