I wasn’t able to see much of tonight’s game. I did see Tuesday’s game. Turns out they were the same game, making the recap simple:
The Braves starter struggled, allowing the Red Sox an early big lead. But the Braves offense clawed back to draw even. Then the bullpen gave up a big two out home run to give the Sox a three run lead. The Braves went to the bottom of the 9th trailing 10-7, scored once, and lost the game 10-8.
Actually, a slight difference from last night: the Braves took the lead in this one, 7-6, rather than tying it up. And the big home run by the Bosox was a grand slam, rather than a three run shot. That only served to make tonight’s loss even more dispiriting. Speaking of dispiriting, Ronald drove in the 8th run with a double in the 9th, but senselessly got thrown out at third, when Freddie would have been the tying run at the plate with one out.
There’s a lot more that I could tell you about tonight’s game. Lots of guys on offense had big nights; several pitchers pitched poorly. It’s all in the box score.
What’s not fully captured in the box score is how frustrating this Braves team is. In my 56 years of following the Braves, I don’t remember a team that got me down the way this one does.
* * *
Today is the birthday of Ernie Johnson, Sr. He was born June 16, 1924, in Brattleboro, VT. He pitched for the Braves throughout the 1950’s, and then from 1961 until he fully retired in 1999, he was one of the voices of the Braves in the broadcast booth. When Pete Van Wieren joined the broadcast team in 1976, he referred to Ernie on air as “the voice of the Braves.” Ernie leaned over during the next inning and told Pete, “You don’t have to do that. We’re all the voices of the Braves.”
By all accounts, Ernie was one of the nicest and most humble guys in the game. And from 1976 to 1989, Ernie, Pete, and Skip Caray were the voices of the Braves as Ted Turner put the team on the satellite and they became America’s Team. The team was pretty good in 1982 and 1983; other than that, those were lean years on the field (to put it mildly). And yet, I derived enormous pleasure from watching the team and listening to those guys during that time.
There is a great bio of ole Ernie on the SABR website Ernie Johnson – Society for American Baseball Research (sabr.org) , which says in part:
“Over his 32 years in broadcasting, Johnson worked more than 4,100 games, and through it all maintained his grace and gentle humor. For all of the home runs hit by Hank Aaron and knuckleballs thrown by Phil Niekro, nobody spread more goodwill for the Braves than Johnson. “I love baseball,” he once said, “and I think it shows.”
….While going through the many passages from the online tributes Braves fans had posted about his father, Ernie Jr. read one that buckled his knees. It said, ‘When you heard Ernie Johnson do a game, it was like summertime would never end.'”
* * *
Like Ernie, I love baseball—and he is one of the reasons why. But unlike Ernie, my love of baseball is not showing much right now. If you watched me watching the Braves, you’d see a scowl on my face and hear a lot of cursing and moaning. I had to leave and missed the Braves comeback in the 5th and 6th innings. But I was back in front of my TV for the top of the 7th when Greene loaded the bases and Minter came on to surrender the grand slam to (checking notes—was it Martinez, or Bogaerts, or Devers?) No, it was pinch hitter Christian Arroyo, and he got ahead of him 0-2 before surrendering the fatal blow. Be glad you weren’t in the same room with me when that happened.
I can’t give up on the Braves. At the same time, I can barely stand to watch them.
Four game series with the Cardinals starts tomorrow. The bullpen can’t get any worse, can it?