Braves Hold On For 3-2 Win Over Reds

I guess it’s something? 

The bar for the 2021 Braves is the lowest it’s been for the franchise in four years. Some of it is because of injuries, some of it is underachieving, some of it is self-inflicted wounds. 

But one way or another, this is where we are. And where we are is just looking to check the smallest boxes. But in Friday night’s 3-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds, the smallest boxes were checked. 

Scored more than two runs? Yep. Got hits from the bottom third of the lineup? Some big ones tonight. Getting six innings from the starting pitcher? Drew Smyly held the fort. Didn’t blow a lead in the ninth inning? Will Smith made it interesting, but held on for the save. 

It’s not a lot, but it’s something. And in 2021, something is a lot. 

Positives: 

  • Drew Smyly gave the Braves an opportunity to win. Don’t look now, but the Braves have actually won four consecutive Smyly starts. The most impressive part of tonight was how he navigated his achilles heel in place that could have been the breeding ground for a disaster. In a notoriously small ballpark, the Braves’ pitcher who has been plagued by home runs the most this season did not let one sneak over the wall. 

He gave up eight flyouts, but he never made the big mistake that could have turned this game around. Damage limitation is the name of the game for Smyly, and tonight he held the Reds at bay just enough.

  • Speaking of home runs, should we talk about Dansby Swanson’s power surge? His struggles at the plate have been well documented, but none of that applies to the long ball. Swanson hit his 13th dinger of the season tonight, and is just four away from matching his career-high in homers for a season with 87 games left. Is he going to sneak his way into the fold for 2022 just on the strength of home runs? It’s worth asking the question right now.
  • Guillermo Heredia’s wrists: Good for wielding swords and hitting game-winning home runs. 
  • The biggest pitch of the night was the double play AJ Minter induced from Joey Votto with the go-ahead runs on base in the eighth. I’m sure a lot of us were thinking “here we go again” with two runners on, but Minter executed his trademark cutter and got the groundball he needed. 
  • No hits to show for it, but welcome back to the lineup Ronald Acuña Jr.!

Negatives: 

  • Luke Jackson was touched up for the second night in a row tonight when Eugenio Suárez tagged him for a seventh inning homer. The Braves don’t have enough reliable relievers for one of the ones that has been pitching well to suddenly drop off. Pitchers have blips all the time and two shaky outings isn’t a reason to hit the panic button, but it’s definitely something to monitor. 
  • William Contreras has officially hit the skids. The rookie catcher is 11-for-59 at the plate in June, slashing .186/.238/.305 for the month. The even scarier part is that .543 OPS still makes him far and away the best hitting catcher on the roster this month.
  • 1-for-10 with RISP and eight runners left on base for the Braves tonight, and four of those nine outs were against a Cincinnati bullpen that has been disastrous this week. It didn’t cost the Braves, but that game never should have been at the point where it was in doubt down to the final pitch. 

Former Brave Of The Day: 

Former Brave on Former Brave crime tonight in Arlington, where Charlie Culberson knocked Mike Minor out of the game with a two-run double en route to a 9-4 Rangers win over the Royals. To be clear, Culberson wins the award in this case.

Quote Of The Game: 

“Winning depends on where you put your priorities. It’s usually best to put them over the fence.” 

– Jason Giambi

Tomorrow’s Goal: 

Don’t let 2021 Luis Castillo turn into pre-2021 Luis Castillo. This is a pitcher who has had a terrible time this season. Take advantage of it and put up a crooked number or two early.

45 thoughts on “Braves Hold On For 3-2 Win Over Reds”

  1. Thanks Alan. The Braves have scored 3 runs or less in 8 straight games now, but fortunately you always have a shot to win when you have bonafide ace Todd Andrew Smyly on the hill. Smyly now has a 3.51 ERA since May 1st.

  2. Who was wrong about Pache: the defensive grades while he was in Atlanta or the Braves org? He did not grade out as an elite defender. So who is wrong?

  3. Some smart one said that you play the game on grass, not paper.

    Thank you, Alan. I enjoy your posts. (Doesn’t that make your day?)

  4. @3: Except in Tampa Bay, Miami, Texas and Arizona — and Toronto if they ever play there again.

  5. @2–isn’t the sample of Pache’s defense in the big leagues far too small to draw any conclusion from those grades? Scouts have raved so much for so long about his defense that I’ve got to believe it’s going to be elite. That is, if he ever learns to hit enough to play in the big leagues.

  6. Whoever was responsible for the surgical procedure and rehab should be out of a job. What a clusterf*ck

  7. Arm and Achilles problems? I’ve stayed quiet on this, but I’ve agreed with Chief from the get-go. This just cements it. Soroka will be lucky to ever pitch again in the majors, and he’ll never do so effectively. Brings back memories of me being ridiculed on this very board many years ago for saying that Andy Marte would never be an effective major league hitter after being touted as the golden child.

  8. @9 I think Rob is gonna owe you some money, huh? Your 50/50 proposition almost seems optimistic now.

  9. @14 He wouldn’t take me up on that bet. Instead I have to take his money on the Smyly bet.

    If Chief knew Soroka was going to re-tear an Achilles, then I welcome his stock tips and tonight’s Florida lotto numbers.

  10. But also, this effing sucks. This whole season effing sucks, our luck effing sucks, and, well, really, everything just effing sucks. 😂😂😂😂😀😀😀😀😀🙂🙂🙂🙂🙁🙁🙁🙁☹️☹️☹️😢😢😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭

  11. @18 I am sure the best that Liberty Media allows…probably a walk in clinic and surgery in a dark alley. You have to feel for Soroka….he deserved better than this

  12. I feel terrible for Soroka. Ugh.

    Also – what a bummer that the Braves have an entire rotation’s worth of guys on the DL again. At least Fried and Toussaint are back soon.

  13. Some are injury prone. Some just do a unproductive strengthening program. Balance of opposing muscles given no consideration. I trained high school and college wrestlers for seven years never had a serious injury. Best sport there is by the way.
    After 162 talent will and will not present itself. Judging now is a fruitless process.
    But I can’t help but offer some predictions.
    Riley hitting under .250
    Freeman hitting over .275
    No 300 hitter. Acuna .285 to .295
    Rest around their career average.
    No one will deserve a wow. Maybe Acuna.
    The season will be filled with as most are with ups and downs. But this year they will be 50/50 resulting in a 84 win season at best.
    I suggest the Hawks win two at home.
    How about the Canadians. Lighting in 5.
    Please enjoy the weekend.

  14. @22 It’s real dire straits when you’re waiting for Touki to come back. But yeah, pretty much an entire rotation: Soroka, Fried, Ynoa, Davidson, and Touki. I don’t know if Touki would even stick in the current rotation though. Here’s hoping.

    The glass-half-full side of me is pretty impressed with the storms this team has weathered, and they’re still in it. The glass-half-empty side of me says that’s all well and good, but there are no reinforcements on the way, so we’re still screwed.

  15. As sad as the situation is with Soroka I think it’s crazy to blame the doctor. There are way too many variables that can’t be controlled.

  16. @25

    Perhaps, but I’d probably get my second surgery somewhere else just on general principle.

  17. In today’s game of 20-20 Hindsight, Riley should’ve taken off from third there. It was a bit of a high chopper and with Ender up next…yeah.

  18. What worries me most is that he wasn’t really doing anything especially strenuous either time it popped.

  19. Our shift is so bad. We either give up a hit pitching away from it or pitch to it and they hit it through it.

  20. Chip lauded Heredia for a productive out in advancing the runners to second and third with one out. I get it, but having a runner at third with less than two outs doesn’t mean what it used to. I haven’t looked at the stats, but I would think with all the strikeouts the odds of scoring from third with one out is a lot lower than it was a couple of decades ago.

    I realize Contreras didn’t strike out, but a weak grounder rather than a fly ball cost us a run. Our hitters don’t seem to be able to make the kind of contact that can get the runner home. So it turns out that the “productive” out is still just an out.

    And with Ender in the lineup, you don’t need to be giving away any more outs.

  21. @28

    The initial injury was a pretty classic Achilles popping situation. Pushing off that leg with his weight leaning forward, trying a quick change of direction. Nothing fishy about that (other than that 99.9% of the time someone does that nothing happens, obviously…but if the Achilles is gonna go, it always seems like it’s on a movement like that).

    The re-tear, I don’t know. If he was simply walking, obviously that’s odd. But given the problems with it that necessitated the exploratory surgery, something about it seems like it never really took.

  22. I just now saw the comments about Skyline in the last thread, and I am compelled to comment. I grew up in west Texas and moved to Ohio around fifteen years ago. The first time I had Skyline, I bought it in a can from a grocery store, warmed it up and prepped the accents I usually make (shredded cheddar, diced onions, mayyybe tortilla chips), and it was so different than my experience that I ended up throwing it out because I thought surely it had gone bad.

  23. I mean…why Ender still? Are he and AA related? He is sub AAA worthy. Does he have the pictures? He has stranded 10 runners in the 16 innings of his last 2 starts.

  24. @30

    You’re probably right in a general sense. That is the situation I was talking about, though, where after runners were moved to second and third with one out, Contreras bounced one to third and I thought Riley should’ve taken off from third. You need to force the issue with Ender and the pitcher coming up next, and I think there’s a decent shot Riley would’ve scored (and if not, at least you tried). It would’ve set up an all-or-nothing play for the third baseman, who would’ve had to get his throw over or around Riley. Riley stayed put, though, and that took away any chance to score in the inning with Ender up next.

  25. @35: What’s worse? Food poisoning or frostbite? I think it depends on context.

  26. Much of this team doesn’t belong up here. Santana, Ender, Newk, Adrianza, Sandoval, Almonte, Chavez, Smith… when you hook your train to minor leaguers you get these results

  27. @39 and more. Contreras, Roark, K Smith, and maybe the manager and pitching coach. Ownership is certainly not Big League.

  28. @40 true story, although Contreras as the backup would be fine and he has long term upside. The others…woof

  29. @39 That’s one way to put it. I prefer to think of it as losing two silver sluggers, the opening day CF being in over his head and losing four starting pitchers to injury.

  30. @33 Any Cincinnati is not really “chili”. True chili comes out of Texas. Texas Terlingua is the only one that’s true (South Texas).

    Oh, and, by the way, North Carolina knows nothing about barbeque.

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