In a season full of missed opportunities, that was definitely one of them. The Braves drew five walks, got the benefit of three errors and churned out seven hits, leading to a grand total of two runs against Sandy Alcantara and the Marlins in a 3-2 loss to Miami.
Amazingly in a season where the bullpen has been a grease fire and the starting pitching has dipped as low as needing Jesse Chavez to start a game, the bottom of the lineup is the crux of the issue. Between Dansby Swanson’s disappointing year, Travis d’Arnaud injury, Cristian Pache’s struggles and Marcell Ozuna’s placement on the commissioner’s list for his abhorrent acts, this lineup simply lacks the necessary talent to consistently score runs.
With Swanson, Guillermo Heredia, Abraham Almonte and Kevan Smith comprising the bottom half of the order, the results were predictable. That quartet combined for three hits, and when you tack it on with the pitcher’s spot picking up an 0-for that’s 3-for-20 outside the top four spots in the lineup.
And as expected, the Braves couldn’t get the big hit and dropped a golden opportunity to keep their momentum from the last three games going.
- A rough middle for Kyle Muller today, but the beginning and end were mostly strong. His command fell off in the third and fourth innings, but his stuff looked crisp from the start and he regained his composure well after a rocky third inning. It’s unfortunate that the Garrett Cooper home run ended up deciding the game, but that’s another building block for Muller.
- Ozzie Albies is still scorching hot. If only he had gotten a little bit more of the barrel on that 106.6 MPH rocket that ended the game…
- Could Jesse Chavez be a legitimate bullpen piece out of nowhere? He relieved Muller in the sixth and got four big outs. None of his stuff is hard, but all of it has break and he now has a 3.18 ERA in 5 ⅔ innings this season.
- Tyler Matzek had a solid ninth inning, and it wasn’t just against left-handed hitters. He at least gave the Braves a chance to win that game.
- There’s not really a nicer way to say it, but you’re not getting there with the bottom of the lineup as currently constructed. Whether the answer is finding another catcher to take Kevan Smith’s place, calling up Orlando Arcia to play left field or making a trade, something has to happen if the Braves actually want to make a serious run at this
- Yes, the one outlier was the 20-run outburst vs. the Mets, but the Braves have failed to score more than four runs in 14 of their last 15 games now. 11 They’ve failed to even reach four runs in 12 of those 15 games. This is an untenable situation with the offense right now, and frankly it’s amazing the Braves have even gone 8-7 in those 15 games.
- 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position and 10 runners left on base. Austin Riley in particular had a rough day stranding two runners to end the third and grounding into a costly twin-killing to end the fifth.
- Dansby Swanson is 6-for-38 at the plate over his last 10 games with a .519 OPS. It’s a really small sample size, but his wRC+ for the season is 87, almost exactly in line with his career clip of 86. Ladies and gentlemen, your five-hole hitter.
- The Braves had a hit in each of the final seven innings of the game and a baserunner in eight out of nine frames. It was just a parade of missed opportunities, especially the one in the first inning where the Braves let Sandy Alcantara off the hook after he walked the first two batters of the game.
- Pablo Sandoval has one hit in his last 22 at-bats, and suddenly the bench is looking like the black hole we all thought it would back in Spring Training.
Former Brave Of The Day: The hottest team in baseball currently resides in Milwaukee. The Brewers won their 11th game in a row today, spurred on by three hits and four RBIs from former Brave Jace Peterson.
Quote Of The Game:
We know we’re better than this, but we can’t prove it.
— Tony Gwynn
Charlie Morton is second in all of baseball in hit by pitches with 12, and he hit the opening batter of the game in his last start against the Mets on Tuesday. In a series where hitting a batter early in the game could very well mean an ejection, the goal for tomorrow is just to get out of the game without any shenanigans.