Well, that sucked. I can’t remember the taxonomy of Braves losses any more, but this game was one we’ve seen a bunch. As Doctor Seuss might have said, describing a game like this:
UNLESS our whole lineup
homers a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better.
Touki has officially reached the vaunted “gee, I dunno” status, previously achieved by Kyle Wright and Sean Newcomb. DOB’s Snitker interview drew out the unsurprising fact that he’s probably out of the rotation, but the broader takeaway is, if Snit and the organization had long-term confidence in him, that post-game interview is where it would have come out. Silence spoke volumes.
The offense left somewhat to be desired. Hitting in their home park, the Braves had Gray on the ropes in the first inning — a double and two singles in the inning, 27 pitches thrown — but let him off the hook with just one run in, as Duvall and d’Arnaud both struck out with two men on. The very first batter in the bottom of the inning, Trevor Story, hit a 430-foot bomb to center, tying the game, and from that point on, the Braves did not look like the better team.
Touki had 1-2-3 innings in the first, third, and fourth. But as was so often the case, he was working behind hitters and clearly struggling to command both the fastball and the curveball. In the fifth, a leadoff single was followed by a two-run homer, and Snitker gave him the hook. He may never get a better shot to stay in the rotation in an Atlanta uniform.
As if to underline the stakes in Touki’s career, Sean Newcomb made an appearance as the The Ghost of Christmas Past. In spite of plenty of his characteristically shaky control, he ultimately threw two hitless innings with four strikeouts against one walk. That’s looking like Touki’s upside. Either that, or he needs a team of sports psychologists and pitching coaches to help him figure out how to sharpen his command. Right now, he doesn’t know where it’s going in half of his innings, and hitters can sit dead red.
In the meantime, our boys were making Jon Gray‘s evening a lot more enjoyable, going down hitless in the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, and 7th innings, and squandering a one-out double in the 4th. Finally, with our old buddy Jhoulys Chacin on the mound, Freddie got a triple and Adam Duvall hit a two-run homer to cut the deficit to 5-4, but there it would stay. An awful C.B. Bucknor strike call in the bottom of the 9th significantly expanded their closer’s strike zone, and Carlos Estevez recorded his third save against the Braves in a two-week period.
Go get ’em, Huascar.