Bullpen wastes brilliant Morton start, Braves fall 4-3

This was a game where not a whole lot happened over the course of the first seven innings, then suddenly all sorts of craziness broke out.

The first seven innings were a pitcher’s duel, and one of the best we’ve seen all year. Charlie Morton held a no-hitter through six innings in what was almost certainly his best start of the season. He seemed to have command of everything over his seven innings as he allowed a single hit and a single walk, striking out 10 Reds. I didn’t think there was any reason not to throw him back out there for the eighth, especially since we almost certainly would have thrown him back out there if he’d still had the no-hitter working. But more on the bullpen meltdown in a minute.

While Morton was ripping the Reds lineup to shreds, the Braves simply couldn’t get much going against Cincinnati starter Luis Castillo. There was a lot of talk about him being a prime trade deadline target during the game, and it’s easy to see why. He threw seven innings and allowed just one run, scattering six hits and striking out six. The only run he gave up was on a colossal bomb off the bat of Marcell Ozuna in the fourth, a ball that bounced into and out of the second deck in left field.

So, the eighth. The Braves had a 1-0 lead and Morton had only thrown 94 pitches. I know that that’s about the time we’d normally take a starter out, but he had shown no signs of tiring and, as I mentioned above, had the seeing-eye single to lead off the seventh found it’s way into Arcia’s glove, he’d have certainly been back out there. Also, our shorthanded bullpen has been well documented.

But we did take him out, and went to Collin McHugh. I know folks around here have decided that McHugh is terrible, but he’s been very good recently, so I don’t think it was a bad choice if you were gonna go to the bullpen. It clearly didn’t work out, though, as he gave up four straight hits and three runs to turn the game upside down.

Now down 3-1, the Braves had just three outs left to work with. But the visitors had a lot of power in their lineup, and the Reds bullpen is not very good. Ozuna hit another long home run to lead off the inning, and then with two outs, Michael Harris, a man who has had to suffer recent talk that he can’t or won’t pull the ball with authority, launched a game-tying home run that went at least two-thirds of the way up in the right field seats.

However, that brought us to the bottom of the frame, which was a total disaster. After A.J. Minter allowed a leadoff single, the Braves had two chances to get a big first out. Minter had Tommy Pham picked off, but a suboptimal throw from Olson threw Dansby out of position and Dansby couldn’t apply the tag at second. Then a few pitches later, the same batter (Joey Votto) hit a pop-up foul over by the stands down the left-field line. Any major league level left fielder would’ve called off the two infielders and made the catch, but Ozuna is certainly not that…suffice it to say that the ball hit the ground. Votto walked a couple pitches later, Minter hit the next batter with a pitch to load the bases, and Albert Almora singled through the drawn-in infield to win the game.

So not a great way to end the road trip, obviously, and it cost us a game in the standings. We’re now 3.5 back for the division and four games ahead of the last non-playoff team in the wild card race. And now comes a 10-game homestand featuring series against the Cardinals (who are in the wild card race) and the Mets, sandwiched around a three-game set against the Nats.

37 thoughts on “Bullpen wastes brilliant Morton start, Braves fall 4-3”

  1. Painful. By my count, Olson went 0-3 with a runner in scoring position in the first 7 innings. And then that throw to Dansby. Sheesh.

    McHugh – no big surprise there.

    But Minter’s inability to maintain composure & get results in his IP was surprising.

  2. Touki traded to the Angels for cash.

    Well, that’s a sad one. Hope he can put it together. Always liked him.

  3. Thanks, Nick. It is a shame that the bullpen lost the game for us. McHugh has been quite good overall, but had a bad outing. Minter has been excellent, but he was unlucky. That’s going to happen to all bullpens. It’s still true that the Braves’ pen has been the best in the league.

    Morton really was brilliant. If he pitches anything like this the rest of the way, the rotation is in great shape. The three starts in Cincy were as good as it gets.

    And Harris gets better every day. Wow. His defensive play in the 8th was terrific.

  4. I go with Jeff Tweety.
    The Atlanta Braves manager does not have a clue when it comes to player management especially the most most important part the pitching staff.
    Yes I could do better. Why you ask? I am 79 and have never done anything below very good in my life including five championships out of seven years managing. Twenty seven out of forty one playing. I now own and manage the number one craft soda distribution company on the planet.
    Let’s start a new winning streak.

  5. DeGrom
    Great pitcher of course
    Healthy pitcher, an other story
    Question is, do Braves fans wish him great health?

  6. After watching a highlight package this morning, I amend my description of Harris’ home run. I short-changed it: it went at least three-fourths of the way up the right field seats and possibly as much as 80 percent. In any case, you get the idea. It was an absolute tank job.

  7. Rosario and Matzek are back. Ford to AAA, Bracho DFA’d.

    Merry 4th everyone. Be safe.

  8. It’s like a deadline deal without costing us any prospects! (I’m preempting Chip here; we can look forward to the same comment if Soroka and/or Yates are activated this month.)

  9. I…. Don’t think I knew we had anyone named “Silvino Bracho” on our team. Ya think I woulda noticed that name.

    How on earth are the Yankees, Phillies, Angels, and Pirates off on the Fourth of July?!?! Someone smarter than me tweeted “In some meeting in the off-season, MLB really decided to keep the ghost runner and give the Yankees the day off today”

  10. How many HOF pitchers only had two pitches? If you trouble naming ten rather quickly you are not a fan of the game.
    I am not going to help.you.

  11. Hopefully Rosario will return to his offensive form soon. Although he’s by no means a great fielder, he inspires a LOT more confidence in left than Ozuna.

  12. 5-run inning without a home run and all with 2-out. That’s a very satisfying inning

  13. I know he’s not really El Hombre anymore, but I definitely had anxiety when I saw Pujols come up in that spot.

  14. @29 I thought the same thing. So Smithy loads the bases, but then he can get Arenado and Pujols out? And the worst part is that means Snit’s just gonna keep throwing him out there.

  15. The winning pitcher could’ve been worse. At least they got it correct by the rules (reliever who had the most to do with winning the game after the starter didn’t go five). I half-expected them to give it to Chavez as the next guy up, but whoever it was was at least awake enough to realize Chavez let them back in the game and instead gave it to someone who wasn’t terrible (O’Day).

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