Dodgers 8, Braves 6

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Atlanta Braves – Box Score – September 02, 2011 – ESPN.

Well, at least the top relievers got a day off!

The Braves had a 5-0 lead after three, and blew it. They got three in the second and two in the third, and pretty much everybody contributed. Feeling pretty good. And then the offense didn’t go into Hibernation Mode exactly, but more of a Blue Screen of Death, locking up with runners on base.

Brandon Beachy went six innings. In four of them he faced the minimum (three times 1-2-3, once getting a double play after a walk) but in the other two he struggled. He was lucky to get out of the fourth with a double play to hold the Dodgers to two runs, and pretty lucky to give up only one run in the sixth. Anyway, he wasn’t going to be able to start the seventh.

I am guessing that with Craig Kimbrel having pitched three nights in a row he was unavailable, so everyone moved back an inning, so Arodys Vizcaino, not Eric O’Flaherty, started the seventh. He got the first guy… then allowed six straight men to reach, leaving with the Dodgers leading 6-5 and the bases loaded. Cristhian Martinez promptly let two of the runners score on a single before finally ending the nightmare inning with a double play.

Speaking of double plays, that was what the Braves were doing while the Dodgers got up off the mat, hitting into double plays — three of them from the fourth to seventh innings. Michael Bourn tried to hit into one in the eighth, too, but the second baseman slipped on the pivot and he beat it out. Dan Uggla hit a solo homer in the ninth to cut it to two, and Chipper Jones walked to bring the tying run to the plate (as had happened in the eighth) but Freddie Freeman struck out and Jason Heyward hit… sigh… a groundout to second to end it.

124 thoughts on “Dodgers 8, Braves 6”

  1. I remember the Jason Heyward that made me confident the Braves would win when he was the tying or winning run at the plate in the final out. Let’s bring that guy back, because the new one has outstayed his welcome.

  2. Wish there was some way to check to see if Heyward is setting some kind of single season record for most ground outs to second with less than 350 at-bats.

    Game the Braves would have probably won if they had went with the usual three starting in the 7th.

  3. I missed watching the game – what the sh*t happened with Vizcaino? He looked so very, very good when he was up earlier this season. Mentally I was counting him as part of our crack playoff relief corps, does this game cast doubt on that scenario?

  4. You’re probably right, Dan, but that’s why we’re so lucky to be in a postion where we only need to win about half our remaining games. So use O’Ventbrel every other game…. so what?

    Cardinals about to lose, and another day off the calendar.

  5. Game the Braves would have probably won if they had went with the usual three starting in the 7th.

    True, but we can’t go with them all the time. That’s why it’s important, if we’re going to leverage these guys as the ultimate key to our success, to not use them insipidly like Kimbrel was used three nights ago, pitching to “get some work in” in the 9-2 loss to the Nationals. The way this team has played, “getting work in” for the bullpen is a damned given. You don’t have to wait very long, “work” for the bullpen is always around the corner.

    Frediot earned the tag with his Kimbrel usage the other night.

    It’s really too bad Arodys imploded tonight. I’m going to pretend it’s a one-night phenomenon and he’ll go back to being the budding stopper he’s looked like the last few weeks.

  6. but that’s why we’re so lucky to be in a postion where we only need to win about half our remaining games. So use O’Ventbrel every other game…. so what?

    The Braves shouldn’t take their foot off the gas pedal until it’s locked up. Don’t be the 2007 Mets.

  7. So if Kimbrel hadn’t been used with a 7 run deficit the other night, we maybe would’ve gone with our top 3 relievers tonight, and odds are we would’ve won? Yeah…

    I didn’t watch the game, but with only a 2 run lead, how does Fredi not yank Vizcaino before he allows 6 baserunners?

  8. I would be a little more worried about being the 2007 Mets if the Cardinals or the Giants were anywhere near as good as the 2007 Phillies. Well, that, and the fact that we aren’t going to reactivate Glavine.

    Taking your foot off the gas and overusing your bullpen to lock up a wildcard by 12 games are two different things.

  9. I completely agree with using Vizcaino in the manner he has been used, and was used tonight (and one bad outing doesn’t change my opinion.)

    If you’ve got 4 who are between “good” and “shut-down,” to cover 3 innings, one guy is going to rest every night. And then you factor in the games you’re not even in, and there will be ample opportunity to keep everyone fresh.

    But you can’t just write down tonight’s bullpen assignment before the game and go with it, regardless of results. When Vizcaino loaded the bases with 1 out, (THE FIRST TIME) you have to pull him. You HAVE to. Regardless of what you wrote down on the back of your coloring book.

    Seriously. He gets an out, then loads the bases. Good time to go get him? Nah, we’re still winning.. Bases clearing double. Good time to go get him? NAH! Now we’re losing! He can’t hurt anything! Wild pitch moves the runner to third, two more walks, loads the bases for the second time in the inning.. NOW I can go get him!

  10. For anybody wondering what the song is in that 5-hour energy drink commercial on Braves Radio:

    This recording’ll bust your brains out. Good stuff.

  11. I missed watching the game – what the sh*t happened with Vizcaino?

    His control was a bit off, but the first three hits weren’t exactly smoked. Sellers hit a ground ball in the right spot, then a couple soft liners. Loney’s double was hit hard, though, and then Vizcaino got flustered and started missing the strike zone.

  12. Heyward’s swing is completely messed up, and I don’t see any sign of improvement at all. His trademark groundout to second is as good as ever. If you need an out, just pitch him low and inside and he’ll get himself out. All this talk about him having made adjustments and getting it going again is hogwash. Where is that adjustment? What exactly has he changed? His swing looks the same as always, and his approach hasn’t changed one bit.

    Nor have the results.

  13. @17

    He had been driving the ball and hitting well. Every time he hits the ball to second doesn’t mean he is broken.

  14. He had been driving the ball and hitting well.

    What? You’ve got to be kidding me. He has a grand total of 16 doubles for the year, ONE (!) of those came in August. Add two homers and one triple and you have FOUR extra base hits for the MONTH. So much for “driving the ball well”.

    And “hitting well”? Christ! His OBP over the past 28 days is .286, and .261 over the past 14. He is 10-for 47 in August. Francoeurian numbers.

  15. @19
    He specifically says “hitting the ball well”. Heyward has been striking the ball with much more authority over the past few weeks and not every hard hit ball is a hit.

  16. You can blame Fredi for the loss for having used Kimbrel the other night, blah, blah, blah, but I think this game shows the limitations of the Braves and how dependent they have become on the bullpen. The bullpen had a bad night-it happens. But if you have five runs by the third, you ought to end up with more than six. This team’s offense is sporadic and the rotation is shaky so that you constantly end up with the bullpen having to go 3 or 4 innings every night, protecting small leads. They are so dependent on Venters and Kimbrel. Let’s face it, the record is built on winning a lot of close games, especially extra-inning games and the bullpen is constantly under pressure. But will this formula work against Milwaukee and/or the Phillies? It’s hard for me to see how the Braves could beat Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and, Boston.

  17. From DOB’s game writeup:

    “Gonzalez had decided to rest setup man Jonny Venters and closer Craig Kimbrel, after Kimbrel had saves in the previous three games …”

    This is factually incorrect. He had saves in the previous two games and “got some work in” in the 9-2 loss against the Nationals. Does DOB run corrections? Because if he did, it would open up a whole new line of questioning for Fredi that apparently wasn’t pursued.

    You can blame Fredi for the loss for having used Kimbrel the other night, blah, blah, blah, but I think this game shows the limitations of the Braves and how dependent they have become on the bullpen.

    I will blame Fredi for using Kimbrel the other night. Thanks! But you’re right: our strategy is too dependent on the bullpen. We don’t have a diverse arsenal in how to beat opponents. No complete games, no blowouts. We moderate our offensive output and are always looking at the seventh inning. It’s been a winning formula for the most part, but it has its limitations and one of them is not using your best pitchers in blowouts to “get them work”.

  18. I think what’s being missed is that we blew a 5 – 0 lead, and NONE of our top 3 relievers got in the game.

  19. Another point is that we tend to badmouth Wins as a pitcher’s statistic, but there is real value to a team when a pitcher can go an extra inning without his best stuff and hold a good lead, even if it means hurting his “important” stats.

  20. I think what’s being missed is that we blew a 5 – 0 lead, and NONE of our top 3 relievers got in the game.

    To be fair, Arodys has been scorching hot since his call up. I think it was entirely reasonable to bring him into the game. The question is what to do once you realize he’s giving the game back to your opponent. He just didn’t have it last night. He was left in way too long and somehow, some way, only four games after an All-Star break layoff, we had already “overused” our best relievers and they weren’t an option.

    That’s an indicator of some kind of problem, folks.

  21. He specifically says “hitting the ball well”

    1) Your quote is incorrect.

    2) Where are your stats to counter mine? Wouldn’t someone who – according to you – “has been striking the ball with much more authority” over “weeks” get more than one friggin’ double in a MONTH?

    3) Thank you for bringing to my attention that not every hard hit ball is a hit. I was not aware of that.

  22. Last night Jason hit the ball three times to second base, struck out once, and hit a fly ball – the nature of which I have no clue about since I was listening on radio.

    Jason may indeed be coming out of his slump, getting his swing together, but last night wouldn’t be the game you’d want to present as evidence for a case that he is.

  23. You can’t judge Heyward over the fact he didn’t hit a two run homer in the 9th inning. He seems to be hitting the ball better; the triple on Thursday night was scorched. But, yes, there is a certain grasping for straws with him. Too bad he isn’t hitting like Mike Stantion.

    Fredi isn’t a genius but the point is the Braves live on a knife’s edge night after night and, at some point, you are going to fall off. At this point, the Braves have a rotation of pretty good pitchers who can generally give you five or six decent innings, but with Hanson out and Jurrjens seemingly injured, who would you trust–other than maybe Hudson–to deliver a big time performance in a playoff game. That means you have to hope to scratch out a few runs–against generally better pitchers–and then hope that Venters and Kimbrel can continue to be otherwordly. Maybe I’m overly pessimistic but I’m skeptical it can work in the playoffs.

  24. If I had a better grasp on how to use baseball-reference, I would love to find the last time a reliever has worked 1 inning or fewer, allowed 5 earned runs or more, and receive a blown save and a loss.

    I mean, that probably happens in blow outs, when a manager just wants to save his bullpen… but the blown save and loss part must make that pretty rare.

    I know that the box score gives Vizcaino the loss there, but that’s only because the pitcher can’t yank his own ass out of the game. I guess giving up 6 consecutive base runners is about as close as he can get.

  25. 55- According to B-R, there have been nine such games this year (blown save, loss, 5+ ER in 1- inning). Ryan Madson did it for Philly just over two weeks ago against Washington. Carlos Marmol has done it twice this year (May 31 vs. Houston, July 14 vs. Florida).

  26. 55- Interestingly, Milwaukee won against the LolMets on June 8 despite a similar outing from Kameron Loe (BSv, .2 IP, 5 R/ER). The Brewers had been ahead 2-1, fell behind 6-2, and came back to win 7-6.

  27. I find it odd the amount of ‘he’s hitting the ball well’ defense Heyward gets. He’s hitting the ball like Jeff Francoeur right now. People who would have been apoplectic about a defense of Francouer based on “he made solid contact” seem to think that’s a perfectly fine defense of Heyward. Because Heyward’s special and stuff.

  28. @61
    That’s just stupid. There are people that actually use their eyes for the purpose of seeing and can see that Jason’s contact has been a lot better of late. He’s hit many balls with authority. Even you mentioned his past BABIP was low because of all the weak hit grounders to 2nd, not actually being unlucky. His BABIP over the last few games has been just as low, but it’s not due to him not making good contact. He actually is unlucky. 2 hard balls last night were caught as well as all of the other weakly hit balls. He went 0 for 5 last night and made really good contact twice, hit the ball weakly twice, and one that was well struck but nothing to write home about.

    On some nights, making good contact twice gets you 2 hits. Some nights, making contact 5 times equates to 5 hits. Last night, Jason went O-5 and looked good doing it.

    And what do you even mean by “hitting the ball like Jeff Francoeur”. Choosing Francoeur as a comparison for Heyward shows your true colors: “I’m here for an argument”. Say I’m wrong…

  29. If Heyward sucks for three years without showing the ability to improve his approach, then people would be irritated at the team’s insistence that he never leave the lineup. Of course, Heyward already has shown more patience and strike zone command than Francoeur ever did, has been benched for a career minor leaguer while Francoeur never was, and has a much higher ceiling than Francoeur ever did, so the comparison, as usual, is specious.

    Also, more importantly, the Braves’ chance of winning a world series hinges in part upon Heyward re-discovering his swing. It therefore makes sense that Braves fans would be squinting hard to see his improvement. Why you, Sam, seem to enjoy schadenfreude whenever he fails, well, that kind of raises some interesting questions.

  30. The Braves ticket ad that typically leads in to the start of the game on radio features the call on Justin Heyward’s first home run. Who is that? Is that Chip Caray? “Welcome to the show!!!”

  31. Moylan’s coming back, bitches. NL hitters had better duck and cover. There’s a nuclear firestorm rolling their direction with an AC/DC soundtrack.

  32. We kind of need a right handed reliever, and somehow Wren managed to add a stud with a career 161 ERA+ after the trading deadline while still having him eligible for the playoffs. The guy’s a genius.

  33. It’s like a switch just flipped at the all-star break, and he’s better than he’s ever been.

    Not trying to be a pedant, but looking at the game logs it actually started a bit before the break, about 6 games before. That’s when his hitting streak started and his numbers began their nonstop march upward.

    Just glad it’s happening. Hope one day we can look back at this period in Uggla’s career like we do Smoltz’s first half in 1991.

  34. BTW: Chipper has now moved past Freddie for second on the team in OPS at .827 going into tonight’s game. That puts him 38 points behind team leader Brian McCann, the best catcher in baseball.

    So, yeah, Chipper is awesome.

  35. Looking forward to seeing the Bulldogs beat Boise State… and then celebrating the win by burning their new, hideous unis right there on the field.

  36. Minor’s pitch count is at 86 in the fifth and he bats second, so here we go again. I wish our team could build up leads early and I wish our starters could go deeper, but it’s just the way of this ballclub to not grant those wishes.

    UPDATE: Well well well, a walk to A-Gon so we get to see Minor bunt.

    UPDATE II: Ugh. Well, at least he didn’t bunt into a double play.

  37. Time to score a run.

    Note to Fredi: Smallball is actually appropriate here. Have at it with impunity.

  38. The underbelly of the pen. Somehow last night’s debacle is going to cost Atlanta tonight as well.

  39. If someone other than Dan Uggla could show up with any offense in the last 14 innings, the underbelly of the ‘pen could give up a run or two and no one would ever notice.

  40. Herb Brooks said something about the name on the front of the jersey being more important than the one on the back.

    If that is the case, then UGA’s priorities are:

    1. Chick Fil-A Kickoff Game
    2. Georgia

  41. Yes, Georgia’s uniforms take college football one step closer to Nascar-dom.

    And tonight’s anemic performance takes me one step closer to believing that the Braves are a mediocrity hiding behind a good record.

  42. Fitting to lose on a bunt and a sac fly, because if Minor could bunt, OR if Prado hit a sac fly, we’d have won. We didn’t even need both. Just one. And we didn’t get either. Again.

  43. the RH relief has gotten better since the departure of Proctor but it has still cost us 2 games in a row.

  44. I mean, we had lots of chances to get the “big hit,” and failed. But as they say, a Hall-of-Famer only gets a hit 30% of the time.

    You need to bunt, and you need to get runners in from third with 1 out. The success rate of those two has to be 60%.

    We couldn’t do either. The Dodgers did both.

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