So… last night the Braves did not lose with dignity. That’s okay, as far as I’m concerned. A loss is a loss, and even though 17-0 is a lot uglier to watch than 2-1, it all looks the same in the record books. Brian McCann hit a two-run homer, which was about the only good thing that happened on the Braves’ end, and Tim Hudson had an Episode, coughing up six runs in the fourth, and that was about it.
The lineup really did nothing. Matt Cain has sucked this year, but the results he got were pretty vintage: he threw a lot of pitches around the strike zone, and the Braves bailed him out by flailing early in counts. Andrelton Simmons grounded out to the left side of the infield four times, two of them on the first pitch. Freddie Freeman flied out once and grounded out three times, two of them on the first pitch. So, you know, guys… don’t do that.
After Tim Hudson got knocked out in the fourth inning, a career journeyman named David Carpenter came in and got the final out of that inning and had a 1-2-3 fifth. But Fredi stayed with him too long, and he gave up a two-run jack in the sixth, which was really the nail in the coffin, despite scoreless mop-up work from Anthony Varvaro and Cory Gearrin. I’m worried that Fredi’s been leaning too heavily on Eric O’Flaherty and Craig Kimbrel, and not giving Varvaro, Gearrin, and Luis Avilan enough to do. Carpenter’s clearly the last man out of the bullpen, but he’s not a longman by trade, and I don’t understand why Fredi wouldn’t bring in Avilan, unless Avilan wasn’t available due to another injury.
Fredi’s bullpen management has always been one of the more worrisome aspects of his managerial style. I’m not really complaining about last night per se; he stayed with Carpenter too long, but most of the time when the other team opens up a 6-0 deficit you lose the game. It’s more that I worry that he’s not spreading the innings around evenly enough, and if he won’t bring in Avilan in a blowout, then when would he bring him in?
One more thing: B.J. Upton obviously isn’t comfortable at the plate. The TV guys were talking about changes that Greg Walker was trying to get him to make to his stance. First, to hold the bat deeper in his hand, more toward the palm than resting it in his fingers, in the hope that that would quiet some of his bat waggle and help him with bat control. Second, to plant his foot firmly on his stride, rather than first bringing down the toes and then the heel; the two-part plant appears to be making his timing late. You could tell that he was trying to do some of these things but he just isn’t feeling it instinctively, and he’s really uncomfortable at the plate. Only way to solve that is time, and time is the one thing that B.J. and the Braves have an awful lot of.
Anyhoo… that’s just one of the 60 games that every team loses. Brush it off. Hopefully the hitters will remember to bring their plate approach to the ballpark this time.
Fredi wasn’t managing last night, but he probably would have stayed with Carpenter too long anyway.
Oops, you’re totally right — I’d forgotten, it was Carlos Tosca.
Hmm… maybe this team really does respond better when it’s Fredi.
Fredi will make sure his daughter tips her graduate cap.
If you’re a ground ball pitcher, sometimes you will just have Episodes. I mean, some of those “hits” weren’t really; not due to poor defense, necessarily, but just because they were placed in perfect spots. It’s frustrating, but it’s life as a groundballer. Last night’s was particularly awful, but I don’t really blame Tim; the only hard-hit ball I remember seeing (stopped watching after the fourth run scored) was Posey’s double.
Things really get harder rather than easier today, with Bumgarner toeing the rubber. If the Braves can salvage a split on Sunday, that will be fine. I do foresee the Nationals passing us this week, and I only hope it isn’t for good.
Re: BJ being uncomfortable. I usually worry when coaches start reworking players swings, because it seems like if there isn’t immediate results, the player might want to just scrap it and get back to struggling-comfortably.
But at least with BJ, from his quotes to the media anyway, he seems to be on board with them. He apparently instigated the makeover, he seems to understand he’s been going backwards, has an idea as to a cause, and has even said “we’re going to stick with it.” So. There’s that.
@5 Uggla having some success with his retooling has got to help him feel like sticking with it will be worth it too.
Wow. Freddie’s the only lefty in the lineup today:
A. Simmons ss
D. Uggla 2b
J. Upton rf
F. Freeman 1b
E. Gattis lf
C. Johnson 3b
B.J. Upton cf
G. Laird c
P. Maholm p
Simmons 6, Uggla 4, Jupton 9, Freeman 3, Gattis 7, CJohnson 5, Bupton 8, Laird 2, Maholm
The Braves will almost certainly finish this road trip in second place. But given how much harder than the Nats their schedule has been that should not be at all surprising.
By the time the Braves get home next week they will have not only played 26 of their first 40 games on the road, but 29 of those 40 games will have been against teams that currently have winning records.
The Natspos will have played 21 of 41 at home, and only 22 of 41 against teams that currently have winning records (with six of the next nine that follow against the wretched Padres and the Phillies). Their schedule never really gets at all tough, but ours is downright easy in July (13 games against the Marlins, Mets and White Sox) and laughably so in September, when we only play three games against teams that currently have a winning record (14 games against the Marlins, Mets, Padres and Cubs, plus 10 more against the Phillies and Brewers). If we can keep it close until Beachy gets back you have to like our chances.
This will be a long afternoon.
Edit: Rather short.
That grounder took like 28 hops. How do you not get an out?
BJ just sucks at baseball.
Freddie’s really good at first base.
Also, in an attempt to get our offense going, I would like to point out that we are being perfect gamed. Does the jinx work if an opponent points this out?
It’s sure as hell worth a try.
That AB by Simmons made three kittens lose the will to live.
Ha! A crappy infield hit ends the stupid perfect game!
Infield single! Infield single!
Oh, good, it worked. Now, let’s take the next step, and score a run.
Attempted jinx: Don’t look now, but we are being shut out!
Infield fly! Uggla pulled off when he heard Justin coming. Where’s Sam Holbrook when you need him?
Amen to that, ‘Rissa. I just tweeted that.
Walk Crawford, we pay. Pitch to him, we pay.
I always forget how much I hate the Giants until we play them.
That’s what happens when you walk people, Paul. Please stop doing it.
Maholm looks like crap.
We need to get at least a run here.
That was some of the worst outfield defense I’ve ever seen.
EDIT: And LOL…it was ruled a double.
Oof. Nice of them to give Gattis a double on that. I’d call it a single and a one-base error. The ball glanced off Peguero’s glove — he nearly whiffed at it — and he probably could have just kept it in front of him and limited the damage.
Hey, Chris, the next time he almost hits you with a pitch, would you mind maybe taking one for the team?
Yea, it’s hard not to give him a hit on that, but a double is generous.
No way B.J. does anything here.
Edit: Well I hoped the reverse jinx would result in a hit, but I’ll take the BB.
Oh my God. Worst Joe Simpson statistical commentary ever… and that’s saying something.
Boy…that was a close one to take. I think BJ just goes up there hoping to walk.
I’m sure that he’s hoping for any kind of good outcome. His first at-bat, he swung through a couple of fastballs that he should have been able to put wood on. He’s just not right at all.
I was about to say we should hit for Paul here, but oh well.
Did NOT see that coming.
Love to see pitchers helping their own cause.
What the crap, Andrelton??????
Andrelton seems in a rush to end this series.
By the way, it’s worth pointing out that Snitker held B.J. Upton at third base on that play, and it was probably the right call. He doesn’t Snitker everybody.
I swear, Andrelton Simmons should get fined $1000 every time he pops out on the first pitch.
WTF. Simmons annoys me, especially at the top of the order.
Simmons, you’re killing me.
Braves pitchers currently lead MLB in collective batting WAR (0.4).
Just for the record, Simpson says (after Chip recounts the fact that Andrelton is, statistically, a double-play-turning stud) “I don’t know how you can make a comparison when you can’t adjust for the situation, where guys were playing, who’s pitching, who’s at the plate.”
As opposed to, say, batting average Joe?
Sweet crap, Justin.
Why does our OF defense suddenly stink on ice?
Heyward makes that play
This is why I question Juptons defensive effort and or skill. Plays just like that.
Ugh. Justin Upton trying to imitate Peguero there.
But seriously, for heaven’s sake, why is that a triple? It should be a single and a two-base error. The fielder clearly, obviously screwed up.
He went hard after it.
@46 Yeah, that was the obvious counter to his entire rant.
I just knew Posey was going to bury us there.
Justin looks like a freaking clown in RF.
Seriously? Justin I wish you could have proven me wrong on that play. Ugh.
Justin should be benched for those two.
@49 Heyward makes that play too.
Like, I REALLY hate the Giants.
Oh, for God’s sake, Justin, that was catchable.
Wasn’t Jupton a RF previously?
How can right field be so much more difficult than left field? Or rather, How can Justin make it look that way?
@52 and that play?
Talk to me more about our great OF defense.
I miss Heyward.
Rumor has it, Justin Upton played nine games a year in San Francisco when he was a Diamondback.
Joe Simpson makes a reasonable point: the shadow off the wall played tricks with Justin’s peripheral vision, making him think the wall was a lot closer than it was.
However: he played right field for the Diamondbacks for years. This isn’t his first trip to AT&T Park. That’s just a terrible play.
It’s not like he gave up on the plays, he just messed up. It has nothing to do with his effort.
And Blanco continues to crush us. I’m tired of this team playing so far below its potential.
Ugly, ugly baseball.
I said “and or effort”. Did I not? Other plays I’ve questioned his effort, those two I question his skill.
Blanco had a flashback and thought he was a Brave again… when he tried to steal third.
We bring him over to play LF. Then, after playing it for three months, we shift him back to right. I don’t expect him to be great out there.
Niether play was easy. Heyward probably makes them.
I give our team MVP a pass.
@58—I hate the Giants too. I couldn’t remember exactly why I loathed them so much, other than they always seem to do this to us, until I heard the words “Barry Bonds” yesterday. Then it all came back to me.
Uggla looks lost.
Well, this game is over.
I don’t like our pitching staff. Wouldn’t mind them calling up one or two of our hard throwing minor league starters. You can’t expect to beat good teams with finesse pitchers.
Sounds like homerism to me. He hasn’t look good in the outfield all season. And he hasn’t been our team MVP for a few weeks now.
Ugh, they all look lost. Napa Valley hangovers are no joke.
I’d like to stay in sole possession of first, so, go Cubs. Although supporting Chicago against Washington is probably like rooting against the arrival of high tide — or for a 10-pitch PA by Simmons.
You must be watching the Mississippi Braves
No, I’m just not a blatant homer. Just because he WAS carrying our team doesn’t mean he’s not open to criticism. Take off the rose colored glasses and get back to me.
I just don’t know what else you want out of him. He has been great. We aren’t even a .500 team without him.
@85 see post #84.
84-Upton misplayed a couple balls in the outfield. So what? He’s still easily the best player on the team. What does that have to do with homerism?
Yeah, I saw it. You’re a bandwagon fan
Forget I ever said anything and lets move on.
Since Justin’s last HR, his OPS is .781. More than a few guys in this lineup would sacrifice a toe for that kind of “slump” to be his own hot streak. He’ll be fine.
Hey Chris, you can’t hit a ball that’s laying on the ground.
Bandwagon fan? Are you kidding me? I’ve been a braves fan since 1990.
I’m a big enough braves fan that my wife suprised me for my birthday last year with a flight to Atlanta to see the Chipper play one last time before he retired. We lived in Minnesota at the time. You sir, are a homer and a moron.
I know I’m repeating myself, but I’m still not convinced that Johnson is any better against lefties than Francisco is.
Guys, be nice.
@91, Exactly. We keep swinging at the 57 foot breaking pitches.
Strasberg gives up 4 runs with “none” earned. Once again he gets hit hard after an error. “Our” Cubs up 8-1. They can still blow it.
BJ wasn’t even trying there. Should have been an infield single.
96-Not just any error, but a Zimmerman throwing error.
Boy when this team is bad they really suck bad …. we will set a Major league record for strikeouts .. its fun watching hitters hit the ball where its pitched .. spraying it around … and Posey may be best hitter in game .. keep throwing hanging curves why dont ya ..
4 hits and 2 walks off Strasberg. 2 of 3 outs were a caught stealing and failed attempt to stretch a double into a triple.
Home game against the mighty cubbies. Schadenfreude.
We got 8 hitters going for the downs ..swinging for fence .. I wouldnt trade Upton back fr Prado but he was our only guy who would hit ball where its pitched …
@98 Zimmerman is broken and cannot be returned. Can he hit well enough to play 1B or DH?
Cubs starting to do their Cub thing.
SIMMONS WHAT IS YOUR FREAKING PROBLEM
Uggla with the sombrero. Simmons looks like Ted Williams in comparison.
104- Agreed, and he’s got lots of company. Maybe Fredi should replace the bats with golf clubs sometime to prove the point.
Sounds like homerism to me. He hasn’t look good in the outfield all season. And he hasn’t been our team MVP for a few weeks now.
Is this an attempt at humor? I hope so. Yes, he has played a poor RF today. But let’s look at the numbers for his career, which are far more telling than whatever a simpleton’s impression is on a game-by-game basis. For his career, Justin Upton is +20 in Defensive Runs Saved in over 6400 innings logged in the outfield; he meanwhile has an 11.8 total UZR and a 2.4 UZR/150. Is he a young Andruw Jones out there? Of course not. Is he pretty good? Yes.
Meanwhile, Justin Upton has compiled a 2.1fWAR in six weeks. That is third in all of MLB among position players. Not only is he the Braves MVP this season; so far, he is probably the National League’s MVP. But hey, I’m a homer. Because I always say complimentary things about Braves players… err, whatever.
Uuuuugh. We suck. Now that the pitching and Justin have normalized, this team just isn’t very good. Or rather, isn’t playing very good.
The difference is that we *expected* Gattis’ LF defense to suck.
See everyone tomorrow. Yuck.
Yeah, at this point this is just a white flag game. I hope Evan learned something, because it sure would be nice to keep his bat in the lineup.
No big deal. We win tomorrow and split a four game series on the road with the best team in the league. Take that every time.
I think the lesson we have learned this weekend is that this team needs Fredi. Two blowouts with him gone…coincidence? I think not.
Scutaro’s having a horrid series defensively, but fortunately with the way the Braves are playing it hasn’t mattered at all.
Well, that’s over. At least the Cubbies are doing their job.
That’s the last time I link to a song from the Lost Boys!
As Iggy once sang, “No fun.”
Let’s get out of NoCal with a split, stomp the Snakes… and GTF home.