ESPN Box Score

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.