Braves 5, Phillies 4

Nine wins in a row. Ho-hum.

The Braves took care of business on Saturday, though they didn’t run away with it the way they did against the Rockies. No matter: it’s always nice beating the Phillies. It’s especially nice when such a beating results in a 9-game winning streak.

Philadelphia jumped all over Brandon Beachy early, scoring an unearned run in the 1st after an Evan Gattis throwing error and 2 more in the 2nd on a John Mayberry home run. But then Beachy settled down. He abandoned his slider, the pitch Mayberry destroyed, and leaned more on his curveball and changeup. The results were – and are – encouraging: only 2 baserunners (both on walks) over the next 4 innings. Beachy got into some trouble in the 7th, but we’ll get to that.

Before we do, I should mention that the Braves scored some runs too. Justin Upton took John Lannan deep in the 3rd inning – he has been destroying lefties all year, and Lannan is one of those – cutting the lead to 3-1. Atlanta then took the lead in the 5th inning. That frame witnessed Freddie Freeman drive in 2 with a base-loaded single and Evan Gattis drive in another on an “excuse me” check swing groundout to 2nd. These shenanigans gave the Braves a 4-3 lead and, to boot, chased Lannan.

But then, hibernation mode. Yeah, there’s a 9-game winning streak going on, so it’s hard to split hairs here… but come on now, fellas: the Phillies bullpen is horrendous. Like, -0.6 fWAR horrendous (2nd-worst in the league, behind only Houston). But crap bullpen or not, the Braves’ bats fell silent. Zach Miner, who hadn’t thrown a major league pitch since 2009, threw 2.2 shutout innings. Luis Garcia, Antonio BastardoJonathan Papelbon: all of them also threw scoreless frames.

And that was a problem only because the Phillies managed to tie the game in the 7th inning. Fredi let Beachy start the inning, presumably with the desire of stretching him out to 100 pitches. Beachy, however, gave up a single to Mayberry; Carlos Ruiz promptly sacrificed the latter to 2nd; and Fredi went to the pen anyway. Luis Ayala, who is decent at getting righties out, got right-handed Kevin Frandsen to groundout, but then he surrendered the game-tying hit to left-handed hitting Jimmy Rollins.

Still, the Braves won the game anyway. I’d be lying if I denied that fortune wasn’t on their side. Twice Philadelphia batters took a Braves pitcher to the back of the warning track, yet sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. Those two well-hit balls turned into noisy outs. Atlanta meanwhile scored on three walks and an errant throw to 1st in the 12th inning – a potential inning-ending GIDP that Paul Janish helped break up at 2nd and Dan Uggla hustled down the line to beat. JUpton scored, Craig Kimbrel shut ’em down in the bottom of the 12th, and the Braves were finally winners.

The Nats also won, but that hardly matters. The division lead is still 11.5 games. The Braves have also taken the series from the Phillies, which is a good thing because Cliff Lee awaits tomorrow night. Whatever happens in that game, now, Atlanta will take a double-digit lead into Washington. I’d say this is getting boring, but winning never bores me: let’s keep doing it.

25 thoughts on “Braves 5, Phillies 4”

  1. I love the winning streak & all and I don’t wanna sound like I’m hedging my bets, but I’ll be happy with a winning road trip against these 2 clubs.

  2. Nice recap, but one correction: Rollins is a switch-hitter, not a left-handed hitter.

  3. @3 – but he was hitting left-handed at the time.

    Very questionable decision to keep Beachy out there in the seventh, even before the base hit. But a win’s a win, I guess. That was a Coxian decision, though, and that scares me when a game’s importance increases in a five-or-seven game series.

    Can’t wait for a writer to say something like, “if you take out their 12-1 start, an eight-game win streak in May, and their current nine game win streak, the Braves would be 37-44.”

  4. Braves have had three 8+ game win streaks this season and no losing streak longer than three. And we still have one starter who hasn’t gone on a tear yet. Feeling quite good about things, for lots of reasons. Yes, a dominating starter can get our guys. But he’d better throw a CG, and you’d better have two more behind him in a playoff series. The bench and the bullpen have both been outrageous this year, and I think a lot of “writer” don’t consider that.

  5. That was a Coxian decision, though, and that scares me when a game’s importance increases in a five-or-seven game series.

    There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Fredi will stick with a struggling starter too long in high leverage games like the playoffs. Certainly his decision to try and stretch Beachy out a little, with a 11.5 game lead, isn’t such evidence. If anything, that decision is evidence that Fredi wants to save his bullpen some work down the stretch and have them as fresh as possible for when the games come back to do-or-die, must-wins.

  6. @8 Yes. I think he was managing as if the team has an 11-game lead, and trying to stretch out Beachy. They were probably going to let Beachy throw between 95 and 100 pitches no matter what, results be damned. I don’t really have a problem with that. Beachy may well play an important role for the team in the postseason.

  7. If nothing else, Beachy will help the team in the playoffs if he can go 6 or 7 innings from now until then, during his starts. The two things this team needs down the stretch is 1) BJ Upton to get his shit together at the ML level and 2) the starters other than Minor and Teheran to go 6+ innings and not stress the bullpen to the point of breaking.

  8. I’m not going to say it’s evidence of how he’ll act in the playoffs.

    But I will say that it’s stupid to send your starter out, in a game that you’re winning, to begin an inning that you know you’ll pull him from at the first sign of trouble.

    If you’ve got guys warming, that’s an indication that you have doubts about this guy’s ability to get through the inning.

    It’s a case of over-valuing the positive outcomes and under-valuing the negatives. And that’s fine for sportswriters or fans. But the professional on the field should have a more level head than that.

    Positive outcome: One more scoreless inning from the starter, now you only need two innings out of your bullpen instead of 3.

    Negative outcome: Beachy blows the lead and you lose the game, or, go extra innings and require an unknowable number of innings from your bullpen.

    One more inning out of the starter, when you’re winning by 1 and have already gotten 6 out of him, isn’t likely to ever be worth losing the game or going extras. It just isn’t.

    I mean, if you’ve got Justin Verlander out there, or a guys throwing a no-hitter, or you happen to have a really bad bullpen. Or it’s the 4th inning or the guy has thrown 68 pitches or something.

    But we’ve got a good bullpen, it hasn’t been overtaxed lately, and despite cruising late, Beachy had thrown a ton of pitches early, and 92 pitches in 6 innings isn’t a clear cut case of “we need to get more out of him.”

    He wanted an inning, would have settled for an out or two, and it instead of asking his bullpen for 3 innings, he had to ask them for 6.

    That’s what you get. Now don’t do that anymore.

  9. Beachy was better yesterday than he was a week ago. Coming back from Tommy John isn’t a sure thing, and getting back to your old self isn’t a linear progression, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

    Also, we keep winning, so that’s always nice.

  10. @8 – I agree that there’s no evidence right now that Gonzalez will make the same decision in a playoff game, but my issue with Fredi is deeper than one game. I have noticed that regardless of the starter (young, old, or awful – hi Maholm), Fredi likes to go with them until they get in trouble while taking precautions for the upcoming trouble. On one side, you can say he is trying to save a pen, but the problem with that theory is he starts the inning with at least one arm warming up and often, two (one lefty, one righty). True, warm-ups aren’t the same as game action, but it does wear a pitcher down over a course of a season. It also says, at least to me, that he doesn’t have confidence in the pitcher on the mound, but is afraid to make the wrong decision.

    Yesterday’s example was more par for the course. Already had six innings and 90+ pitches (correct me if I’m wrong) from Beachy and warming up Downs and Ayala in the pen to start the seventh. I find the decision-making to be gutless. He is waiting for Beachy to put a baserunner on or give up a homer before making a decision in the seventh. When in doubt, he plays “trust the player.”

    But again, my feeling is less based on yesterday and more on a theme with Gonzalez. He seems incapable of making smart decisions during close games.

  11. The error made both @11 and @13 is in thinking the only consideration in play is the +/- on winning that single game. With an 11.5 game lead you try to stretch out your starter a little. Test him. Let him pitch. Show him you have confidence in him. Manage your people rather than the game.

    I know. We don’t like that. But we seem to like how ppl managers help the braves clubhouse work well.

    You don’t always play the tactical percentages. Of you did Mike Minor would still be a five inning pitcher.

  12. Not really. You don’t push a guy just to push him. You consider how many pitches he’s thrown, his velocity, what he has done recently, and so on. Those considerations were clearly made since Gonzalez warmed up two pitchers while sending out Beachy. You can push a guy with a three-to-five run lead. Not so much with a one-run lead. And how much confidence are you showing in a guy by throwing him out there with two in the pen? It seems like you don’t have confidence he can complete the inning.

    For the record, the name of the game is winning. Every win is important. A division-lead is great, but it wasn’t that long ago when the Braves were in August and “in the playoffs” only to collapse. Beyond the hysterics, the Braves could use home field advantage. They have been kind pretty good at home.

  13. With Sam on this one. You’re acting like leaving Beachy in for too long is like Grady Little/Pedro Martinez Part 2. There’s a big picture about allowing your starter to stretch out and gain confidence. The game, even if it was in doubt, was not so in doubt that it wasn’t worth the gain of letting Beachy continuing to pitch. I’m very confident that Fredi wouldn’t do that with a starter 7 innings removed from TJ in the playoffs.

    On a side note, I wonder how many fan bases actually think that their manager is a good in-game manager. It seems like one of those things where the tactical backfires are magnified over the day-in, day-out, non-sexy in-game managerial decisions that go unnoticed. The lefty-right matchups, the strategic uses of the backup catcher, the lineup construction, which reliever to use when, etc. seems to go unnoticed, but leaving a starter in 4 pitches too long is blown up.

    Ah, the things we talk about during a 9 game winning streak.

  14. Hey Tommy, I’m not sure from your vantage point behind your keyboard that you’re qualified to determine when a starter is to be pushed or not. You don’t have access to the training staff, the medical reports, and the injury statuses of the relievers and current starter. You probably also haven’t printed out and placed next to you the scouting reports on the hitters due up, and how they do against the relievers. I think I’ll defer to the gentleman who has all that info at his disposal, instead of just the scoreboard. Why don’t you let the guy with the information do his job and you be the guy to celebrate the W?

  15. He wanted to save an inning and it cost him 3. It was dumb.

    You already got 6 innings and 92 pitches out of him. You’re acting like we wanted him pinch hit for in the top of the fifth.

    And right on cue we come with the inflammatory appeals to authority and insulting insinuations, because no one can have a disagreement around here anymore and still play like big boys.

  16. I’m for winning the most games in the league so we can have HFA all the way through. I can sympathize with management’s desire to keep Beachy on the kind of regimen he would have been on if Huddy’s injury hadn’t expedited his trip back to the majors, but I agree with Tommy and jjschiller that last night’s game wasn’t a time for finessing the outcome. We had a game to win, Beachy had already topped 90 pitches. Why risk the outcome that put our bullpen through extras and almost lost it for us? Not worth it.

  17. Speaking only for myself, I think I’ll focus on the fact that Beachy’s numbers for yesterday’s game look quite a bit better than those he posted in his first start. What I want to see from him is steady improvement. He showed that, and I think he and we have every reason to be encouraged.

    Just to prepare everyone: we will lose another game this season. Possibly more than one. Brace yourselves. :-)

  18. At Citifield for Mets/Royals and the Mets have already lost 3 fly balls in the sun. Two in the same inning (Marlon Byrd) and two wild pitches leading to 3 runs in the inning so far. #lolmets

  19. This will be my last comment on this sub-thread: I realize you guys want to nitpick everything Fredi does and second guess him. It’s your default setting. That’s fine. I disagree. I am 100% perfectly fine with how yesterday’s game played out. He let his starter, who he needs down the stretch, go out there and try to win a ball game. He let his players play. He had his secondary relievers up and warming in case he needed them, and he went to them before the game was lost.

    I don’t think I’ll convince anyone of this who hasn’t already sort of bought into my side of this ever-going debate, and I’m not going to waste time arguing points with you guys, because you have no desire to see past your own certainty on the issue.

    I not only accept the decision to try to stretch Beachy out a little – as if 90 pitches is a real benchmark for a Major League starter! – I would have done it myself, every time. Every, single time. Send your players out to play. Maybe that calculus changes if the lead is less than double digits. But with 11.5 in your pocket, let Brandon Beachy remember how to dominate hitters at the Major League level if he can.

  20. totally with sam on this issue.
    lets get another win tonight boys.

    winning streaks are fun.

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