Braves 4, A’s 3

That was a lot of fun. In the oldest of old throwback uniforms, the Braves hand the A’s their 4th straight loss.
Tonite’s game was a tribute to the 100th anniversary of the World Series between the Athletics and the Braves. Interestingly, the A’s have been around since 1901 and the Braves since 1871. Aren’t we the oldest MLB Franchise??

Thankfully none of our announcers are quite that old…

Julio Teheran vs. Sonny Gray. Both pitchers having lost their last 3 in a row desperately needed a win.
Teheran is the one who got it. He looked good going 6 innings, 2 earned runs, 3 BB.
Sonny Gray had a so-so start giving up 4 runs in 5 1/3 innings and dropped to 12-7 on the season.

In the first inning the Braves put the first run on the board when Phil Gosselin, starting at 2nd, singled and then scored when Freddie Freeman doubled to right, his 35th of the year and got his 68th RBI. Freddie has 17 hits in his last 34 at bats and 7 for his last 12. Chris Johnson then singled to center, scoring Freeman. Chris had a big night going 3 for 4 with 2 RBIs (51).

In the bottom of the fourth, the Braves tacked on their third run when Justin Upton singled and took second on a wild pitch by Sonny Gray. Chris Johnson singled to right, sending Jupton to third. Andrelton then singled scoring Jupton. This was a beautiful piece of situational hitting by Andrelton who sort-of lunged to put his bat on a low pitch and plunked the ball into left. Andrelton had 2 hits on the night, but perhaps his best play was a double-play breakup with a hard slide into second. If not for Andrelton’s heads up base-running, this would have been another GIDP for BJ. At this point, Julio has established command of the game. He looked great.

The final Braves run came in the 6th when Justin walked and scored on a long single by Chris Johnson. CJ went to second on another wild pitch by Gray. Andrelton singled, Johnson went to third, but alas….BJ put an end to the rally with a GIDP.

It was good to see David Carpenter come on in the 7th. He pitched a perfect inning throwing 7 strikes out of 10 pitches. Way to go David! Jordan Walden came on in the 8th and gave up a home run and a walk, but the damage was only one run.
Craig Kimbrel relieved Walden and got the save, his 36th.

Side note: I loved watching Julio pick off Loganville native Josh Reddick after multiple close calls. He has 3 in his last 15 innings. Mark Bowman tweets that other than Madison Bumgarner no other MLB pitcher has more than 6.

Oakland scored two in the sixth with a Brandon Moss walk and a Stephen Vogt homer to centerfield. They scored their third and final run when catcher John Jaso homered off Jordan Walden in the 8th.

Jason Heyward batting leadoff went 0 for 4. Evan Gattis was 0 for 4. BJ Upton batting 8th, was 0 for 3, with a ground out to the short stop, a fielder’s choice grounder to the 2nd baseman (could have been a double play) and then a ground into a double play in the 6th ending our scoring for the night.

We are now 6 back of the Nats, but just 2 out of the WC.

123 thoughts on “Braves 4, A’s 3”

  1. Prior to injury, Evan was developing some good habits at the plate. Those good habits seem gone as he’s swinging at everything.

    Does anyone else think Ramiro Pena’s job is in jeopardy? Seems redundant to have Boni, Gosselin, and Pena especially since the first 2 can do all of Pena’s jobs just as well and provide offensive value. The Braves could fill Pena’s spot with a pure bat.

  2. Only two weeks until rosters expand, so I think his spot is safe for the rest of the season. The left-handed power stroke he flashed last year has turned up missing, though, so he’s eminently replaceable.

  3. Any ideas of what the lineup will look like tonight?

    I’m guessing Gattis will have the night off. I’d say with it being a tough lefty we maximize the lineup for a Sunday just to get an idea on a few things.

    Bonifacio CF
    Gosselin LF
    Freeman 1st
    J. Upton RF
    Johnson 3rd
    La Stella 2nd
    Simmons SS
    Laird C
    Minor P

    This way we get to see Gosselin in the OF and see if those minor league splits against lefties translate into the big leagues. Heyward gets a day off against a really tough lefty. Gattis gets to rest. Plus, Minor is starting, so there are two scenarios. We get the really good Minor that only needs minimal run support which has been rare this year. Or the more likely, we get the Minor that gives up way to many runs that even all our starters being in the game can’t save us. Either way, some of our guys get rest, and we get to see what Gosselin looks like in the OF.

  4. There’s no doubt we SHOULD see Bonifacio in CF. While I’d be fine with the lineup you made out, I don’t foresee the Braves moving JUp to RF and putting Gosselin in LF. If I were a betting man, Gosselin is either in La Stella’s spot, or on the bench.

  5. The reason I went with it that way is because of how bad Heyward is against Lefties and a day off wouldn’t be all that bad for him here. Also, we really need to see if Gosselin can play OF. I think this will be important as the season progresses. Also, La Stella has hit .340 against lefties so far this season, so you would not want to sit him here.

    I imagine our lineup to be somewhat better the remainder of the season on a dialy basis for two reasons. Bonifacio and Gosselin being those reasons. I assume that Bonifacio will be our OF platoon guy for whoever is sitting with Gosselin filling that role for IF. The real beauty would be if one of those two guys takes a step ahead of the other and could fill the full time platoon lead for both IF and OF. We would finally have our Prado back.

    Personally, I hope it is Gosselin who takes the lead for a couple reasons. We have control of him for several years to come, and he is a much more stable glove in the IF. If he can pull off LF, we are set for years to come with a stable sub player as long as he shows that he can continue to hit in the majors. At this time, it is to soon to tell. I am not completely sold on Gosselin but have liked what I have seen so far. We will just have to wait and see.

  6. Braves apparently signed Donnie Murphy to a minor league deal.

    Remember La Stella tweaking his hamstring the other day? I’m guessing it’s still grabbing a bit.

  7. I wouldn’t read to much into the Donnie Murphy signing. It is that time of the year when teams expand their rosters, so we will probably start seeing a lot of teams pick up players that might add to their teams. Especially if they are questioning changing up a few bench areas heading into the post season. Murphy has some value in that he can play any IF position. It really isn’t to bad of a signing. Very low risk with some potential reward.

    Perhaps, he might be there to push Pena on the bench.

  8. Freeman is being an annoying sourpuss about the organ music last night:

    He should probably stuff it. What, he can’t go one day without the stadium alternating between blaring equally crappy country and hip-hop?

  9. “There is nothing on the Jumbotron…there are no flames.”

    Existential horror in the 21st century.

  10. Bonifacio not in the lineup against a left-hander for some reason. BJ is, though. And Heyward is leading off, even though he can’t left-handers. At least it’s not BJ, I guess.

  11. The organ might be nice for a lot of us older folks but for the younger ones it is a drag, and they are the ones that normally provide the energy at the games. However we are undefeated with just the organ keep organing on

  12. Sorry, Salty:

    Blank Bear
    Mikey Major

  13. I’m just over 30, so I’m still in the target demographic, and I have bad news for Freddie. If I have a choice between everything about last night’s game (complete with dollar hot dogs and no crappy music) or everything about a standard game (complete with $6 hot dogs and crappy music)…well, let’s just say he’d never hear his bullshit walk-up song over the stadium loudspeaker ever again.

  14. If everyone is healthy and you want to maximize a lineup against a tough left hander, it would go as follows:

    Bonifacio CF – .985 OPS vs LH
    Gosselin LF – 1.072 vs LH in the minors
    Freeman 1st – .804 OPS vs LH
    J. Upton RF – 1.039 OPS vs LH
    Johnson 3rd – 1.068 vs LH
    Gattis C – 1.195 vs LH
    La Stella 2nd – .898 vs LH
    Simmons SS – .732 vs LH
    Minor P

    With those type of OPS numbers, even Mike Minor stands a chance at getting the win. It takes 5 minutes of looking at the player’s splits on the season against left handers to put that lineup together. This is utter crap. I don’t blame coaches for losing when players are not playing up to potential, but Fredi has solid numbers for these players this season against left handed pitching.

    He has no argument that B.J. can outhit Bonifacio against left handers. Shoot, I’ll even take starting Heyward in RF and leaving J. Upton in LF as long as Bonifacio is in the lineup in CF. Also, La Stella has to be hurt to be out of the lineup 2 days in a row. And no, it is not because it is a left handed pitcher. He is hitting .340 against left handers so far.

    Rant over. Well, maybe not, but for now, it is.

  15. Yeah last night I wondered about Gosselin playing in front of La Stella. That’s what, coupled with signing Donnie Murphy, made me think La Stella might be hurt. La Stella’s got bad numbers for August, but it’s really only the last 5 games. I don’t think a rookie with like a .340 OBP would lose his job over 5 bad games, just because something called a Gosselin hit a homerun the day before.

  16. @21

    I am trying to find anything online that mentions an injury, but so far, nothing has come up other than getting pulled from the game the other night. I think it is crazy for him to be out of the lineup if he is not hurt. There really is no reason to cover up if he is hurt.

    To be honest, the La Stella issue isn’t the one that is bothering me though. I am fine with Bonifacio not touching the field against right handed pitchers, but he has been crushing left handers this season. B.J. has been downright dreadful against lefties. I do not understand the argument.

    If this is an issue of upper management telling Fredi he has to play B.J. no matter what. I am saving my career if I am Fredi and being like, “I am being forced to play B.J.” straight up to the press. He might get fired, but at least, he wouldn’t look like an idiot to any future potential employers for starting a guy who is so terrible when he has a perfectly good alternative on the bench against left handed pitching.

  17. You know what Fredi’s issue is. He buys into the old notion that RH hitters hit LH pitching and vice versa. He even thinks the same when it comes to LH pitchers own LH hitters and vice versa with his bullpen.

    He tried that junk with Russell out of the bullpen when we first got him. How about you look at some season splits there Fredi. Russell for some odd reason this year has owned RH batters but has been destroyed by LH batters.

  18. 23: The issue is, the “odd reason” is probably random variation with zero predictive value. I am never going to bash a manager for using left-handed relief pitchers against left-handed batters.

    The La Stella thing is what’s bugging me. I mean, yes, BJ is a black hole, but we know why they’re playing him… they’ve got too much invested to just give up on him less than two years into the contract. I just don’t even understand the mindset behind La Stella not playing, and we haven’t heard any explanation from Fredi.

  19. Not that it’s the most important thing, but his OBP is .322 against lefties.

    He can’t hit them though

  20. @25 I agree with the La Stella thing. I mean, I like Gosselin and I want him playing, especially while he seems to be hot. But playing him at the expense of Tommy is crazy. This team has a lot of problems, but La Stella is not one of them.

  21. @25 – La Stella is probably just hurt, probably day-to-day, and I imagine that it’s just now become newsworthy enough that the reporters are going to ask/write about it.

    The first half of your comment reflects, to me, a shortcoming of pure statistical analysis. Not trying to jump up and down on you here, but it’s a pet peeve for me that often gets ignored.

    With phrases like “random variation” the assumption is that a player is the same player every day, every year. But on the ground, there are reasons a pitcher can stop being effective against a certain handedness. He could be flying open, he could have lowered his arm slot. Either of those could be due to injury; back, hip, shoulder. Either of those could effect his ability to hide the ball, or effect the movement on a breaking ball or changeup. Perhaps he’s lost feel for a certain pitch that he counts on against lefties. Perhaps he fussed around and started throwing across his body, to help him get righties but it’s hurting him against lefties.

    The point is, yes, it could be random variation. But you can’t just keep running him out there and expect that over three-seasons worth of innings, it’ll work itself out. The Braves, I’m SURE, have people watching video and diagnosing and have an idea. They aren’t saying it to the media, sure, that’s not really their job. But in my opinion, it’s a virtual guarantee that Russell is doing something different, and the Braves are working on getting it straightened out.

  22. 28: So yes, guys can get in a rut where they are really just doing something wrong, and it shows up in their results. But I must vigorously part company here:

    But in my opinion, it’s a virtual guarantee that Russell is doing something different

    Because no, all you have is the results to support this, and statistical analysis tells you beyond peradventure that the results of 81 batters faced don’t mean shit. If you had an actual diagnosis based on observation, that would be one thing, but you don’t–you just have a “sometimes there’s a real problem, therefore in this case there is a real problem.” Nonsense.

  23. @28 Both Tommy and Fredi said tonight that Tommy is not hurt. Fredi said he is just playing the hot hand. Unless it would benefit the team to hide a La Stella injury (which I can’t see why it would), he is getting benched in favor of Gosselin.

  24. @30

    So, what exactly has he been doing with B.J. the entire season. He surely is not playing the hot hand there. Also, La Stella has had a few slow games. He is by no means in a slump. His drastic average drop is due to still not having a ton of at bats. He could have a 3/4 game and be back in the .280s. Sometimes it is just so easy to get annoyed with the way things are handled with this team. To be honest, it isn’t even the riding the hot hand comment that is annoying. I’m okay with it, but what is the excuse with B.J. Tell me a legit reason for the one Fredi.

  25. I’m telling you my opinion. I don’t have the video library that the Braves have. For what it’s worth, a Braves source told Rosenthal at the time of the deal that they weren’t concerned about the splits, that they were confident it could be fixed. That may not be worth anything at all.

    “It’s probably just random variation,” ignores a world of possibilities and is just as unprovable as my position. But when you see that lefties hit below league average against left handed pitching, and lefties used to hit below league average against Russell, and now lefties hit him better than league average, that’s a severe “variation.” Coupled with the fact that he’s shutting down righties to a degree he’s never done before, there’s evidence enough for me to postulate that he’s doing something different.

  26. Freddie should bunt down the 3rd base line every time he comes up and they have that very exaggerated shift on him. Even the SS was over near 2nd base. He could jog to first if he gets a good bunt down, and he has the bat control to do it. Drop the ego and get the bunt down. Get on for J. Upton and Gattis.

  27. To expand upon my thought: It doesn’t become a diagnosable “problem” only after he’s got 300 batters faced of lousy numbers. If he puts up lousy numbers that long, he had a problem for all 300 batters faced, even the first 80. And if the lousy numbers stop after 80, we can’t say “see, it was just random variation.”

    The guys over at Talking Chop are a perfect example. They wrote a couple times about how there was nothing wrong with Mike Minor, he’s just been more homer-prone. It’s going to regress to the mean.

    Until it went on long enough, and then they wrote “Something’s wrong with Mike Minor. Here’s a mechanical analysis.”

    It isn’t a problem now. It was a problem THEN, too. You just weren’t looking into it yet because… sample size, I guess.

    All of which is irrelevant, as none of you, I, or the Talking Chop guys are tasked with helping the players play better. But it’s the way that some smart people write about statistics that allows lazy people to just shout “You’ve never played the game!”

    I just find fault with the logic that what we can’t prove isn’t there, especially when the problem with the proof is that there isn’t a big enough sample. The problem doesn’t show up with a big enough sample, only the proof.

  28. 34: If all a team had to do to take Freeman’s .200 ISO off the table is send the shortstop to the right side of second base, they would generally be happy to do it. Particularly since he can’t run, and so would get thrown out on most of these “free hits.”

  29. @34 – The problem with “just bunt” is that you will bunt and miss, you will bunt foul, and you will pop up bunts. Bunts are not automatic, like an intentional walk. They may be easier to execute than hitting away, but it’s not all upside. You can still fail at it, as our team proves constantly.

  30. @36

    Freeman handles the bat well. He leads our team in runs scored this season because he is not an idiot on the base paths. The exaggerated shift the A’s are running against him right now have even the SS basically playing over 2nd base. It would be more beneficial for him to be on. Yes, he is slow, but you can’t score runs without baserunners, and they are basically daring Freddie to bunt.

    The A’s did the same thing to David Ortiz earlier this season, and he bunted for two hits in one game. The shift got noticeably less exaggerated and opened up the field for him to freely swing the remainder of the series.

    I take Freddie in a foot race against Ortiz any day of the week.

  31. I do not mind the idea of Freddie at least showing bunt a couple times to at least make the A’s consider it as a possibility. In the end, I still want Freddie swinging for the most part. There are good and bad to both ways of going about it I guess.

  32. Freddie doesn’t lead the team in runs because he’s a good baserunner. He leads the team in runs because he’s hit 3rd all year, with Justin Upton and Evan Gattis behind him (and Jason Heyward for a period.) The people hitting in front of Freddie, have either been lousy (BJ Upton, Andrelton Simmons) and thus not on base, or haven’t hit there all year (Jason Heyward, Tommy La Stella.) Justin and Evan haven’t scored as many as they have, because they only have 1 or 0 good hitters behind them, and Freddie has consistently had 2 good hitters immediately behind him.

  33. I love the argument going on about Freeman’s baserunning. Have we really come to this?

    We all have to admit that it would be pretty entertaining to watch Freeman drop down a bunt and try to beat it out to first though, right? LOL

  34. @40

    I, like JJ, am wondering what the A’s could possibly have been arguing about on that play. It’s crystal clear in the rulebook that he gets third base on that play. Maybe Lester’s having a tough time letting go of being able to complain after every single pitch since he’s not on the Red Sox anymore.

  35. So, if Gosselin continues to hit the way he is would anybody argue against a lineup of

    Heyward CF
    Gosselin LF
    Freeman 1st
    J. Upton RF
    Johnson 3rd
    Gattis C
    La Stella 2nd
    Simmons SS

    for the rest of the season. If Gattis can get put out in LF, I see no reason why we can’t have Gosselin out there. This leaves Bonifacio to play anywhere he is needed on days people are out of the lineup and puts B.J. in the old Schafer pinch runner role.

    To be honest, I do not care where they bat in the lineup. It just looks nice to have B.J.’s name out of the starting lineup.

  36. @46 – You always see that play when they are trying to retire the batter-runner, and when the ball leaves the field, he’s granted second. So you might think “safe at first, and you give him an extra base.” But the rule actually applies as, he hasn’t achieved first yet, so two bases means first, and second. Having already achieved first base, obviously, you should get second and third.

    But the fact that even the manager had to come out and get clarification is baffling.

  37. @48

    Yeah, I considered that, too. The only reason I opted not to is the fact that it would put three lefties all up top even though La Stella and Freeman hit lefties okay. Plus, I love La Stella lower in the order. He has done so much damage batting 7th this year that I couldn’t resist it.

    As stated though, it just looks so nice not to have B.J.’s name in the starting lineup.

  38. I’m sure there’s a way to view this, but when we say Freddie or La Stella “hit lefties well,” do we know that they hit lefty relievers well? Because that’s a different thing, and that’s why you want to split up your lefties: You don’t want the opposing manager to get 2-for-1 on his lefty specialist, without getting yourself a matchup in your favor, like letting Justin Upton get a shot at him.

  39. @53 – Well since that other guy used to flip them the bird when they gave him an error, maybe they don’t want to sour the relationship.

  40. I think skipping that start for Minor did him a world of good. He’s still not his old self, but he definitely looks a lot more confident out there.

  41. The ESPN crew had a good breakdown there of Heyward’s weird last-second hand movements. I have no idea why none of our home announcers have mentioned it this year. Until he fixes that he’s going to have no power at all.

  42. When u fall behind 3-0 bad things happen. Not throwing strikes and it is time to get the pen hopping

  43. I miss the days where our starters were out of the game after 6 innings, and we could turn it over to our stellar 7th, 8th, and 9th inning guys. Basically, we had a win if we had the lead after 6. Ah, memories.

    Considering the 2 HRs, this was a very good start for Minor. I will take that anytime.

  44. Fine, let me rephrase: Is there a reason we didn’t have people warming up behind him to start the inning just in case he was tired after 95-ish pitches?

    Whew…lucky to get out of that with the lead, but we did it.

  45. Not certain that Kimbrel’s available. Fredi might have felt the need to stretch Mike so he’d only need 2 relievers.

    Of course, this sets up a blown lead going extras and emptying the whole pen.

  46. Yeah, that was a great night from Minor. It’s good to see…and I’m glad we scored four runs off Lester. Come on, bullpen, let’s party (or pitch) like it’s 2012 again.

  47. The time for saying Kimbrel is unavailable are over. If it is a save opportunity, he needs to be out there. He is a closer and that is what closers do. He has had so many long stretches this year where he has gone 3 or so games without pitching then comes in all rusty. If you are going to do that, then at least pitch him in the situations he is paid for.

  48. Is it bad that Simmons’ swing looked better when his ankle was really bothering him? Seriously, it kept the guy from swinging out of his shoes. He looked so much better when he was controlled with his swing. Quick, somebody go hit him in the ankle with a bat.

  49. Does anyone know why ESPN doesn’t use the regular Turner Field camera well in center field? I feel all out of whack watching these Sunday night broadcasts.

  50. I thought Craig had pitched the first game of this series, making tonight a third straight appearance. I was wrong.

    That said, 3 straight games you may see, but not consistently. You aren’t going to see anybody throw 4 straight games, no matter how tough the fans at home are.

  51. This games encapsulates the season right now: get Mike Minor and Evan Gattis back to their normal selves, and Chris Johnson reasonably productive, and the Braves can get rolling again.

  52. @61 Further to the point, Kruk said that Walker has been trying to get Heyward to stop doing it. Echoes that aritcle by Mike Schmidt posted here a while back.

  53. @74

    The ironic thing is that the “Dead Center” camera angle was an ESPN idea 14 years ago.

  54. It’s a good thing CJ hit that homer last inning. We’re gonna try and get through an inning with Varvaro and maybe Avilan here.

  55. BJ brings nothing to the table that helps this team. To keep playiing him to appease his brother is just ridiculous

  56. Russell should’ve been pitching this whole inning in the first place, as far as I’m concerned.

  57. To paraphrase Kevin Bacon’s character in Apollo 13, getting through an inning with our middle relief is like trying to drive a toaster through a car wash.

  58. I remember a time when the Braves had the most dominant left-handed relief corps in baseball. You can’t expect it, but it would be great to get Venters back for the stretch run… if he has anything left.

  59. @99

    Part of that Left handed relief is on the mound right now for the A’s.

    I really wish we still had him.

  60. It hurts me to know that EOF is pitching for $3.5M a year while we have James Russell and Luis Avilan as our lefty “specialists”.

  61. Well, Freddie Freeman’s existential nightmare is over. He has his flames and the real version of “Welcome to the Jungle” back.

  62. Boy did we pick the wrong horse between Venters and EOF. I know EOF was an FA and Venters was an Arb guy. But $1.5m for Venters of $3.5m for EOF is such an easy decision, in hindsight.

  63. Especially when Jonny was “Everyday Jonny” and led the league in appearances two years in a row. His arm is the equivalent of Jack Black’s in The Jackal. Ewww, gross.

  64. Alright. Time to visit our fellow sort-of-contenders and find out how many extra games to prepare for in October.

  65. This wildcard stuff is going to be tough, because someone is winning every night. You want to watch to see if the Pirates lose, but if they do, the Cardinals or Giants just become the team to catch.

  66. The teams with the 5 best records in baseball are, in order:

    1. The The Angels Angels of Anaheim
    2. Oakland
    3. Baltimore
    4. Natspos
    5. Milwaukee

    We haven’t played Baltimore. Against the other four we’re 19-7.

    It’s the next tier down (of teams we’ve played) we’ve been bad against. Against the Dodgers, Seattle, the Cardinals, and San Francisco, our record is 4-19.

  67. At this point, if we have a good last 40 games, I’d say we’re fairly likely to make the wild card game. Just gotta take care of our part.

  68. Yohan Flande started today for the Rockies.

    Flande or Minor. Minor or Flande. Flande or Minor. Minor or Flande.

  69. @114: FWIW, Fangraphs gives the Braves a 35% chance of winning the wildcard–a touch higher than the Pirates, but still lower than STL and SF.

  70. Freeman leads off an inning with a solid single to the outfield. Everybody cheers as he stands on first base.

    No difference in the result if he bunts. One advantage is that if he did it often enough, opponents might opt to play straight-up defense.

    Sure, he’d need to put some more work in mastering the bunt (he’s got good bat control as it is), but the Braves have needed more baserunners all year. Might as well take the free gift.

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