Braves Most Comebackiest Game of the Year

Julio Teheran just did not have it. Kicking off the final homestand at Turner Field against the Phillies, he surrendered a first inning grand slam to Ryan Howard (yes, he of the .192 batting average this year, who always finds a way to kill the Braves), and then allowed two doubles and two singles in the second inning for two more Phillie runs. With the run support (or lack thereof) that Teheran has gotten this year, a 6-0 deficit after two innings pretty much means you can turn the game off, confident in the outcome.

On the other side of the diamond, Jerad Eickhoff was doing his best to make that outcome a reality. He retired the first 11 batters he faced, and seemed to be rolling merrily along. Freddie Freeman finally got to him in the 4th inning with a solo home run to extend his hitting streak to 29 games, the longest in the majors this season. I’ve said it once but I’ll say it again: this team does not deserve him. He’s on such a roll right now the end of the season will be quite inconvenient for his personal stats (although with a new baby at home, I’m sure he’ll welcome the family time).

Mother Nature then stepped in and handed the Braves a great favor—a nearly two-hour rain delay that knocked both starting pitchers out and breathed new life into the home nine. When the teams returned to the field, the Braves bullpen dominated and did not allow a run over the last five innings. Their efforts gave the team the chance to make a most improbable comeback.

In the 6th inning, Inciarte and Freeman both drew walks, and with two outs, Markakis singled to knock Inciarte in. Tyler Flowers followed with a three-tun home run, a no-doubter to center field, to get the Braves to within one run of their foes.

Following an uneventful 7th inning, the Braves offense kicked it into gear again. Freeman led off the 8th with his second hit of the game, and moved to third when Flowers doubled with one out. Daniel Castro drew an intentional walk to load the bases, and then Dansby Swanson struck out for the second out and it looked like the Phillies might wiggle out of the jam. Mallex Smith, making his first start since his return from the DL, ensured that would not be the case and came through with a base hit to tie the game on Freeman’s third run scored on the evening.

Bonifacio then got in on the fun with an infield hit to short to push across go-ahead run, and suddenly a most improbable comeback was complete. Jim Johnson came in and closed out the game with a perfect 9th, and the Braves secured their eighth win over their last nine games, a 7-6 victory over the Phillies.

Who is this team, and what have they done to the real 2016 Braves?

Well, that’s a wrap for me for the 2016 season. I was convinced after the first inning I was only going to have a tale of woe to relate for the Braves final Tuesday game, but instead they gave me gold. It’s been real and it’s been fun, but I can’t say the 2016 season has been real fun. Let’s do it all over again next year, only maybe with a few more Ws and a lot fewer Ls. If the Braves can pick up next season where they are leaving off this season, that could actually become reality. What fun a winning season would be!

44 thoughts on “Braves Most Comebackiest Game of the Year”

  1. Thanks for the year, Rissa.

    I left this one after it went to rain delay and assumed a defeat. This despite my intellectual recognition that “Snit ball” does allow for comebacks rather than conceding defeat.

    Somebody in the NL East that thinks they want to compete ought to sign Ryan Howard to a minor league deal and bring him up against the Braves and then send him down. He actually becomes effective against the Braves.

    Happy Braves Journal maintenance, everyone.

  2. On a more serious note – do the recappers still need to linkify the player names? Seeing as how I have, in the past, caused various visual trauma trying to just that thing.

  3. These comeback wins are really annoying me. There are three or four players (two of whom are VU guys…) in next year’s draft that are a cut above, IMO, and the Braves are going to blow their chance to get one of them.

  4. Could the argument be made that the Braves are positioning themselves as the most attractive option for a player in the top-5, and the perfect player for the Braves might position themselves to be drafted by the Braves? The A’s, Rays, Phillies, and Twins are nosediving to end the season, and the Braves are the only one among them with a winning record over any significant recent stretch.

  5. I’d hate to be the Phillies. After starting the year 14-10 in April, they’ve gone 12-16, 9-19, 13-14, 12-14, and now 10-14 in September with Atlanta and NY to go. In the beginning of the season, many said the Braves were going backwards and the Phillies forward, but that certainly has not worked out that way. With that said, their starting pitching core is a little farther along, but one of their best SPs this year (Hellickson) is set to be a FA. With the emergence of Mallex, Inciarte, Dansby, and Jace, I think we’re right there with them on position player core, and we’re beating their pants off in the ‘pen. I see the Nats and Mets losing a step in the next couple years, Miami will continue to tread water, and the Braves and Phillies fighting it out to join the Nats and Mets.

  6. @10, I don’t think players drafted in the top 5 think about how that their team finished the previous losing season. Insofar as they even care who drafts them, I’d think bigger selling points would be which club develops young talent the best. If you’re a pitcher, getting drafted by the Braves would seem pretty good. Hitter…

  7. Todd Van Poppel cared. Eli Manning cared. John Elway cared.

    If you’re a college power hitting outfielder, I think you wouldn’t mind getting drafted by the Barves.

  8. 2/3 of your examples are football players who immediately graduate to the “big league club” after being drafted

  9. Yeah, but that’s just off the top of my head, and those are high profile and local examples. If you’re the outfield equivalent of Dansby Swanson and the other teams are your options, you might be inclined to prefer to be drafted by a team close to contention. It’s possible. We don’t know what goes on behind the scenes with draftees.

  10. I knew Aaron’s numbers were crazy, but I didn’t remember how crazy they really were. The counting numbers floored me. Walking more than he struck out astounded me. Hitting 40+ homers and stealing 30+ bases that monster season was ho-hum compared to those cumulative stats. What really surprised me: Mr. Aaron “only” got on base 37 and a half percent off the time over his career. I figure his obp would have been somewhere in the Ted Williams category.

    Pretty good career though: he’s got a good case for number one all time. What a player, role model and gentleman Henry Louis Aaron was, is and remains.

    Thank you for the link, JonathanF.

  11. 10—I would have a tough time buying that argument in the age of slotted bonuses. The kids are going to want to maximize their earnings, and in most cases, the teams with the higher picks can offer them more money.

  12. If we draft a high schooler they won’t help until 2020 anyways, so there’s no immediate payoff…but damn, to put our fans through this type of season and not get the first pick, that’s just dumb.

  13. I’m OK with the 2nd pick. I like winning, but going on a flurry in the last week of the season to drop from #2 to #7 would make me sick at my tummy.

    Hank Aaron had 18 seasons of 5+ fWAR in his career. For even most first-division starters, a 5+ WAR season would be their career year. Aaron had 15 seasons of 6.8 or more fWAR, which are MVP-caliber seasons.

  14. Hey Alex, there’s something wrong with the new Fangraphs host set up – some comments are still loading with Tebow references.

  15. The only area of his game in which Henry Aaron was anything less than extraordinary was walks. He rarely struck out, and his walk rate is still quite good, but he didn’t walk quite as much as many of his peers on the list of the greatest sluggers of all time.

    Just for comparison of BB%:
    Aaron: 10.1%
    Mays: 11.7%
    Reggie Jackson: 12.0%
    Foxx: 15.0%
    Mantle: 17.5%
    Williams: 20.6%

  16. @28

    In most cases that would not compute, but Ted had one of the highest BABOPs (BABNIPs?…basically HR/HR+K) in history — 521/521+709 = .424, so his BABIP trails his BA.

  17. BABIP doesn’t include homers or strikeouts (events where the ball is not “in play”, i.e., over the fence or in the catcher’s mitt), but these things do affect batting avg.

    For most players, their Batting avg is less than their BABIP, but Williams hit enough homers and struck out rarely enough that it is actually higher.

    PS, Rio Ruiz, good job. A triple for your first ML Hit in your first AB! Kid will be easy to root for if he’s any good.

  18. So you’ve got balls in play and balls not in play, and each player has a batting average on each. The only plays that impact a player’s batting average other than balls hit into the field of play are HRs (in which every player’s batting average is 1.000) and Ks (.000 for everyone). In the NL this year, there have been 2597 HRs and 19303 Ks, so the NL BA on balls out of play is .119. So it’s extremely difficult, especially now, for a player to have a higher BA on those balls than the .300 number around which BABIP tends to hover, but that’s what is required for a player’s overall BA to exceed his BABIP.

    Edit: or what JohnWDB said far more pithily….

  19. I know all this winning is hurting our draft position – but I find that I just don’t care. I really like winning.

    /Western Desperado ‘Winning, arson, murder, winning.’

    /Hedley Lamarr ‘You said winning twice.’

    /WD ‘I like winning.’

  20. This will be the most interesting off season since 1990.

    The top five things we should look for to win next year:

    1) A number one starter
    2) A catcher
    3) A number three starter
    4) A bat with some pop (could be catcher, third, OF)
    5) Another quality arm for the pen

    A top of the rotation starter may be hard to find. I think Julio is a high end #2.

    A rotation of Sale, Julio, Fister (or Sonny Gray), Folty and Wisler could be stout if Fister or Gray can have bounce back seasons.

  21. I think Sale is the most obvious ‘available’ top end starter, but will his price be so high that no team is willing to pay it? It’s certainly a possibility with Reinsdorf calling the shots in the White Sox front office.

    And if Reinsdorf is willing to be reasonable, could a package the Braves can put together be better than one form the Red Sox or Dodgers, who I *think* have more high end prospects. I mean, if Boston offers Moncada and Benintendi that would be tough to beat, and Sale might be worth that type of deal.

  22. So – that Matt Kemp deal is working out pretty well so far, huh? He’s up to a meaty .289/.341/.522 slash line with the Braves. Most significantly, he bumped up his walk rate from insanely low (16 BBs in 409 ABs with the Padres) to acceptable (18 BBs in 201 ABs with the Braves). His Atlanta walk rate is consistent with his career norms, which gives me hope that Kemp can keep up a .330 – .350 OBP next year.

    Kemp’s not an ideal player by any means, but he filled a huge need for the Braves (RH power) at a pretty reasonable cost. The Braves are paying Kemp $18M/year 2017-19 once you factor in the $3.5M/year from the Dodgers, plus they’re out from under the Hector Olivera contract ($9.5M/year) so effectively Kemp costs the Braves $8.5M/year 2017-19. That’s quite a bargain.

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