Braves 5, Pirates 1

DOOMCON4 achieved.  Please stand down.

Ronald Acuna Jr. led off the Braves 1st inning with a home run, like he does, cancelling out a 2 out RBI single by Colin Moran in the top of the inning, and scored the eventual go-ahead run after leading off the bottom of the 8th with a single.  The Braves tacked on 3 more runs in the 8th, just for fun; Brad Brach‘s scoreless 9th made those redundant.

Julio Teheran went 7 innings, allowing 4 hits, 2 walks, and striking out 5. The walk to Gregory Polanco led to the run.  Moran ended up with 3 hits.

The Braves hit the ball hard against Nick Kingham, several hit right on the nose, but had nothing to show for it apart from the Acuna homer.  7 of Kingham’s 15 outs were recorded in the outfield, but he allowed just 4 hits, including a double by Acuna, who ended up 3 for 4.  Couldn’t be bothered to hit a triple though.

Contra to Kingham, apart from Acuna’s single, the Braves scored their 4 runs in the 8th with only an Ozzie Albies blooper reaching the outfield.  The Braves utilized a sacrifice bunt, an error, a walk, an infield single, the aforementioned blooper, a wild pitch, and an infield single to put the game out of reach.  The Pirates rode reliever Steven Brault for 57 pitches; he could record only 1 out in his 3rd inning of work.  Dan Winkler and Jonny Venters tag-teamed the 8th.  Winner, winner, Jonny Venters.

Coupled with a Philadelphia loss, the Braves division lead is now 4 games, which should put Braves Journal at DOOMCON4 (Braves fans never use DOOMCON5.  Also not used: DOOMCON2, DOOMCON3.)

Boston comes to town on Monday.

Author: Rusty S.

Rusty S. is a Braves Journal reader since 2005 and an occasional innings-eater. It was my understanding that there would be no expectations.

122 thoughts on “Braves 5, Pirates 1”

  1. If the season ended today, we would play the D-Backs in the first round.

    DOOMCON5 had to have been the 2011 collapse, though, right?

  2. Starting out the game I was convinced that this would be something like 10 to 9. First inning Julio looked like bad Julio and the Braves started out pounding Kingham. I’m not sure what happened to the pitchers or hitters after the first, but I was shocked to see it turn into a pitchers’ duel.

  3. @1–actually, I think we’d face the Dodgers who currently lead the west. The Cubs would face the WC game winner.

  4. For the next 10 games the Braves play the Red Sox, Diamondbacks, and Giants. If we can win 5 out of 10 and only lose 1.5 games or less to the Phillies, I like our chances. Phillies are playing the Marlins, Mets, and gNats.

  5. Five o’clock wake up here in the country this morning. Deep darkness, utter silence. The jumbled mind starts the process of prioritizing the day ahead. There’s something special you think, what could that be?

    The answer is instantaneous. You lucky boy.

    It’s September and Touki Toussaint starts against the Boston Red Sox today. Wow.

  6. The Cubs would face the team with the worst record. The Braves would get the second worst record.

  7. My quick google of a couple of websites indicates that the team with the best record (in our scenario, presumably the Cubs) plays the wildcard game winner and the other two division winners face each other. As of now, both the Cards and Brewers have better records than anyone in the West. So this could be a season in which a division winner plays a division opponent in the first round.

    Of course, there are still four weeks to play, and everything could change. It’s actually a belly a race, with eight teams having a pretty chance for the five playoff spots.

  8. @14 That’s what I found too. And the MLB graphic on Twitter I read is now gone. Maybe I dreamt it.

  9. Johan Camargo, according to Fangraphs, has now produced more wins above a replacement player than Nick Markakis. Ender Inciarte is in striking distance if Nick continues to struggle.

    Acuna is, by far, the most valuable player on the team per PA.

    Freddie has been displaced in the NL fWAR lead by several players. I think his MVP candidacy has completely faded barring a big hot streak.

  10. Obviously WAR in short sample can be misleading, but Nick was the only sub-replacement level regular in August. Even Ozzie and his 66 wRC+ was more valuable than Nick (0.1 to -0.1).

  11. I think the NL MVP race, like the pennant races themselves, is wide open. But Freddie would have to have a very big September to get back in the running (and let’s hope he does!).

    You know, if Ronald has a September like his August (which is highly unlikely of course—but who knows what’s possible with this kid) he may just win it himself.

  12. I think Acuna would’ve won the MVP barring service time games and injury. Even if he tears up September he’s probably too far behind Carpenter, plus the Braves have had almost zero national pub all year.

    He’s without a doubt *our* MVP though.

  13. @20–you’re almost certainly right. I’m not sure any MVP in history has won after missing almost two months of the season.

    But——if Acuña has a September like his August he will have an OPS over 1.000 and his HR total will be in the 30’s. And to do that at age 20 will generate a lot of national publicity. Of course if he does replicate his August stats in September he will have had one of the great rookie seasons of all time.

  14. @25, no doubt. Let’s hope he makes that vote a big debate.

    FWIW I can’t remember the last time I’ve been this excited for a Braves rookie starting pitcher outing. Let’s go Touki. I love the decision to throw him today – it’s either gonna be really good, or maybe really bad, but he’s fine either way. What a great learning experience.

  15. Eovaldi had to throw 40 pitches in the first inning. With the expanded rosters the Red Sox had a guy warming up already before Eovaldi got out of the jam.

  16. Since July 1st — 235 PAs — Nick has a .269/.331/.420 line. For over the last 2 months, he has been the same player we got in the first 3 years. I love that he had a great 3 months, but he’s now the same player some were wanting to be platooned or salary dumped. And if you had to bet on which Nick you’re going to get in the playoffs, my bet is on the one from the first 3 years.

  17. They don’t have the cajones to sit him though. And they don’t have a replacement…so there’s that.

  18. Culberson could spell him. Preston Tucker could spell him. But Markakis takes pride in being in the lineup everyday and Snitker being the players manager as he appears to be won’t sit him.

  19. Adam Duvall has played every day these past few years. He may be struggling to adapt to a bench role. Would it be the worst in the world to let Duvall play against lefties in RF?

  20. Then Tucker and Culbs are enough to spell Nick, then.

    Blue needs to stop giving up on Touk’s curve.

  21. Joe Simpson, who was an awful hitter, giving hitting tips to guys a lot better than him is always annoying AF.

    Alex Cora understands giving the quick hook with the benefit of expanded rosters.

  22. I wish they had tried a squeeze with Touki. Might’ve worked better than a GB. Just lucky it wasn’t a DP.

  23. @48 Why not? Of course you can. With less than two outs, the goal is to get the run home before they can get to the ball and give up an out at first.

  24. It’s going to take an analytics type manager to win in the postseason. Moves like these contribute to early exits.

  25. We’ll be the worst team in the post-season if we make it. It’s going to take luck. A lot of it. The ATL is due though.

  26. Dansby fouled a 90 MPH fastball right down the middle back. Acuña popped up a hanging slider. Ugh.

  27. @53 Not if he scores before they touch the base. That’s the whole point. Just because a tag is not required doesn’t mean you can’t squeeze.

  28. 68 — The force makes it easier, they can just flip it to the plate. Plus it’s dumb to squeeze anyway, if he misses the ball it’s an easy out. Touki is not a bad hitter for a pitcher. They made the right call to let him hit away. It just didn’t work out.

  29. Will someone please get a hit with runners in scoring position? The Braves have had a million chances these five innings and still somehow have zero runs.

  30. The smart play with Touki up would have been to tell him not swing. Guarantee that Acuna gets an AB with the bases loaded. In the end we did get that anyways and it didn’t work out.

    Dansby missed a meatball right down the middle during that inning. It’s the way things have been going lately.

  31. @69 @71 and the result is no run scored. I would wager that it’s easier to get home if the ball doesn’t travel all the way out to the first baseman. Sometimes you have to take out of the box measures to score when you’re begin shut out every game. At least until the 8th inning. Today we have scored nothing – haven’t even sniffed a run. I guess the smart strategy is just to give up and get shut out.

  32. Good to see Ozzies launch angle back. It is a shocking development to me that I’m starting to get a little confidence in Sam Freeman and Luke Jackson.

  33. @74 Bullshit. It’s thinking like that that makes it more likely to be successful. Hopefully, the other team thinks that way and you can steal a run without having to rely on a pitcher to get a hit.

  34. I wouldn’t suicide with a rookie pitcher and someone other than Lane at 3B with the bases loaded. That’s a DP waiting to happen with Acuna up next.

  35. @78 @80 Again, that adds to the element of surprise. Teams must take risks if they’re not scoring runs the normal way. Would a DP in that situation have been worse than the actual result? At least Acuna would have led off the next inning instead of popping out with the bases loaded. Of course the result would have likely been the same or better (one out or one out and a run). Camargo is not slow; he just doesn’t steal. Even if Touki misses, you should end up with runners on 2nd and 3rd with two outs.

  36. 83 — The probable result is that Touki misses the squeeze, then makes the last out of the inning afterwards.

    You, yourself have been calling Acuña the offense lately. You really think taking away the chance for him to bat with the bases full is the smart way to go? Come on, man.

  37. Bunting is dumb. I’m fine with P sacrifices but player bunting strategically is not a smart play in all but the most unique cases.

  38. @86 I am saying that we need to do something to spark the offense. Nothing else has worked so far. Did anyone see the game the Rays beat us in? Did you see how many risks they took? We have the most speed in the league and we haven’t used it at all. THAT is not smart.

  39. Here we go again; bases loaded and one out. Can we do something to score a run here? I hope so. Either by taking no risks or some risks; I don’t care. I just want to see some runs scored.

    I’d have been ecstatic if Touki had hit a sac fly, but the odds of that were less than with Zuk.

  40. I don’t think the suicide squeeze would have been a bad idea, but I think it was slightly more risk than I would have been willing to take in that moment.

  41. We have also had quite a few infield singles, but I think he’s referring to the lack of stolen bases, which is fair.

  42. @94 No one has been taking extra bases recently. It’s not just steals. The less we score the more “safe” we’ve been playing. In April/May, this team was running with wild abandon. You guys have real short memories. This team was made by taking those risks. We just need to get back to that.

  43. Roger, that’s just not true. Acuña has turned multiple singles into doubles. Duvall won a game by scoring on a ground ball when the first baseman looked away. Wild pitches that bounced a few feet away from the catcher happened several times against the Pirates. So did short fly balls that turned into sac flies.

  44. They don’t need Kimbrel considering we can’t score any runs anyway. And they are getting a big enough lead that Moylan could finish us off.

  45. @106 Those examples are not examples of aggressively trying to score runs. Those are advantages taken when they were given. We were doing a lot more than that at the beginning of the year. Bunt for a hit. Move runners along. When you can’t play long ball, you have to play small ball. We are terrible at small ball when we should be great at it because of our speed and contact ability (second fewest strikeouts in the NL).

  46. I guess we don’t have to do much winning; just wait for the Phils to lose every game they have left.

  47. Winning the division will be a great accomplishment. Getting swept during the division series will reward that great accomplishment.

  48. A few observations:
    – Braves fans should really be more into it, playing meaningful baseball in September against the best team. Though many there, they are quiet.
    – Despite the loss, this is a young and super exciting team
    – Touki looked great through 4 obviously.
    – Bryse should maybe better start games
    – Ozzie’s HR was a great sight
    – the pool at the Omni hotel rocks, overlooking the ballpark
    – the rooms with stadium view are nice.

    Go Braves.

  49. This Boston team is very strong. That line of relievers they throw at you is impressive. They should go all the way this year.

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