Back in the early 80s, when I was a college freshman, I was wandering through the Intimate Bookshop in downtown Chapel Hill and came across something called The Baseball Abstract by someone called Bill James. I picked it up and was immediately entranced, so I took some of my beer money and bought it. I don’t remember a lot of that particular year’s version (I think it was the ’82 edition), but the one article that has stuck with me all these years was a study Bill did on big innings. It seems he found that in a statistically significant number of games the winning team had one inning where they scored more runs than the losing team would score the entire game. Last night was just the latest (if extreme) example of that long-ago discovery by The Father of Sabremetrics.
Atlanta opened the scoring in the bottom of the 1st with some small ball deluxe. Ronald Acuna Jr. led off with a hustle double. He was advanced to third on a Dansby Swanson fly ball and scored when Freddie Freeman grounded to second. Get’em on, get ’em over, get ’em in.
In the bottom of the 2nd, the Braves continued with the small ball routine. Three straight singles by Nick Markakis, Austin Riley, and Tyler Flowers led to a bases loaded no out situation. Ozzie Albies flew out to left scoring Markakis for a 2-0 lead. Max Fried bunted Flowers and Riley over, and the Brewers walked Acuna, but Swanson couldn’t deliver the big two out hit.
To open the 3rd, FabFive Freddie dispensed with the ticky tack approach, and launched a lead off bomb into the Chop House. 3-0. But, despite the Braves loading the bases again with two outs, they couldn’t add on as this time Fried struck out.
Things were feeling a bit uncomfortable despite the 3-0 lead. I mean, we had had base runners all over the place, and Milwaukee was one of the hotter teams in the league. But, Mad Max 2.0 was in control. He worked around some 3rd inning trouble, getting Christian Yelich to ground out with 2 down and men on first and second. Meanwhile the Braves seemed to go into Hibernation Mode against Jhoulys Chacin, going in order in the 4th, and only managing a two out bloop single by That Man, Mr. Riley, in the 5th.
When Fried issued a lead off walk to Eric Thames to start the 6th, followed by a passed ball, and with the top of the Brewers order looming, things seemed set to take a bad turn. But, a Lorenzo Cain ground out, a Yelich fly ball, and a Ryan Braun grounder ended any threat, and the Braves were set to have the Inning of the Decade in the bottom of the 6th. (Welll, not quite a decade, it WAS three days shy of 10 years since they had had as big an inning, but what’s three days among friends?)
Ozzie led off with a double to left. Fried tried to bunt him to third, but Corbin Burnes tried to pick off Ozzie and threw the ball into center. With Ozzie at third, Fried then took 4 wide pitches and walked. Acuna singled Ozzie home, then Dansby broke out of an 0-17 slump with a three run blast just over the left center fence. After Freddie struck out, Josh Donaldson launched one into the Braves’ bullpen for the fifth run of the inning. Markakis followed with a walk, then after Riley proved he’s not a cyborg by striking out, Tyler Flowers crushed a two run jack, chasing Burnes. 2/3 of an inning, 5 hits, 3 homers, 2 walks, 7 runs. I expect we’ll trade for him tomorrow as he’d fit right into our pen.
Despite the three Rally Killers, Atlanta wasn’t through with the inning. Ozzie dribbled one to second that he beat out. Fried doubled down the left field line, and Acuna came up with the final blow, a two out single for his second single of the inning and his second and third RBIs. Dansby flew out to right to end the slaughter 36 minutes after the inning started. 12-0 Braves.
Snit took out Fried after that long inning, and the pen showed why there’s no lead too safe for us this year. Josh Tomlin came in and got the first two outs quickly, but gave up three straight singles to lose the shutout. In the 8th Tomlin gave up a lead off single to Cain, then Mike Moustakas doubled him to third. A Braun groundball scored Cain, and Tomlin gave up a two run shot to Jacob Nottingham. 12-4 Braves.
In the 9th Jonny Venters came in to finish up, and he struck out the first two Brewers. A two out walk should have been no issue as Venters got Cain to ground the ball to Dansby, but Swanson let the ball go right through the wickets and Milwaukee was still alive. A walk to Moustakas loaded the bases, and Braun drove in two with a single. Wes Parsons came in and he couldn’t get the last out. A walk to Jose Aguilar and a Jacob Nottingham single and all of a sudden it’s 12-8 and Luke Jackson has to come in to strike out Hernan Perez to secure a save for a game the Braves led 12-0 going into the 7th. Sheesh. Although, to be fair if Swanson hadn’t booted the ball it would’ve only been 12-4.