Our Braves came into today’s play with a chance for their season record to surpass .500 for the first time.  All they had to do was sweep the Padres in today’s doubleheader. 

You’ve been following this 2021 team, so you know how the script goes.  That elusive winning record is not going to happen today.  The Padres beat the Braves 3-2 in the first game of today’s twin bill.

In this afternoon’s game, the Braves scored only two runs, just as they did in yesterday’s game. Just  as it did in the weekend series against the Rays, the bullpen gave up multiple runs (a two run homer by Tatis off Greene in the fifth) after a starter had turned in a creditable performance (Muller gave up one run on two hits in four innings).  A late two run rally in the sixth, fueled by a Freeman single and Albies double, brought the Braves within a run.  But the league saves leader (trying to remember his name; he sure looks familiar), shut the Braves down easily in the 7th for the Padres win.

  *   *   *

Even if you’ve never read Joseph Heller’s brilliant novel Catch 22, you’re familiar with the concept that has come to bear the name of the book.  According to Wikipedia (so you know this is accurate), “A catch-22 is a paradoxical situation from which an individual cannot escape because of contradictory rules or limitations.” One example is a situation in which someone is in need of something that can only be had by not being in need of it; e.g., the only way to qualify for a loan is to prove to the bank that you do not need a loan. 

We all know that the Braves are on the knife’s edge of being sellers or buyers at the looming trade deadline.  As mediocre as the Braves have been, the division is similarly mediocre, and winning the pennant may not be out of range.  Most of us assume that the team will be willing to trade prospects for current needs if over the next ten days they can get above .500 and narrow the current 4.5 game deficit to the Mets. 

What do the Braves need to stay competitive for the division crown through August and September?  A big bat or two and two or three reliable bullpen arms.

The team demonstrated for the zillionth time today that they do indeed need more productive hitters in the lineup and better relievers.  Because they need those things, they continue to lose games they could have won.  Without more offense and a better bullpen, the Braves are not likely to close ground on the Mets in the next ten days.  But they can only get those things–the front office will only decide to spend to acquire them–if they win more games over the next ten games!  Catch 22.

Consider this a game thread for the nightcap (insert Skip Caray joke).  With a win, the Braves can still win the series against the Padres, and get the deficit back to four games.  Bryse Wilson against someone making his second big league start.  These are the kind of games you’ve got to win.