The Braves can only do one thing consistently well, and that is to be the most streakily inconsistent team I’ve ever had the pleasure or misfortune to root for. They are, I think, in the cold light of day, a bad good team, which is obviously less fun to enjoy than a good bad team. But once in a while, they eat lightning and crap thunder and lay an unholy smackdown that would give a more wistful fan airy notions of what might have been. But for us jaded cynics, it’s just what they do nearly as often as they lose 2-1.
Anyway — let me accentuate the positive!
Actually, this game was one of those rare occasions where exactly what you thought would happen was exactly what did. The Mets started a mediocre journeyman who hadn’t gotten out of the fourth inning in either of his last two starts, Jerad Eickhoff. Coming into the game, his ERA was 4.96 but his FIP was 8.11; tonight, he went 3 1/3 innings, gave up ten earned runs, and left with an ERA of 8.69.
The Braves started Charlie Morton, who at this point I think you’d have to say is the club’s stopper. He’s on something of a roll lately: coming into the game, over his past seven starts, he had tossed 45 innings with a 2.40 ERA and a sparkling 55-to-14 K-BB ratio.
Tonight, he didn’t have to be nearly that fine, but he was still cruising till the fifth. He departed after five innings and 89 pitches, having allowed three runs. It wasn’t any kind of commanding performance, but with the offense piling 10 runs in the first four innings, you basically just needed a guy to toe the bump and throw strikes, and that’s just what he did. He’s not quite Josh Donaldson in 2019, but he has absolutely continued AA’s streak of terrific one-year contracts.
Also on fire entering tonight’s game, and more or less picking up where he left off, was Freddie Freeman. Coming into tonight, Freddie was hitting .403/.489/.675 in July. Tonight, he lowered those numbers just a touch, as he only went 1-for-3 with two walks and three runs scored.
But, really, tonight showcased the awesome power of a fully operational mothership. The first five hitters in the lineup went 7-for-19 with five walks and three homers, and seventh-place hitter Abraham Almonte tossed in a tater of his own for good measure. The game ball goes to Austin Riley, who pulled two towering long flies deep into Queens, including a grand slam that was an absolute dagger in the heart.
Guys like Almonte, Heredia, Vogt, Adrianza, and Kevan Smith can’t be counted on for any offense; anything they give you is lagniappe. So the team will rise and fall on the basis of the production of the top of the lineup. Without rehashing all the stuff we know about them all too well, tonight they delivered, and it was an awesome sight.
Edgar Santana tossed one good inning and then gave up two runs in his second inning of work, which was no problem with the lead that big. Then, somehow, Josh Tomlin and Shane Greene finished up the game with two more scoreless innings, despite Greene giving up a single and Tomlin giving up both a single and a ground-rule double. Nothing we haven’t seen before.
Two more games against these bums coming up, tomorrow night and Thursday afternoon just after noon. Without tempting fate by expressing any hopes whatsoever, I will simply state my gratitude at being able to recap a game which was so profoundly not a bummer.
Oh, and Austin, if you’re reading, I owe you a Coke. Have a night, kid.