Guy Clark was the perhaps the greatest American songwriter most people have never heard of.  One of his signature songs is “LA Freeway.”  Check this out, and then come back: Guy Clark, “L.A. Freeway,” Austin City Limits – YouTube

OK. Everyone back now? The Braves escaped the LA Freeway, but not before being swept in three games.  That’s nothing new for our guys; they  have now lost the last nine games they’ve played in the stadium in Chavez Ravine.

But you know what? Despite the sweep, they got off the LA Freeway without getting killed or caught.  They are still very much alive, and despite losing 6 of the last 8, they have not been caught by the Phillies. The lead in the NL East is 2 games, with 4 and a half weeks left to play.  It’s going to be an intense and exciting pennant race, in all likelihood going down to the wire.

It’s disappointing to get swept, but there’s no need for alarm. All three games went down to the last pitch; in all three, the Braves had the tying or winning run at the plate in the ninth inning. And just look at the Dodgers starters they had to face: Max Scherzer last night looked every bit the HOFer he will doubtless be; Walker Buehler on Tuesday is probably the front runner for this year’s Cy Young; and almost as an afterthought, Monday’s pitcher, Jose Urias, is now 15-3 with a 3.17 ERA.

No need for alarm, but we are allowed some frustration at the Braves bullpen.  For the second night in a row, the Braves led in the late innings, only to have the bullpen surrender two runs for a one run loss.  On Wednesday, Scherzer shut out the Braves through six, and he was dominant—9 K’s, no walks and only three singles.  Our own Max, Varsity Fried, was almost as good in six frames.  He also struck out nine and surrendered only three hits.  Only problem was, two of those hits were sole home runs by Muncy (he’s become the best hitter in the deepest lineup in the league) and Austin Barnes (just who is he?).

Fortunately for the Braves, Dave Roberts lifted Scherzer after only 76 pitches, and in the 7th, d’Arnaud singled, followed by a two run shot by Eddie Rosario.  (Let’s all stop for a moment and genuflect once again in the direction of Alex Anthopoulos.) After Rodriguez and Matzek held the Bums scoreless in the bottom of the 7th, Dansby hit a blast to deep center that gave the Braves a 3-2 run lead. (BTW, I still cannot wrap my head around the way the ball now flies out of Dodger Stadium.  I still think of it as the cavernous place of the 1960’s and 1970’s where fly balls went to die.)

At that point, I was already worrying about the expected appearance of Will Smith in the ninth with a run one lead.  If you want to follow Eric Idle’s advice and look on the bright side, we were spared that drama, as the Dodgers scored two in the 8th to retake the lead.  The Braves went quietly in the 9th to complete the sweep, obviating the opportunity for more Hancock trauma.

But Chris Martin has become at least as big an issue as Smith.  Matzek came back out in the 8th (good job, Snit!), but gave up a leadoff double to Trea Turner on a fastball that was up around his eyes.  Still, he got Muncy to groundout and then struck out Betts.  For some reason, Snit decided to replace Matzek with Martin to face Justin Turner. Single, walk, single, and all of a sudden the Braves are down 4-3.  Both singles were ground balls in the hole, but it appeared on both that Martin got too much of the plate.  Martin is not a strikeout pitcher; he depends on command and control.  These Dodgers simply do not chase out of the zone, even with two strikes.  Also, I’m normally not one to blame the umpire, but the ball and strike calls in the last couple of innings were as bad as anything I remember.  Martin threw a couple clearly in the zone that were called balls.  Then the same ump turned around in the top of the ninth and called a strike that was a good six inches below the knees.

The Braves now head to Denver for four.  I know the Rockies have a good home record, but they are still the Rockies. None of the pitchers they face will be anything like these last three.  In fact, let’s rough them up so much that we’re not relying on Cold Play and Hancock late in close games.

One other piece of good news: Drew Smyly will not start one of the games in Denver.  Touki gets the start tonight.

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So, after these last three games, I fully share in Guy Clark’s sentiments:

Pack up all your dishes
Make note of all good wishes
And say goodbye to the landlord for me
That son of bitch has always bored me

Throw out the L.A. papers
And that mouldy box of Vanilla Wafers
Adios, to all this concrete
Gonna get me some dirt road back streets

If I can just get off of this L.A. freeway
Without gettin’ killed or caught
Down that road in a cloud of smoke
To some land I ain’t bought, bought, bought

Put the pink card in the mailbox
Leave the key in that ol’ front door lock
They’ll find it likely as not
I’m sure there’s somethin’ we have forgot

Oh, Susanna, don’t you cry, baby
Love’s a gift that’s surely handmade
We got somethin’ to believe in
Don’t you think, it’s time we’re leavin’?

If I can just get off of this L.A. freeway
Without gettin’ killed or caught
Down that road in a cloud of smoke
To some land I ain’t bought, bought, bought

If I can just get off of this L.A. freeway
Without gettin’ killed or caught