Braves 2, Giants 1

Phew! Last night’s game was sort of a Rorschach blot: what you see as the main takeaways really depends on what you want to see.

Max Fried pitched an absolutely brilliant game, until. With 94 pitches through seven innings and nursing the gossamer-thinnest of 1-0 leads, Fried was sent out by Brian Snitker to start the eighth. Snitker, the players’ manager, often seems to do this, but maybe that’s in the eye of the beholder. Then the leadoff Giant scratched a bunt single on the first pitch, followed by a bloop single on an 0-2 count, and there were men on first and third with nobody out — the first runner to reach third base all game. Snit kept him in, at a pitch count of 98.

At that point, Max clearly did not have the sharpness he’d had earlier in the game. His first and third pitches were nowhere close; the second was close but clearly low, and the fourth pitch was a strike but missed the target by enough that d’Arnaud had to reach for it and the umpire blew the call, leading to a bases-loading walk. Snitker brought in Will Smith, and we all sharply held our breath.

He immediately induced a pop fly, and then he gave up a clean single — it was a 3-1 count, after he’d missed the zone a few times and then had to come back with a fastball down the middle to avoid walking in a run — but luckily, it went right to Michael Harris II, and he came up firing, and the Giants only scored the tying run; the bases stayed loaded, and the go-ahead run remained on third. And then, on a 3-2 count, with the seventh pitch of the count, Smith got a strikeout, and then a groundout to finally end the inning. So it was 1-1, but we all knew it could have been worse. Jansen had a similar tightrope walk in his frame.

The trouble was, Logan Webb had been as brilliant as Fried, and kept the Braves’ bats quiet. Most of all, Ronald Acuña, Jr. stayed quiet. It doesn’t seem all that long since he was blisteringly hot, but it’s been a tough week. Since June 12, he has just four singles and four walks in his last 38 plate appearances. Once again, as has been so often for the team, if they weren’t hitting home runs, they weren’t crossing the plate: d’Arnaud contributed a solo shot, and that was all the scoring the lineup mustered until their final at bat.

Of course, not everyone scuffled. Michael Harris II went 3-3 with two singles and a triple that missed being a homer by inches, was bobbled in the outfield, and the stadium booed when he was held up at third rather than waved home. But you don’t want to get thrown out at the plate with two outs and your best hitter coming to the plate. Ronald hit the ball hard, but it was easily fielded, and the inning ended with no runs scored.

The ninth inning involved some good work by players who have not always come through this year. Olson patiently worked a walk on four balls outside, each to the same part of the zone. After d’Arnaud flew out, Marcell came to the plate.

Phil Gosselin, pinch-running for Olson, would have stolen second base on a pitch Ozuna swung and missed, but Marcell’s long swing followthrough went and clipped the catcher, so Goose was called back for interference, which especially stung as Marcell hit a sharp single to left that probably would have been an RBI had there been a man on second. As it was, runners were on first and second with one out.

Duvall came up, and struck out, as he so often does. It’s what you have to accept along with his homers and his terrific defense — he made a spectacular diving grab earlier in the game. He is who he is, and as a defensive specialist batting seventh he’s perfectly good.

And then came Orlando Arcia. The Giants’ Camilo Doval got behind in the count, missing with the first two pitches — overthrown fastballs — and then he came back with a cement-mixer slider high in the zone, which Arcia sharply grounded right in between the shortstop and third baseman. Walkoff single. Phew.

Terrific starting pitching, pretty good if not quite lights-out bullpen relief, and iffy offense: that’s a sentence you could have typed a lot in Atlanta over the last couple of decades. You could pretty much take that formula to the bank in the regular season. Any time you get nine hits and a walk, it’d be nice to cash in more than two baserunners, but the 0-4 from leadoff man Ronald Acuña and the 0-3 from cleanup hitter Matt Olson don’t make that as easy as you’d like, and the important thing is the win.

So, am I concerned, or just elated? Like I said, it’s a Rorschach blot.

52 thoughts on “Braves 2, Giants 1”

  1. @1 Yes, the game wrapups here are consistently great..

    I didn’t see Harris’s triple, but I’ll quibble anyway with the idea that you don’t want to get thrown out at the plate with two outs and your best hitter coming up. (Trying for third base with two outs is when the payoff isn’t worth the risk.) The more outs there are, the lower the probability of success has to be for it to be a good idea to try to score. If you stay at third with two out, even with your best hitter coming up there’s a greater than 60% chance you won’t score, so if Wash thought there was a 40% chance Harris could make it, he should’ve sent him.

  2. What a recap, AAR. Rorschach blot – nice! To echo JamesD84, it is amazing how consistently entertaining and smart these recaps are.
    Great win. Should Fried have gone back out in the 8th? Easy to say in hindsight. Glad it worked out in the end. Watching the recap, this looks like a game the Braves lose in April and May.

  3. Great write up!

    I agree about Snit’s strange tendency to give his starters too much rope to hang themselves. What’s odd about that, to me, is that the bullpen is a strength of this team. And we’ve been getting solid work from our rotation, so it’s not like the bullpen has been overworked. Fortunately, it didn’t bite him in the ass. And to Snit’s credit, he seems to have an uncanny ability to have things work out when he makes these calls. Must be “clutch managing”

  4. @2 and 3 – and replay showed he didn’t turn on the jets until midway to second. Jets out of the box – which would be a little odd – maybe would’ve been an in-the-parker. But I’m not going to find fault with the kid for that. He missed the HR by inches. And he’ll learn from it for next time.

  5. @8 You may be right because of the special circumstances – Arcia replacing Ozzie and getting the crucial hit. Harris’ and Duvall’s OF defense. Fried’s pitching. Against a winning team. Put that all together and you get one that’s especially gratifying.

    @4 @5 I don’t especially mind Snit’s decision to go with Fried in the 8th. I just would have pulled him after the bloop and before the walk.

    @2 @3 Harris went into 3rd very easily. Could he have made it home? I dunno. Even though he made 3rd easily, I don’t think the throw was a whole base’s worth behind him. But having said that, I would not trust Ronald in his slump and worst case would have been Ronald leading off the next inning. And it was only the 5th so not exactly the last chance.

  6. Why is he throwing 95? Letting a no bat C take him deep….shame.
    Kranitz has some explaining to do.

  7. Not sure why it would be Kranitz’s fault.

    On a separate note, tonight’s game is on TBS for those of you who (like me) watch the national broadcast when available to get a break from Chip. It’s even not blacked out in the Atlanta area, which the TBS broadcasts of Braves game have been to this point this year. I guess I should warn that it is Brian Anderson and Ron Darling, the latter of whom everyone hated in the NLCS last year.

  8. @16 IF he was told to dial it back for better command by Kranitz, I mean.
    Don’t know who else would tell him to do that, if he isn’t hiding an injury.
    Overall a bad idea, why not stick with the 99mph that has been working great so far.

  9. Darling Watch (in honor of JF’s Chip Watch): He just said that if Olson gets settled in, he’s capable of hitting 12 homers a month. If I remember my multiplication tables, that would equal 72 homers over the course of a season. Not that I wouldn’t take that, but it uh…seems like a little bit of an aggressive prediction.

    Also, he just said four points instead of four runs, which is amusing.

  10. Yeah, he was safe, but oh my goodness what a throw by Harris. Ain’t this kid something.

  11. Think he’s safe, unfortunately.

    EDIT: first bad start for Strider, the start after a career high in pitches thrown. Something like this was always gonna happen, though; can’t be all springtime and roses all year for Strider.

  12. BIG NEWS. Baseball wants all balls muddled the same way. Also no jock straps worn on your head. I am embarrassed to be a fan. What’s next hitting off a peg? Actually great idea. No more pitchers needed, allowing teams to complete games in under two hours. Each player gets paid more. Since most are throwers not pitchers anyway I will not miss them.
    Actually enjoying watch College World Series more. Arkansas looking good.

  13. I wonder if Strider was tipping his pitches. That was a 97 mph fastball on the black that Wynn ripped in the corner.

  14. Acuna’s power is just so easy. Before we changed cameras I did not think that was anything special.

  15. I do like it when HR are hit with runners on base ….
    Nice to see the offense starting to come together this month after many wanted Seitzer’s head early on.

  16. The two strike shift… the team gets what it deserves. Constantly burned on cheap ass hits when you pitch away from the hitter. It’s absolutely maddening

  17. Should have dfa’d O’Day instead of Cruz

    Oh good…here comes McHugh. Cruz is better than him as well. Stop rewarding history and start rewarding performance

  18. If you are a playing a shift defensively and the pitcher keeps nibbling on the outside w a LH hitter, aren’t your pitching and infield defense strategy in conflict? And Harris hits opposite field well. I don’t understand what SF is doing there.

  19. Lead off walks never hurt us…smh

    Hopefully this pitching implosion will be limited to one game.

  20. I barely understand what anybody’s doing on the shift anymore. Essentially, the default is now a crazy overshift, and there doesn’t seem to be any thought as to situation or whether or not the batter can go the other way. Give up a double-play chance in a late-and-close situation so you can shift? Yep. Shift while your pitcher proceeds to repeatedly pitch a hitter away, even with two strikes? Yep. It’s a hitter’s first major league at-bat and you have no idea what his deal is? Overshift! It’s dumb from an objective, analytical standpoint. I just don’t get it.

  21. @41 if you over shift it seems like you have to bust the hitter inside. Pitching middle away encourages the slap in the empty hole. Makes zero sense

  22. The bullpen crapfest tonight is caused by the fact our starter couldn’t get through 4. If these dudes had to pitch in the same game on a regular basis we would be in huge trouble. We basically pitched our three lowest leverage pitchers hoping we could stay in the game…didn’t work

  23. This super awesome closer of theirs hasn’t been too swift in either of these two games.

    EDIT: …and he’s apparently borderline psychotic.

  24. Waiting for Chip to say “Braves don’t always win, but they always give you a finish”

  25. Snit pulled Lee in favor of O Day ?? Why … Lee was throwing good .. where was Minter ??? Strider is a 7th or 8th inning guy … he is not a starter .. he is more valuable in bullpen .

  26. All I can say about this game is that having this after what happened last night is an especially big bummer. Some of the above comments are over the top (especially ignoring several good performances vs one bad one). I don’t know if anyone noticed but the SF lineup tonight was completely different than last night because of the right/left platoons. Tonight seemed like their “A” team while last night was the “B” team. The two teams (Braves/Giants) are pretty evenly matched – we won by one last night and they won by two tonight. Hopefully, we can pull out a split or series win yet. But they seem to struggle against lefties and we threw our lefty last night.

    But what a waste of 10 runs.

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