How to Be Both
Last night’s game was a good illustration of Ububba’s principle that you’re never as good a team as you look when you’re going really well, nor as bad as you look when you’re scuffling – we saw both those versions of this team last night, and luckily, we came out on top.
It seems a bit churlish to refer to last night’s win that way, but it was an instance of Hibernation Mode. Still, it was the team’s fourth win in a row on this new streak, after the Reds snapped an eight-game winning streak. And six runs is a very good day at the office, even if you get it all out of the way early.
The Good, the Bad
But: the Braves scored six runs, and all their runs scored via the five home runs they hit; the only man to score via someone else’s RBI was Ozzie Albies, who tripled ahead of Austin Riley‘s two-run blast. After Michael Harris II and Ronald Acuña went back-to-back in the second inning (Ronald’s second tater of the night), the Braves recorded four singles and two walks over the subsequent seven innings, allowing the Twins to get through the rest of the game with just two relievers, Oliver Ortega and Brent Headrick, two of the last men in their pen.
It’s hard not to feel like the Atlanta hitters took their foot off the gas, or to remember that this team struggles to score runs when it’s not hitting homers.
The home runs also obscured the four errors. Eddie Rosario was charged with two throwing errors, Orlando Aricia booted a ground ball leading to a run, and Sean Murphy threw in a throwing error of his own. As the ESPN recap put it: “The Braves committed four errors, including two on one second-inning play, but still had so many fielding highlights Snitker said it was ‘“’probably our best defensive game of the year. We made some great plays.'”
A less charitable way of putting it would be to say that most of the Braves defenders had a good game, but Eddie did not. Last night, he committed a throwing error on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly, alloing the Twins to come away from a sac fly to left field with men on second and third. And in a similar situation during Monday’s game – men on first and third, flyball to left field – he aired it out and tried to throw all the way home, but threw it way up the line and let the runner get to second.
Eddie got away with his poor decisions all three times, as the runners he allowed to advance did not come around to score, but he’s giving away way too many free bases with his bad arm and unwillingness to hit the cutoff man. For a nine-year veteran, that’s just not good enough.
Elder continued to show impressive poise, limiting the damage despite the distractions around him, though his command left something to be desired, as he walked two men in both the third and the fourth innings, and he hit a man with a pitch in the sixth. What was most impressive was his results immediately after something adverse happened:
- With one out in the first inning, Elder gave up a single and a double, then Orlando Arcia booted a ground ball to allow a run to score. Elder then started a double play on a comebacker to get out of the inning.
- With one out in the second inning, after a truly wacky play where Joey Gallo wound up on third base after a single to left field and throwing errors by both Rosario and Murphy, Elder kept the runner on third by recording a swinging strikeout and inducing a pop-up.
- In the third, Elder worked around a leadoff walk, a wild pitch, and a second walk, to get two flyouts and a groundout.
- With one out in the fourth, Elder gave up a double and then back-to-back walks to load the bases. After the next batter hit a sac fly and Eddie Rosario’s throwing error allowed both runners to advance, Elder struck out Carlos Correa to end the inning.
- In the sixth inning, after putting the leadoff batter on via HBP, Elder got a flyout and another double play to end the inning.
So, he bent but didn’t break. But he gave up a decent amount of hard contact and walked as many men as he struck out, and you can’t get away with that for very long. While his poise was excellent, pitching around that much traffic on a consistent basis is hazardous to your scoreboard.
First pitch is in just two hours, as Kolby Allard takes on Kenta Maeda. Hopefully the bats got some sleep last night! Here’s some more team news: