After a highly auspicious start to the series on Friday afternoon, things took a turn for the worse. After dropping Saturday’s game to set up a rubber match, the Braves also lost Sunday’s game 6-4 at Wrigley Field, giving the Cubs the series victory.
The Braves took two separate leads in this game and lost them both in the next half-inning. Charlie Morton gave up five runs on four hits and four walks over 4.1 innings. The bullpen did an OK job of holding down the fort, allowing only a single run on three hits over the remaining 3.2 innings. But the offense couldn’t take advantage of their big chance to get back into the game, dropping the series as a result.
The Braves got on the board in the third inning as Matt Olson launched a two-run homer to the back of the stands in right-center. However, Chicago loaded the bases with one out in the bottom half of the frame, then scored a run on a force out. With two outs, Morton proceeded to walk back-to-back Cubs to force in a second run and tie the game.
Ronald Acuna doubled with one out in the fifth, and Ozzie Albies followed with a single to right. I know Wash tends to be send-happy and it tends to work, but this was a dumb send. The right fielder collected the ball with his momentum headed towards home plate when Acuna was still a step and a half from third base. Ronald was out by 10 feet. Fast-forward a couple batters and Olson drove Albies in with a single to give the Braves the lead back, 3-2, but that sequence still seemed like something of a missed opportunity. The wheels then fell off for Charlie in the bottom of the inning and the Cubs took a 5-3 lead.
Atlanta loaded the bases with one out in the top of the sixth. Acuna was hit by a pitch to drive in a run and cut the lead to 5-4. Bases still loaded, still one out. Albies and Austin Riley strike out on consecutive at-bats to leave the Braves still behind, and Chicago adds a run in the seventh. It just seemed that for everything that went right today, two things went wrong.
So now the Braves will try and bounce back on the road against the Pittsburgh Pirates, whose season has appropriately gone adrift at sea. If you’re like me, you looked at the NL Central standings prior to this road trip and asked yourself what happened to the Pirates since the end of April, when they were leading the division. Well, nothing good. They endured one stretch of seven losses in a row and 11 in 12 games, then suffered another stretch of 10 straight defeats and 12 in 13 games. Oh, and then there was the stretch of 12 losses in 14 games. So yeah, one hopes the Braves can figure out a way to win at least three games in this four-game series.