I just moved in with my fiancee on Sunday. Well, we’re not finished moving – we moved all the stuff from my condo into her apartment, and then in a month we’re both going to move into a new apartment. In the meantime, we’ve been planning our wedding, and we’ve got two weddings to go to in October, and she’s been interviewing for a new job. Tomorrow night, we’re going to see the Braves play here in Washington, and they’ve been playing like they’re as exhausted as we are.
Bryce Elder didn’t have his command today. He walked three men in the first inning and gave up a single and it was only by the grace of the Lord and the skin of his teeth that he escaped with just one run in. Then he gave up a solo homer in the second and a two-run homer in the fourth. His final line: four earned in 3 2/3, on five walks and three hits (two of which were home runs), with zero strikeouts. Some days it’s just not your day.
Elder has had a genuinely magical year, but his ERA is catching up to his FIP. His first half-ERA of 2.97 was a run lower than his 4.11 FIP; meanwhile, his second-half ERA is 4.71 and his second-half FIP is 4.97, bringing his totals to an ERA of 3.63 and a FIP of 4.44. I still think he’s a perfectly cromulent 4th or 5th starter, but I also think that he’s the guy his FIP has been telling us that he is.
The Braves never led in this game. But they very nearly won it anyway. The story of the game, of course, is the triumphant return of Uncle Jesse Chavez. He hadn’t pitched since June 14th, and all he did was come in and pitch 2 1/3 scoreless innings, giving up just a hit and a walk. Aaron Nola was quite good, as he often is, but he came out after six innings and it was just 4-2. In the eighth, the Braves got two men on and Marcell nearly hit one out, but instead it bounced off the bricks and what could have been a go-ahead homer became a game-tying double. Brian Snitker immediately pinch-ran for him with Forrest Wall and brought in Kevin Pillar to pinch-hit for Eddie Rosario, but Pillar struck out and the runner was stranded.
Then, in the ninth, Sean Murphy drew a leadoff walk, and Snitker pinch ran again, this time with Luke Williams, who immediately stole second and then third. But he got hosed at the plate on a relatively long foulout by Orlando Arcia. (One of the commentors noted that he got a poor jump.) The game would have been over if he could have gotten in there. Sadly, we got to see some free baseball, and A.J. Minter had an episode with the Manfred man on second: leadoff walk, double play, walk, double steal, intentional walk, two-run double, walk, strikeout.
The Braves handed out ten free passes in ten innings. It’s a credit to the offense that they lost by only one run, because that’s no way to run a railroad.
Tomorrow, the Braves fly to our nation’s capital. I live here, and I could only name a couple of members of their team, and that’s mostly became I have them in my dynasty league. They are not an awful club; for what it’s worth, their second half record is exactly 31-31, though to be fair their run differential has been -80 over that timespan, so Lady Luck has been on their side. But we underestimate them at our peril, as we learned in Miami.
Let’s just curbstomp them in the first inning and make it plain, as Vernon Jordan said.