At the conclusion of a 10-game road trip marred by unlucky breaks and missed opportunities, it was almost fitting to see Wednesday’s game with Arizona follow the same pattern.
The Braves fell at the hands of the D-Backs by a score of 5-3, and while every loss is frustrating to watch, this one certainly fit the bill. Atlanta left 12 men on base in the game, including 3 in the final 2 innings, and outside of a 2-run double from Freddie Freeman in the 5th inning, the bats went silent at inopportune times. The most jarring example of this came in the 8th inning, as an untimely error by Arizona SS Didi Gregorius (on a potential double-play ball by Evan Gattis) left the door wide open for the Braves to close a 2-run deficit. Then, after Jordan Schafer lined out softly to right field, Andrelton Simmons smashed a line drive that looked to be a potential run-scoring hit, but it was snared by Paul Goldschmidt to end the threat.
On the run prevention side, things weren’t much prettier for Atlanta. Tim Hudson struggled through 5 innings, allowing 5 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks, but it was yet another game where Hudson couldn’t seem to get a break. He nearly escaped the game-changing 5th inning barrage by Arizona with a clutch 2-seam fastball that struck out Paul Goldschmidt, but former teammate Eric Chavez (the duo played together in Oakland) pushed a Hudson cutter into left-center for a clutch 2-run double, and the damage was done. The unlucky part of the inning, however, was when Cody Ross knocked a seeing-eye single through the infield to extend the lead to 2 runs (at 5-3), and without that insurance run, Fredi Gonzalez could’ve managed the late innings very differently.
At this stage of his career, Hudson is certainly prone to this type of game, as his ability to miss bats is documented, but it seemed to be the rule for the entire road trip, and you’d have to believe that things will level out. On the bright side for Atlanta, Cory Gearrin (who inexplicably faced multiple left-handed batters over 2 innings) and Anthony Varvaro were able to throw 3 scoreless innings, and with a day off on Thursday, the full bullpen should be fresh when the Dodgers arrive.
Offensively, Freddie Freeman (3-for-4, 3 RBI) and Jordan Schafer (2-for-5, 2 runs) had solid games, but it was another struggle from BJ Upton (0-for-5 with 2 Ks) and Juan Francisco took the golden sombrero with 4 strikeouts.
In the end, a 4-6 West Coast swing isn’t a complete disaster, but more of an annoyance, and Wednesday’s performance likely wasn’t indicative of any large-scale issues. It will be interesting to see the post-game reaction from Fredi Gonzalez and company (still to come), but in my estimation, this is a simple case of “on to the next one”. Stay tuned as the Braves welcome the Dodgers to Turner Field on Friday, and ATL All Day will have full coverage going forward.