Opposing starting pitcher Edinson Volquez struck out a season-high 9 batters (in 7 innings), and that didn’t even scratch the surface of the maddening fashion in which the Atlanta Braves lost a series-sweeping game to the Padres on Wednesday.
Volquez did befuddle the Braves lineup through those 7 frames, allowing only 6 hits and 1 earned run, but the Braves were plagued by bad fortune throughout the night. For instance, two of the hardest hit balls of the game resulted in huge double plays, as Freddie Freeman rocketed into a rally-killing double play in the 3rd, and Evan Gattis rifled a line drive that resulted in a twin killing in the 6th.
The Braves managed to put 10 hits on the board in the game, but the lineup was plagued by a high strikeout total (13), nine men left on base, and failures in big spots. The most high-profile disappointment of the night came during the last at-bat of the day, as Justin Upton left the bat on his shoulder with 2 men on after Jason Heyward kept the game alive with a lefty-on-lefty base hit. In Upton’s defense, the pitch was visibly off of the plate, but that won’t stop the “strikeout” detractors from yelling from the rooftops about the Braves high-K ways.
On the pitching side, Paul Maholm struggled early, but settled down for the most part. He allowed 3 runs in the first inning despite not allowing a single hard-hit ball (aside from the double play to end the inning, hilariously). The downside to that was that his control failed him, but it was a fairly unlucky display from the lefty in the early going. He righted the ship after that until a Chris Denorfia line-drive home run in the 5th, and after that, Maholm was hung with a 5-run (4 earned) day. David Carpenter and Alex Wood combined for 2.1 hitless innings to end the game, but it wasn’t enough to get the victory.
In the end, this is a one-game loss at the end of a frustrating road trip. It won’t be a regular theme to see this team come up with 10 hits and only 3 runs, and Maholm’s control is certainly not his issue going forward. The stars aligned for a Padres win (and sweep), and these things happen over 162 games. Stay tuned.