After a rough series in San Diego, many people (including myself) believed that a little bit of “home cooking” would be the recipe for the Braves to get back on track. Apparently, that recipe will have to wait for another day, as the Braves fell 6-0 to the defending champs on Friday night.
Madison Bumgarner shut down the Braves offense completely, tossing 7 two-hit innings with 10 strikeouts (to just 1 walk) on the night. Bumgarner took a perfect game into the 5th inning before a BJ Upton walk, and both hits generated against him were singles. Simply put, he absolutely mowed through the order, and it is always a telling sign of futility when the pitcher (Kris Medlen) generates the best at-bat of the game during a 10-pitch groundout. Yikes.
In addition to Atlanta’s failures on offense, the night began with the blow of a lead-off home run by former Brave Gregor Blanco, and things didn’t get much better for Atlanta starter, Kris Medlen. Medlen was a victim of repeated two-strike hits, and frankly, his location was dreadful in those situations. All told, Medlen allowed 9 hits and 4 runs over 6 innings, and while he walked 0 batters (always a positive), it wasn’t a particularly positive performance.
When Medlen departed, things didn’t improve much in the way of run prevention, as rookie Alex Wood had his worst professional outing. Wood needed 35 pitches to complete the 7th inning, and he displayed horrid control (3 walks) in allowing 2 runs, the second of which scored on an almost-fitting balk. The rest of the bullpen performed admirably, with Anthony Varvaro and David Carpenter combining for 2 shutout innings to end the game, but the damage was done long before they entered the action.
The biggest news of the night, in the midst of the dreadful on-field result, came off of the field, as it was announced during the game that Brandon Beachy would not return on Tuesday as previously expected. It was assessed as a “minor setback”, but Beachy’s surgically repaired elbow is tender, and that is not what you want to hear about a guy coming off of Tommy John surgery. In the short term, there is no real “decision” to make, but there is real concern about the rotation’s depth if Beachy can’t return in short order.
Four straight losses in June is not the disaster that it may seem to be. However, the Braves looked utterly futile in facing off against the dominant Bumgarner, and that’s the biggest on-field takeaway from the game. Things get a bit easier with Chad Gaudin toeing the rubber on Saturday, but with the loss, the Braves are behind the eight-ball for the second straight series. Stay tuned.