Too little too late.
The Braves made a furious 9th inning rally to cut a 5-1 lead down to 5-4 and had the winning run on first base, but they would get no closer. Justin Upton mashed a 3 run home run off Jonathan Papelbon following infield singles from Elliot Johnson and Jose Constanza to cut the lead down to 1. After the Upton homer, Freddie Freeman singled and Evan Gattis worked a walk before Chris Johnson grounded out deep in the whole on a tremendous play by Jimmy Rollins to end the game.
After the game there was an incident in the dugout between Chris Johnson and Terry Pendleton. Johnson, frustrated by making the last out tossed his helmet and it inadvertently hit Pendleton. Pendleton then proceeded to grab Johnson by the neck of his jersey and lay into him. It was a frustrating night all around and I’m sure that is all it was, but I am not a fan of a coach getting physical with a player like that, especially out in the open for everyone to see. Braves fans are already on edge enough about their teams’ performance lately, they didn’t need this incident to stoke the fires.
It was just a bad game all around for the Braves tonight. The defense was sub-par, committing 3 errors. The offense put runners on, but grounded into 3 double plays and couldn’t hit with runners in scoring position. The pitching got off to a bad start with more of Mike Minor’s first inning troubles, and a bad finish with some less than stellar pitching by the pen, which was not helped.
The loss dropped the Braves a game behind the Cardinals for the best record in the Nationals League. Not only does it take away home field for the NLCS, it changes the first round opponent from the Reds/Pirates to the Dodgers. Not that the Dodgers are unbeatable, but no one wants to face their pitching in a short series.
Mike Minor put up what has become a pretty typical start for him lately. He gave up 2 first inning runs, then proceeded to shut the Phillies out over the next 5 innings. Minor has allowed runs in the 1st inning of his last 4 starts and has had 1st inning issues the entire season. The start did turn out to be another good one from Minor though, as he finished 6 innings, only allowing those 2 first inning runs.
Justin Upton had a great game, going 4-5 including the clutch 3 run bomb in the 9th. Jason Heyward continued his recent hot streak going 1-3 and walking twice and Freddie Freeman was his usual hitting self, going 2-4 and raising his season average up to .319.
Heading into Game 162 tomorrow the Braves will need to beat the Phillies and also get some help from the Cubs to still get the #1 seed in the NL. I have a good feeling that Teheran will be able to shut down the Phils, but the Cubs haven’t been able to put up much of a fight in their first 2 games of the series against St. Louis.