That is only word I can think of to describe the Atlanta Braves and their performance in Sunday night’s 13-6 loss to the Dodgers. Weirdly, this was (by far) the best start of any of the 3 games to this point, but things unraveled in a hurry as the Braves fell to a 2-1 deficit in the NLDS.
In the top of the 1st, the Braves opened the scoring with 2 runs, and looked to be well on their way to a positive game. Evan Gattis brought home Justin Upton with a single, and that was followed by a Brian McCann Walk, and a Chris Johnson RBI single that gave Atlanta a 2-0 lead. However, that was the last time the Braves would lead in this one.
LA answered with a 2nd-inning barrage of 4 runs, and that was keyed by a home run by Carl Crawford. Julio Teheran struggled visibly in the first couple of innings with his control, and that was evident during the Crawford at-bat (among others). Following that push to a 4-2 lead from the Dodgers, the Braves did manage to even the score at 4-4 after a couple of fielder’s choices (yes, really) netted two runs with some help from Hyun-Jin Ryu’s defense.
Following that, however, the wheels came off in a significant. Teheran was chased after allowing 2 controversial runs in the 3rd (Hanley Ramirez reached after a 3rd strike call was botched, and Yasiel Puig was gunned down at 2nd base despite mistakenly being called safe), and that unfortunately wasn’t the end of the scoring. Fellow rookie Alex Wood replaced Julio on the bump, and while he retired the first hitter he faced to close out the 3rd frame, things snowballed in the 4th.
The aforementioned Carl Crawford returned to bite the Braves by bunting against Wood, and while it should’ve been a routine out, Wood botched the play, committing an error and allowing Crawford to score. From there, the floodgates were wide open, as Hanley Ramirez followed with a triple despite a more-than-questionable 3rd strike call that went silent, Yasiel Puig brought him home with a single, and Juan Uribe (yes, Juan Uribe) effectively ended the game with a decisive, 2-run home run to lengthen the lead to 10-4.
Frankly, I could go on and on with details after that point, but that was the end for all intensive purposes. The Braves finished the night with 9 hits and 6 runs on the offensive side (thanks to a 2-run home run from Jason Heyward in the top of the 9th), but after letting a few missed opportunities linger in the early going against Ryu, it wasn’t enough to combat the horrendous pitching and defense from the early/middle innings.
If I was assigning blame (aren’t we all?), the majority would likely fall on Julio Teheran, who was plainly subpar (to be kind) throughout the night, finishing with 6 ER on 8 hits through just 2.2 innings. It is certainly true that the game wasn’t over when he left the mound, but the majority of the damage happened on his watch, and it was a significant letdown to see the Braves losing after both starting pitchers were gone. Behind Teheran, the majority of people will likely blame Alex Wood, and they wouldn’t be without merit in doing so. Wood’s failure to field a bunt was his biggest misgiving (somehow), but he also didn’t pitch well, and that doesn’t inspire confidence for his use going forward in potential high-leverage spots.
In an effort to avoid a 1,000-word opus, we’ll stop here. The fate of the 2013 Atlanta Braves rests on the right arm of Freddy Garcia, who was unceremoniously acquired on August 23rd for the always-entertaining “unspecified cash considerations”. That is where we are. I understand that Garcia has been lights-out (somehow) since arriving in Atlanta (1.65 ERA in 27.1 innings), but anyone claiming any level of comfort with this reality is either lying or greatly optimistic with little basis.
It’s not over, but it was about as close to “rock bottom” as possible for a multi-inning stretch on Sunday night, and the Braves are 9 innings from elimination.