May 1, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Ian Thomas (left) is taken out of the game by manager Fredi Gonzalez (right) during the seventh inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Braves swept by Miami Marlins

The Atlanta Braves chased a rare goal in Game 3 of the series against the Marlins: playing to avoid the sweep. Coming off the great series sweep against the Reds, this series has been a complete 180 in the wrong direction. With Ervin Santana on the mound, the hope was that Atlanta would be able to stop the bleeding of the other 9 run disasters. In that regard, Santana did his job. In regards to setting up a chance to win, it was the bullpen that really dropped the ball.

The game took a turn in the first inning when Santana allowed a two-out RBI double that gave the Marlins a 1-0 lead. Then in the second inning, Santana gave up a leadoff homer to make it 2-0. At that point, I certainly felt like we were going to see more of the same in this series. However, BJ Upton turned the tides in the 3rd when he jacked a 3-run homer into the left field stands. The key factor in that homer was Jason Heyward getting to first base safely on a replay view. That meant the Braves had two runners instead of just one since Heyward was originally called out. In the old system, the game would have been tied.

Still, the Marlins have been pesky over these three games, and they rake at home right now. In the fourth, the fish tied the game at 3 with a grounder that got in the runner from third. Gattis came right back with the big stick in the 6th inning, and bombed a solo homer to left. With a late 4-3 lead, Santana came out of the game, and it was up to the bullpen to hold serve. They weren’t up to the task, unfortunately. Ian Thomas came on in the 7th and allowed back-to-back hits to the fish. Then, Carpenter came in to replace Thomas, and he couldn’t put out the fire. Two straight singles scored the tying and leading runs, giving Santana a no-decision, and giving the Braves a loss.

Atlanta had a great shot to tie the game in the 8th when Justin Upton hit a lead-off double. For those of you who follow my brand of insanity, that’s an RISP situation. The Braves are terrible in RISP situations. Today was no different. Two straight hitters couldn’t even move the runner to third. Then, when the Marlins bullpen walked the bases loaded with two outs, Pena eventually struck out to kill the rally. Something can happen if you put the ball in play there, but the K was just the icing on a big failcake. It’s depressing to watch the team struggle in situations that aren’t home runs. I can tell you this with certainty, you can’t win championships on just the long ball. You have to be able to manufacture runs against good pitching late in games. The Braves are failing to do that early in the season again.

So the Braves get swept by the Marlins in Miami for the first time since 2006. On paper it looks terrible, but the Marlins are a really solid home team this season. In fact, they have the best home record in baseball. I wouldn’t be shocked to see them dominate a lot of teams in that lime green cavern this year. Their hitting approach seems totally different than prior years, and I think they are taking advantage of the oddities of that large park.

The good news is that this series is over, and the Braves come home to play the Giants tomorrow. Mike Minor takes on Tim Lincecum. I’ll be there, and I hope you will be too.

Tags: Atlanta Braves

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