May 27, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Boston Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. (25) slides safely past Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons (19) in the sixth inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Bullpen stumbles as Atlanta Braves give away late lead in loss to Boston Red Sox

For the Atlanta Braves, it was the same story on a different day. The Braves lost a heartbreaker to the Red Sox on Monday after coughing up a 6-1 lead. In Game 2 on Tuesday, the Braves had a couple of leads, but each time the Red Sox hitters kept clawing back into the game. The worst part of the situation was that Aaron Harang pitched really well, going 6 innings with only 2 runs and giving up 7 hits. He really managed to dance around the damage and keep the Braves in the game. By the time Harang left, he was in line for the win with a 3-2 Braves lead.

However, the game came unglued from that point. Similar to the Monday disaster, one horrific inning sealed the Braves fate. Varvaro came on to relieve Harang in the top of the 7th. After getting the first out, Varvaro allowed two straight singles to put Red Sox at first and second. Fredi Gonzalez opted to bring in Avilan to relieve Varvaro. Avilan’s first hitter was David Ortiz, and Big Papi continued to punish the Braves. Ortiz bloop singled, tying the game at 3. Then another bloop single loaded the bases. Grady Sizemore shattered a bat on a grounder, but it was enough to get a run home to make it 4-3 in favor of the Red Sox.

At this point, everyone in the stadium could tell that Avilan was shell-shocked. He’d given up two bloops and a shattered bat, and the Red Sox hitters were finding holes in the defense. However, Fredi Gonzalez kept him out there for another batter, and it cost the Braves. That would prove to be another managerial mistake, and another Twitter explosion at the manager. Bradley smashed a single to left, scoring Ortiz and Gomes, and Boston extended their lead to 6-3. That was basically the ballgame. I believe mentally the Braves could have survived giving up a one run lead, but those last two add-on runs were completely demoralizing.

Even worse, Andrelton Simmons had to leave the game in the 8th with what was announced as an ankle issue. That compounded the already bad news on Gattis, who apparently hurt his wrist in batting practice. The loss to the Red Sox just added insult to literal injuries. As of now, we don’t have any long-term news on Simmons or Gattis, but I’m hoping it’s something minor that won’t sideline them for very long, and the early returns on Andrelton are somewhat positive.

The main issue for the Braves in this game was a lack of timely hitting and the bullpen implosion. The Braves racked up 10 hits and 4 walks, but they only scored 3 runs. That’s a paltry total for that many base-runners. The Braves went 1-7 with RISP and stranded 9 runners while grounding into 2 double plays. Some hitters were amazing like Justin Upton and Andrelton Simmons, who went a combined 5-for-6 at the plate. Still, the problem was that Heyward, Laird, CJ, Freeman, and Harang all had shots to knock in runs and failed.

The good news on a night like this is that the Braves are hitting the ball. That will eventually work out in their favor. The bad news is that nobody likes giving up leads, and the bullpen has been extremely suspect in this series. We don’t want bullpen troubles to carry over into Boston. The Braves head to Beantown tomorrow to finish off the weird 4 games series with two at home and two away. Maybe Braves Country can make some noise in Boston’s house this time around.

Tags: Atlanta Braves

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