Nobody is happy right now with the way the Atlanta Braves are playing baseball. It’s even worse when the Braves lose games after they had a lead. I’ll give Mike Minor a lot of credit, I said before this game started that he was pitching for his job in the rotation.
Mike didn’t pitch badly, going into the seventh inning and allowing three runs. I’m not going to gush over the great job he did, but that should be enough to let us see another start out of the kid. Perhaps Minor can start to turn the ship around and get back some modicum of the form he had last year.
Still, giving up three runs the way this team is hitting might as well by ten runs. The Dodgers opened the scoring with an RBI single to right that made it 1-0 LA in the second inning. The Braves battled back in the third inning with a weird Justin Upton bloop into left center. Yasil Puig chased the ball down on a dive, but it went off his glove and kicked away from the other outfielders. That gave Tommy La Stella, who was sitting on first, enough time to motor all the way around the bases. To top off the weird scoring, B.J. Upton jacked a shot into the left field stands in the fourth inning, and the Braves were up 2-1.
But like all nice things in Braves country this year, they come to an end quickly. The next inning Mike Minor gave up a lead off single to the pitcher (I know, I know, I facepalmed as well) which started the rally. A double by Carl Crawford put runners at second and third. Puig knocked in the first runner with a grounder to third, and then Matt Kemp put a dagger in Braves fans’ hearts with a ridiculous bloop single over second base. Just like that, the Dodgers were back in the lead 3-2.
If you took a poll of everyone watching that game, I think at least 90% of them would say the game was over at that point, which is sad since it happened in the fifth inning. There’s an unspoken (and sometimes spoken) bond amongst Braves fans everywhere that this team is finished. You can sense it on Twitter, in the stands, and in the broadcasts. The team just isn’t hitting enough to give up a lead, take a lead back on some good luck, and then let that lead slip away again. When a team is in a slump, they need to get a lead and hold a lead. It’s the holding that’s important. Ask Jerry Seinfeld.
Frankly, I didn’t expect to win a game Minor was pitching. However, I feel like the Braves let this one go since Minor was not anywhere near as terrible as he’s been in prior games. The average team in the NL scores four runs a game. The Braves should be able to win a game where the other team scores three runs. Unfortunately, the Braves are so far below average at hitting the ball, those kinds of pitching performances are wasted.
It didn’t matter anyway since the Braves gave up one of the most absurd runs in the ninth inning that I’ve seen this year. Emilio Bonafacio literally missed one of the easiest ground balls to him that you’re likely to see, putting a runner on second with an error since he was hustling. Then after a grounder moved him to third, David Hale threw a wild pitch in the dirt that got away from Gattis, and the runner scored. The Dodgers literally scored a run with no hits, and no walks. I mean at this point just play Send in the Clowns when the Braves take the field. I’ve considered taking up Tai-Chi just so I can have the mental stamina to watch Braves games.
So at the end of the day, the Braves have started another losing streak with the Dodgers. Actually, they’ve just extended their losing streak to the Dodgers to five games now. This is the type of loss that really scares me, because you can’t blame it on untimely hitting. You can’t blame it on bad pitching. The only thing you can blame it on is that the Braves aren’t hitting the ball, period. That kind of thing is the hardest to fix, and the division is slipping away unless the team can find some offense fast. Will it happen tomorrow? It had better. Stay tuned.