After what looked to be an important and potentially momentum-shifting victory on Wednesday, the Atlanta Braves faced off with the Los Angeles Dodgers in an early afternoon tilt on “getaway” day at Turner Field. Unfortunately, the new-found optimism largely evaporated in less than four hours, as the Braves fell to the Dodgers by a final score of 6-4.
Things got off to an ominous start on Thursday (early) afternoon, as Dee Gordon led off the game with what could have been a harmless bunt single. However, Dee Gordon is extremely fast (this is a well known fact), and he promptly stole second base and advanced to third on an errant throw by Thursday’s catcher, Gerald Laird. That set the stage for Yasiel Puig to bring Gordon home with an RBI single, and it was 1-0 in a hurry.
However, that certainly wasn’t the biggest offensive blow that the Dodgers were able to levy, and that honor was saved for Drew Butera in the second inning. The light-hitting Butera blasted a two-run home run off of Aaron Harang to give Los Angeles a 3-0 lead, and it is a safe bet to assume that every member of Braves Country simultaneously uttered some version of “here we go again” as Butera rounded the bases.
From there, it was an exercise in frustration. Adrian Gonzalez brought home Gordon (after another stolen base) to extend the Dodgers lead to 4-0 in the third, and after a Tommy La Stella RBI groundout put the Braves on the board, it was Gonzalez (again) who erased that bit of momentum with another RBI single to make the score 5-1. That Gonzalez base knock and a walk to Matt Kemp was enough to chase Aaron Harang after just 4.1 innings, but the lion’s share of the damage was done.
Of course, the Braves did just enough to tease the entirety of the fan base, as they provided significant fireworks in the eighth inning. Trailing 5-1, Emilio Bonifacio led off the inning with a single off of always entertaining right-hander Brian Wilson, and that was followed by back-to-back doubles from Freddie Freeman and Justin Upton to close the gap to 5-3 with no outs.
After that barrage, Upton moved to third base on a sacrifice fly (before being pulled for a pinch-runner), and Andrelton Simmons drove that run across with a 2-out RBI single off closer Kenley Jansen to bring Atlanta within one. Unfortunately, Evan Gattis struck out after a marathon at-bat to end the threat, and that was the end of that.
For good measure, Luis Avilan (who isn’t a Major League pitcher right now) allowed two hits and a hit-by-pitch in the first four batters to bring across an insurance run for Los Angeles. On cue, the Braves made a bit of a challenge when Heyward and Freeman reached in the bottom half of the ninth, but Atlanta went quietly into the night on an ill-timed B.J. Upton strikeout.
Frustration was the key phrase of the day at Turner Field, and that began with the work of Aaron Harang on the mound. The big right-hander allowed 7 hits, 3 walks and 5 earned runs through less than 5 innings, and he was frankly impotent for much of his outing. Offensively, the fireworks were encouraging down the stretch, and it was nice to see a productive day from players like Freddie Freeman (3-for-4 with a walk) and Justin Upton (1-for-2, 2 RBI, 2 walks), even in defeat.
Though the Atlanta Braves did manage to avoid a sweep with an important victory on Wednesday night, the loss on Thursday does little to maintain any positive momentum, and the team will be running into a buzzsaw over the weekend as they welcome the Oakland Athletics to town for three games. Alex Wood takes the ball on Friday evening against Oakland’s worst starter, Jason Hammel, but with a growing deficit in the NL East, nothing can be taken for granted.
Tags: Atlanta Braves