Miami Marlins catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia (39) rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run during the seventh inning against the Atlanta Braves at Marlins Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
This trip down to Miami has been an unmitigated pitching disaster for the Atlanta Braves. Yesterday, they were shut out to the tune of a 9-0 final score. Today, they gave up another 9 runs to the pitiful Marlins. I can assure you one thing, the Braves aren’t going to win many games giving up 9 runs.
I’ve been saying it for a while in my Magic Numbers series, but it was only a matter of time before the other shoe dropped on this Atlanta rotation. These guys have been pitching out of their minds for most of April, but the back of the baseball card doesn’t lie. For Aaron Harang, the back of the baseball card for his career is over 4.00 ERA, and that showed up Wednesday night.
Harang gave up 10 hits, 9 runs, 2 homers, a walk, and I think they towed his rental car. It was the worst outing Harang has had since he lost 16-7 against the Cubs in April 2006. He gave up 9 runs that day, but only 6 of them were earned. This was the worst outing by earned runs of his career. His fastball wasn’t moving at all, and he was just tossing flat meatballs out over the plate. The Marlins didn’t miss many of them to their credit. It all came unraveled for Harang in the second inning, The Marlins had three consecutive hits to score the first run. Then, with two runners on and nobody out, Aaron gave up a 3-run homer to Ozuna that broke the game open. Suddenly it was 4-0 Marlins, and the Braves hadn’t scored a run since Sunday against the Reds.
I’m not going to panic about the lack of output by the Braves, but the hitters shouldn’t be struggling to plate runs against the Marlins. The Braves have scored exactly 5 runs in their last 4 games. That’s not a recipe for success, no matter how good the pitching staff is playing. At the end of April, it almost feels like the Braves could have a 5 game lead on the division if the offense was working at all. Instead, their lead is just 2 games over the Mets and Nationals.
Two small consolations stood out from tonight’s downer. First, Jason Heyward had 2 hits. His average is now over .200 for the year at .206. It’s amazing to me that qualifying good news is a guy hitting over the Mendoza line. However, Dan and BJ have conditioned me to be impressed by anything above complete failure. I think I have Braves Stockholm Syndrome. The other good news was Justin Upton hitting another home run. He’s going to finish the month slugging .641, which is gigantic. The April Justin may be the best Justin of them all. I wish we could keep him all year.
The Braves play one more of these games in Miami on Thursday where they hope to avoid the sweep. Somebody just tell Ervin Santana to keep it under 9 runs, and I think they’ll have a better chance.