Posted: 9:08 am Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Those grim Braves totals: 13 innings, 1 run 

By Mark Bradley

 

Here's proof that the Braves did score a run Monday. (Todd Kirkland/AP)

Here’s proof that the Braves did score a run Monday. (Todd Kirkland/AP)

In a way, it wasn’t that bad a loss: Cole Hamels started for Philadelphia and was superb, which Cole Hamels often is. But Hamels exited after seven innings, meaning that the Atlanta Braves had nearly that long — six innings — to work against five Philly relievers. The Braves managed one run, that on a rally comprised of two bloop hits and a wrong-way ground single. They lost 6-1 to a last-place team, which wound up making it …

A bad loss.

This made twice in three days that the Braves fashioned a tying rally in the ninth only to lose by five in the 13th. Both times the losing pitcher was David Hale. Both times the Braves should have won long before the 13th arrived. On Saturday they were thwarted by a game-saving catch from Kole Calhoun. On Monday they left two runners aboard in every inning from the seventh through the 10th. (The Braves were 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position, a far cry from the 10-for-30 of the series against the Angels.)

Before you ask: No, I wouldn’t have had Tommy La Stella bunt with men on first and second and nobody out in the ninth. I’d have thought about it — he’s a deft bunter — but I’d have done as Fredi Gonzalez did and let him hit. (He’s also a good hitter.) My reasoning would have been the same as the Braves’ manager’s: If La Stella bunts, the Braves probably wind up with one run and head to extra innings. That’s actually what happened, but I don’t mind Fredi G. playing to win.

“I didn’t want to tie the game,” Gonzalez said, speaking early Tuesday morning. “I wanted to take a shot at it.”

La Stella lined a Jonathan Papelbon pitch into the glove of third baseman Reid Brignac. That can happen when you don’t bunt. But if the ball is three feet to Brignac’s left or right the Braves have a tie game with men on first and second and then you can bunt the winning run to third. If you bunt with La Stella, you have second and third with one out, which means Andrelton Simmons gets walked to load the bases, which would have left the game to one of the Braves’ pinch-hitters, who aren’t very good. (We saw as much when Ryan Doumit batted after Simmons’ tying blooper — he struck out. Braves pinch-hitter were 0-for-3 on the night; they’re 16-for-77 on the season.)

Another chance was botched after Freddie Freeman’s one-out triple in the 10th. (Given the way left fielder Domonic Brown misplayed — or didn’t play — the ball, a faster man would have had an inside-the-park home run. Which isn’t to fault Freeman, who fell a home run shy of the cycle Monday.) Evan Gattis was walked intentionally. Justin Upton popped out in foul territory. Chris Johnson struck out, which Chris Johnson has done 68 times in 68 games.

That was the Braves’ last real chance. The Phillies, who entered the game hitting .240 to the Braves’ .244, weren’t knocking down any fences, either. Through 12 innings, their only extra-base hit had been Ryan Howard’s second-inning home run off Julio Teheran, who was great yet again. (In his career, Ryan Howard has 45 homers against the Braves.) It stayed 1-1 long enough to make us wonder if penalty kicks might be needed to settle this, but in the end a mistake did the deed.

Ben Revere walked to open the 13th. He stole second. He advanced to third on Jimmy Rollins’ fly to right. Chase Utley was walked on purpose. That left it to Howard, who — even with his 45 homers versus Atlanta — is always apt to strike out or hit into a double play. The Braves got the grounder they needed, but Freeman saw it skitter between his legs. The error untied the game. The next four runs were window dressing.

It was only yesterday that we wondered, tentatively so, if the Braves’ hitters weren’t starting to hit. They managed 12 hits Monday, albeit to little avail. Said Gonzalez: “We had some opportunities; we didn’t score. We had opportunities with the right people up … We need to get on a little roll, put the ball in the air.”

As was the case last season, the Braves are indeed a different team when they hit the ball over the wall. They’re 26-12 when they hit a home run, 10-21 when they don’t. They’re not very good, to use a Fredi phrase, at keeping the line moving.

“I thought we were going to get it done,” Jason Heyward said. “I thought we were going to get that hit, get that sacrifice fly.”

They got one run. In 13 innings. And lost yet another winnable game. The Braves are 6-19 when they score two or fewer runs, and that’s the story of the season. In 25 of 69 games –  36.3 percent, or more than one in every three — they haven’t managed even three runs. Through 12 innings, two would have been enough to win Game No. 69.

From myajc.com: Gattis to LF, Bethancourt to the bigs? Not just yet.

46 comments
Ersatz
Ersatz

Garbage baseball team with garbage ownership and management.

alpha001
alpha001

Has Wren and company started to regret the knee jerk signing of Chris Johnson now?  He had a fluke year and now he's showing why he was a throw-in to the Upton trade.  At this point BJ needs to be either moved down to 8th or 9th or riding the bench with Uggla.

JSW73
JSW73

Hale needs to be sent down. A lot people go gaga over him. He has gotten by on some luck, and with smoke and mirrors. When you walk as many as you strikeout, odds are good that it will catch up to you. Hale just does not have a go-to pitch when he needs a strike out. Maybe going down and continuing to work on his craft in low pressure situations will allow him to continue perfecting his pitches.

richf71
richf71

Let's face facts: Wren, FG, and BJ aren't going anywhere. 

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Whether or not La Stella would have hit like he has in the #1 or #2 hole is open to speculation, but to this point (1) not having him in the lineup from day 1 was a clear mistake, and (2) batting him seventh is utterly inexplicable. 

Braves lineup still supports three sub-par hitters, Simmons, CJ, and BJ. These guys need to unscramble their brains and hit more consistently. Two of three at least have hope, but they need to mature (develop some plate and pitch selection discipline) and cut down the DPs.

grh0317
grh0317

I thought you were claiming the hitting was back Bradley?

The Braves are one of the weakest teams in baseball and

will finish third or worse in NL east. Any call beyond that is

like calling for UGA as any kind of football champion.

alexander2
alexander2

Braves just lost to a BAD team. B.J. needs to sit. This is a 500 team, Wren has given us that...THANKS.

BigHittas
BigHittas

Quick! Everybody (except LaStella) SWING FOR THE FENCES!!!

That sums up the Braves hitting approach.

MikeS777
MikeS777

This team has maybe 5 guys that are hitting any decent right now, so I could continue to go on about the hitting coaching philosophy in Atlanta.  It stinks and is arguably ruining some careers.  I don't believe for a second that Heyward, Uggla, or BJ Upton couldn't go somewhere else and start hitting again.  Nate McClouth left here batting .190 and .228 to go on and bat .268 and .258 in Baltimore.  He's now at Washington where the bats are ice cold as well, and he's back down to .180.

Some teams know how to prepare hitters and others dont.  The Braves and Nationals are two teams that don't know how to prepare hitters.

As for last night though, the Braves often seem to get shut down by an ace pitcher.  That used to happen even when they could hit well and during the 14 year division title run.  So I really wouldn't read too much into getting shut down by Hamels.  Now if it continues in the series, then worry.

Ficklefan
Ficklefan

But you can't really count on bunts with the Braves either. Schafer can bunt and so can Tehran. The say LaStella can bunt, which is probably true because he is the best all round player (offense and defense) on the team at the moment).  So maybe he should have bunted. But Fredi didnt' "want to go for a tie."  Such bravado, such pride, such aggressiveness. Such bravery you have done.  


But from a manager who needs to do every thing that he possibly can do in nearly every game to squeak out just one run, or maybe two runs, if its a good night . . . it rings more than just a little hollow. My advice to Fredi. If you can tie a game, tie it and then pray for the best, and I mean pray hard because that is what it takes to get one on your team. 


Almost every Brave (and all of them some times) does the deer in the headlights thing when they come to bat with runners on. Never seen anything like it. Get every single stinking run you can beg, borrow, or steal in every game you play, because if the Braves have any hopes of playing beyond game 162, you are going to need every last one of them. 


And don't be telling yourself you will turn this around and start  consistently scoring runs all of a sudden. This problem did not just start. it has been in place for several years now, and it is obviously extremely contagious amongst the Braves' players.  

ComaToes
ComaToes

Range Rover is correct.  The baseball mentality and thought processes of one Mr. MB and Fredi G are very much parallel.  Therefore, the reason the Braves lost the game yesterday and have lost several others in a similar fashion. There were two spots yesterday, 7th and 9th inning, in which a bunt would have,  more than likely, scored at least one run, maybe two, while the odds of what happened were very high.  Properly managed by a manager with baseball savvy there would never have been extra innings yesterday, and a W for the Braves. It is simply amazing the Braves are still in first place.  Any other division and they would not be. The Braves have a losing record since April, and are playing at about a .440 clip.  If the Nats or Marlins get hot, as expected, the Braves will get buried after the All Star break.  If I did not make it clear, the BIGGEST problem the Braves have is the manager,  one Mr. Fredi J. Gonzalez !!!

DNorth
DNorth

The fact of the matter is that this is a .500 team ... they have one hitter who you would consider consistent (Freeman) and just enough pitching to not lose more than they win.  When that one consistent hitter goes into a slump, which even the best of them do, then they lose more than they win.  .500 team.

This actually should have been the case last year, really ... they went on the winning streak in the first couple of weeks which was fueled by J. Upton and then later on another 9 or 10 game streak fueled by Freeman and Heyward's move to the top of the order.  That put them at 23 or so games over .500 ... they finished I believe with 96 wins, which was 30 games over.  So in other words, they played 7 or so games over .500 the rest of the year.

What's happening now?  Basically the same thing without the two extended winning streaks.

BSNBC
BSNBC

Time to make BIG changes!

RangeRover
RangeRover

Mark,

You and that dimwit of a manager are dead wrong!  The intelligent and logical call is a bunt by LaStella.  If you only have one man on then you'd be playing for a tie.  But with runners at 2nd & 3rd with one out that gives you at least two shots at a base hit to win the game,

Dumbest manager in all of MLB.

Mr. Negative
Mr. Negative

Norb Hecker?? Now you're bringin back one of Mr Negative's favorites  1966 baby. Later,. As I watched Danny White throw that TD pass in 1980, I was firing up my grill. Much like I do every post season these days. HAAAAHAAAA  Mr. Negative was drinking KoolAid yesterday. Back to th hard stuff!!


gfw
gfw

One of the best articles you've written, Mark.  You nailed it (them?).

BTW, no complaints about La Stella: he made good contact and hit the ball really hard in a clutch situation.  Not much more you can ask than that.

DrPhill
DrPhill

Domonic Brown's lollygag looked very much like that of our own gum-chomping Bossman. Brown should have been pulled and forced to run laps after the game. He tried to give the game to the Braves at that point, but we wouldn't take it.  I don't recall such overwhelming  public negativity toward an Atlanta team in years, going back to Norb Hecker and the Smith family. Even Michael Vick had his supporters. Certainly Wren, Fredi, and BJ don't read the advice and personal attacks that flood these blogs, but the market- analysis crunchers at Liberty Media should. Their Disney-like world of baseball will be playing to empty stands if they don't put a competitive experience on the field.  Braves' fans don't have the patience and perseverance of those poor Cubbies followers in Chicago. My advice is, bring Bobby back as GM and allow him to pick a manager.  Fredi may be a good third base coach, but he will never make it as a manager. Although I no longer live in Atlanta, I usually catch several games a season.  Not this year.

stripesofzebra
stripesofzebra

Hale in the 13th inning means time to go to bed here of late.

Born2Buzz
Born2Buzz

When your 1st and 2nd hitters go 1-11 with 6 strikeouts the team will struggle to score.  Why Freddie keeps running BJ out there in the #2 slot baffles me.


And explain again why Woods got sent down to AAA and Hale is still on the roster?  I guess someone has to come into the games late and give up multiple runs.


But through all of this, the team is still in 1st place.  Go figure.

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

This team ( and now David Hale...YUCK....he is off the wagon, he does not belong as a long man; gosh he continues to STINK it up) STINKS!!!!! 

sarfdawg
sarfdawg

You have to bunt La Stella in the ninth if for no other reason than to stay out of the double play. So what if Simmons is walked? Bases loaded is a lot more pressure on a volatile idiot like Papelbon than first and second with one out. If that's J. Upton, Gattis, or Freeman, I kind of get it. Bottom of the order, you have to bunt. Just dumb baseball otherwise.

jackbmatt
jackbmatt

Simmons is the best ss in baseball. He's not being paid to hit.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

@MikeS777 Heyward aside, you SERIOUSLY believe Uggla and BJ could go somewhere else and hit better? BJ maybe, eventually, because mentally he's a mess, but if it weren't for Dan's contract his playing career would likely be over.

ComaToes
ComaToes

@MikeS777 Not only by "ace pitchers" but also by those who are making their first MLB start, or those who have huge ERAs and no wins, as we witnessed just recently.  Happened twice in the last week.  One pitcher who beat the Braves was 0-6 and had a huge ERA(forgot his name now), but those type pitchers always give the Braves fits it seems.  ATL has most of their success against midde-of-the-pack, just average pitchers, who have been around for awhile.

Waredawg
Waredawg

@DNorth 

Actually, it's worse than you stated. Last year I posted that the Braves record was a result of the two winning streaks you referenced, plus an additional streak of six games. For the entire rest of the year they were either 1 game over or 1 game under I don't remember which) . They were extremely lucky last year, and are not as good this year. Absent the hot start, playing about .450 ball since.

May be fortunate to finish the year at .500, without major changes, firing Freddi, benching BJ, and a  major trade or two.

ComaToes
ComaToes

@DNorth Sorry, the Braves have not been a .500 team since April, therefore they are extremely lucky !

goblue86
goblue86

@RangeRover Spot-on, dude.  Two chances to win AND takes the double play out of the picture.

Wilbo
Wilbo

@DrPhill Good God, man! The drunken wifebeater Booby Cox presided over the most impotent span of postseason futility ever in American professional sport and you want to bring him back? Not no, but HELL NO!!!!!!!!!

Doktor13
Doktor13

@DrPhill As much as the Atlanta fan base would like to believe, Bobby Cox is NOT the Answer or is he gonna help this situation, as he's already had his hands DIRECTLY in this mix... it's HIS 'culture' that was established and now has to be removed... it's a CANCER among these kids... 


I feel for the players, because some of these guys have some real talent. But typically, careers are being destroyed because some executives don't have the f*cking ballz to 'man up' and make the HARD decisions REQUIRED to move forward properly...


CLANG CLANG CLANG goes the Trolley... {SMFH}

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

@Born2Buzz "And explain again why Woods got sent down to AAA and Hale is still on the roster?"

Because a starter is about to be traded?

ComaToes
ComaToes

@sarfdawg Absolutely.  Believe Fredi G is anti-bunt, sits and waits for the HR or double, therefore giving more odds that the DP will happen, either by grounder or line out.  Almost every game FG shows his weak spots !