This is certainly not how anyone expected this series to turn out. The Braves were swept by the Red Sox in a two game series… they lost both games with the same final score. And what’s even crazier is that both of the final runs scored for Atlanta were in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Game One: Tucker Davidson vs. Eduardo Rodriguez, Braves lost 10-8
Tucker Davidson did not have a great start to this game, and in the 2.1 innings he pitched he gave up five hits, five runs and one walk. He did have four strikeouts. Sometime after Davidson was taken out of the game, the Braves staff released information concerning him: Tucker Davidson was headed to the Injured List with a left forearm strain. I’m in no way making excuses for his underwhelming outing, but if I was a left handed pitcher with a hurt throwing arm… I don’t think I’d do very well.
With those five runs allowed in just the first two innings, the Braves had a long way to go to try and come back. The Braves scored one in the bottom of the third on an RBI single by Freddie Freeman to get the Braves on the board. They added onto their scoring in the bottom of the fourth inning: they scored one on an RBI double by Abraham Almonte that scored Dansby Swanson. Then they scored two more on a two-RBI double by Ronald Acuña Jr, which scored Almonte and Ehire Adrianza, making it a 5-4 game.
However, Boston came right back and scored two more in the top of the fifth inning give them an extended lead of 7-4.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Braves had an offense spark that took advantage of miscues by the Red Sox defense. The Sox committed three errors in this game… all three came in the sixth inning. Boston failed to complete a fielders choice which allowed to Braves baserunners to be on the base pads, with no one out. Following that error, Guillermo Heredia had an RBI single to make it a 7-5 game. He advanced to second on another throwing error by the Rex Sox. Once again the Braves scored another unearned run on a passed ball, to make it a 7-6 game. To add on to the Red Sox embarrassing defense of the inning, Freddie Freeman had a sac fly to tie the game at 7 apiece.
After all the work the Braves did, taking advantage of the Red Sox defense to tie the game, Atlanta’s bullpen blew it late. In the top of the eighth inning, Chris Martin gave up a three run home run to Alex Verdugo to give Boston the lead again at 10-7.
The Braved tried to make a comeback in the bottom of the ninth. They scored one in the bottom of the ninth on an RBI single by Austin Riley to make it 10-8, but Atlanta’s offense couldn’t give anything else, which lead to a Red Sox win.
Game Two: Ian Anderson vs. Garrett Richards, Braves lost 10-8… I was at this game!!
This game was a rollercoaster, to say the least. Scoring, for both teams, was all over the place and you never knew what was going to happen at any given moment… no lead felt safe enough.
Ian Anderson pitched okay for the Braves. Despite his early inning struggles, he was able to keep the game under control. He only went four inning, gave up seven hits, four runs, only one walk, and he struck out a total of five Red Sox. Another thing that was promising about this start for him was that he did not give up a single home run. He kept the ball on the ground, not in the air.
The Red Sox scored two in the bottom of the first inning on an RBI double by Hunter Renfroe. In the bottom of the third inning, the Braves got one of those runs back on a sac fly by Abraham Almonte, which scored Freddie Freeman and made it a 2-1 game, with Boston on top.
Immediately after the Braves got one run on the board, Boston came right back and scored two in the top of the fourth going them a 4-1 lead. However, being the rollercoaster game it was, in the bottom of the fourth inning, the Braves came ever closer to the Red Sox.
Atlanta started the bottom of that inning with a triple by Dansby Swanson. (That was very exciting to watch in person!) His triple was followed by a strikeout of Braves catcher Kevan Smith. With one out, Guillermo Heredia was up to bat. After working a 2-2 count, he was plunked by a pitch and took first base. Brian Snitker put Ender Inciarte into the game as a pinch hitter for Anderson. He grounded out, but his groundout allowed Swanson to score and advanced Heredia to second base, making it 4-2. Boston’s pitcher had already hit one Braves batter in this inning, and then he also hit Ronald Acuña Jr. Acuña wasn’t very happy about being hit… understandable. However, he didn’t seek a fight and slowly took first base. Freeman scored the final Braves run of this inning with an RBI single that scored Heredia, and put the Braves right back in this game with a score of 4-3.
The Red Sox scored two more runs in the top of the sixth inning, making it a 6-3 game.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, things started to look real good for the Braves. Abraham Almonte had a double to start the game. Austin Riley followed him, reaching base on a fielding error by Red Sox shortstop. Then, Dansby Swanson was up to bat with two men on and NO ONE out. After working a 2-2 count he crushed the baseball into the left field seats for a game-tying three run dinger. Now that was fun to witness in person! The score is now 6-6. Freddie Freeman wasn’t satisfied with a tied score… so he took matters into his own hands. In the bottom of the sixth inning, he hit an opposite field, solo home run to make it a 7-6 game, Braves on top.
Alright, here is where things got frustrating. Braves now had the lead, a tight lead at that. Shane Greene comes on to pitch the seventh inning for Atlanta. He gives up a lead off double, followed by a walk and a strikeout. There’s one out and two men on, he gives up another walk to load the bases, and then gets another strikeout to make the second out. Boston’s coaching staff decided to bring on a left-handed pinch-hitter on to face righty pitcher Shane Greene with the bases loaded. So, Braves manager, Brian Snitker, decides to go deeper into his unstable bullpen. He brings on lefty A.J. Minter. Since Snitker brought on a left-handed pitcher, Boston decided to change their pinch-hitter to a right-handed one. After all those changes the game resumed. All Minter had to do was get one out. After getting Christian Arroyo (the pinch-hitter) to a 1-2 count, Minter hung a breaking ball down and over the plate. Arroyo was all over that pitch and hit out of the ballpark for a grand slam. Game score was now 10-7.
The Braves got, once again, one run closer in the bottom of the ninth inning. But after some really bad base running by Acuña to make the second out of the inning, Freeman struck out to end the game.
We all know it… the Braves bullpen this year isn’t that good. Luke Jackson is our only reliable pitcher. Will Smith is getting better, Tyler Matzek has his moments, as does Chris Martin, but other than that the bullpen isn’t great — and they definitely aren’t consistent. I don’t mean to sound rude in any way, but I think A.J. Minter is our worst bullpen pitcher so far this season. He has done things like he did in this game all throughout the season. His one job is to come and get one out, but instead he gives up multiple runs to the other team.
While I’m critiquing the bullpen… I have to include Braves manager Brian Snitker into this as well. Yes, I know, he is not a bullpen pitcher, but he is manager over the whole Braves team. That includes the bullpen. I get what he was trying to do, taking Greene out so it could be a lefty on lefty matchup, but he should have known that the Red Sox coaching staff would have enough common sense to swap pinch-hitters… and that’s exactly what they did!
Both Atlanta’s bullpen pitchers and who’s in control over the bullpen have some things to work out. They need to do it soon, otherwise it’s going to be an even harder season for our Atlanta Braves.