Braves vs. Rays Sereis Wrap

Words cannot describe the frustration of a series like this. Atlanta could have – and should have – won the entire series. Instead, with the help of their bullpen, they blew two of the games and only won one. The Braves’ starting pitching was good in this series, so was their offense; but not the bullpen. With the trade deadline coming up, I’m sure that Atlanta’s front office will be looking for some bullpen help.

Game One: Charlie Morton vs. Michael Wacha, Braves lost 7-6

Charlie Morton did not pitch a bad game at all. Like usual, it was the bullpen that blew the game. Morton went six innings, allowed six hits, three runs, three walks, and he had eight strikeouts.

Tampa Bay started the scoring in the top of the second inning where they scored two runs. They maintained that 2-0 lead until the bottom of the fourth inning in which the Braves hit two home runs. One was a two-run shot by Austin Riley that allowed my Ozzie to score and tie the game at two apiece. The other one was a solo shot by Dansby Swanson to give Atlanta the lead 3-2.

The Rays’ first baseman, Ji-Man Choi, tied the game with a solo home run in the top of the fifth. However, Atlanta’s offense was having none of that. Freddie Freeman hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth to give the Braves a 5-3 lead.

The Rays got one run closer in the top of the seventh on a sac fly by Austin Meadows to make it 5-4. However, just like in the fifth inning, the Braves came right back and scored yet another run. This time it was on an RBI single by Orlando Arcia that scored Freeman and extended Atlanta’s lead to 6-4.

Although the Braves had a decent lead, their bullpen blew it. In the top of the eighth inning, Chris Martin was pitching for the Braves. He gave up two RBI singles to tie the game at six apiece. Martin has, for the most part, been lights out for Atlanta this season. However, he did not have his best stuff and ultimately blew the game for the Braves. The game went into extra innings, and Jesse Chavez wasn’t able to keep the tie; he allowed the Rays to score, making it a 7-6 loss for Atlanta.

Game Two: Max Fried vs. Josh Fleming, Braves won 9-0

Everything went right for the Braves in this game. Starting and bullpen pitching were excellent, defensively they were without error, and offensively they were working on all cylinders. Atlanta has games like this one scattered about this season, but unfortunately they haven’t been consistent with them.

Max Fried pitched excellent for the Braves. He went seven innings, allowed only four hits, ZERO runs, one walk, and he had seven strikeouts. Fried’s stuff was very good. He had great control over where his pitches were going, how deep his counts got towards the hitters he was facing, and everything in between. Not to mention… Max was 3-for-three at the plate! He had two singles and a two-RBI double. WOW! He was very impressive all around in this game for Atlanta!

The Atlanta Braves broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the fourth inning. Freddie Freeman led off that inning with a first-pitch single, and then my man Ozzie Albies had an RBI double that scored Freeman. After that, Ozzie advanced to third on a fielding error by the Rays’ center fielder. Austin Riley then scored Ozzie with a sac fly to make the score 2-0 Braves. Orland Arcia had a ground out to make the second out of inning. Guillermo Heredia kept the inning alive and then Tampa Bay’s starting pitcher, Josh Fleming intentionally walked Braves catcher Kevan Smith to get to Max Fried (who was 1-for-1 with a single). Guess what Max did?!? He had a two-RBI double that scored Heredia and Smith making it a 4-0 game. And then, to add the final blow of that inning, Joc Pederson hit a two-run dinger making it 6-0, all Atlanta!

To add onto their lead, Freddie Freeman hit a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth to make it 7-0. And in the bottom of the sixth inning, Dansby Swanson had an RBI double that scored Kevan Smith and advanced Max Fried to third, making it 8-0. Then, to score the final run, Freeman had a sac fly to score Fried from third base.

From that point on, Atlanta’s pitching was lights-out and preserved a 9-0 shut out!

Game Three: Drew Smyly vs. Rich Hills, Braves lost 7-5

I can’t tell you how disappointing games like this one are. Atlanta should have won. There’s no going around it. They had the lead almost the entire game. Their starting pitch was good, and they provided multiple runs. But the Braves’ bullpen is so unstable, it’s just frustrating. Brian Snitker brought their least reliable bullpen pitcher onto pitch, A.J. Minter. And Minter did nothing good for the Braves, but instead he gave up the lead… and the game.

Drew Smyly did not pitch a bad game for the Atlanta Braves. He went 5.2 innings, allowed four hits, three runs, two walks and he had six strikeouts. Overall, his stuff wasn’t bad, he just misplaced a couple of pitches and the Rays didn’t miss them.

The Braves got off to a good start. In the bottom of the first inning, my man, Ozzie Albies had an RBI double that scored Freddie Freeman making it 1-0 Atlanta.

Atlanta scored two more in the bottom of the fourth inning. One on an RBI double by Guillermo Heredia that scored Orlando Arcia, and the other on an RBI groundout to make it 3-0 Braves.

In the fifth and sixth innings, Tampa Bay came on and tied the game at three apiece.

Joc Pederson broke the tie in the bottom of the sixth inning when he had an RBI double that scored Braves’ catcher Stephen Vogt, making it 5-4, Atlanta back on top.

However, in the top of the seventh inning, A.J. Minter blew the game for the Braves. He allowed three runs, giving the Rays the lead.

Atlanta got one run closer in the bottom of the seventh when Stephen Vogt had an RBI single to score Freeman. However, the Braves couldn’t pull anything else off, so the final score remained at 7-5, Rays.

Overall, this was a frustrating series for our Atlanta Braves. They should have won the entire series… definitely game three, but as we saw, bad relief pitching will take away a win in a heartbeat.

** After game three of this series A.J. Minter was sent down to Triple-A Gwinnett. Hopefully he will learn how to pitch well again and become a key asset in the Braves bullpen.

Braves vs. Pirates Series Wrap

Well, I think it’s safe to say, this series did not go anything like we expected – or how it should have gone. The Braves lost the first two games, and won the third. If they had swept the Pittsburg Pirates they would have had a winning record. Atlanta now has to win two games against the Marlins to have a 44-44 record, or if they sweep the Fish, they will have a winning record going into the All-Star break.

Game One: Max Fried vs. Chase De Jong, Braves lost 11-1

Max Fried did not have is best outing. I mean he did hit a walk-off the day before, but still. He pitched five innings, allowed seven hits, six runs, two walks, and he had five strikeouts. The first four innings he pitched weren’t bad, he just ran into trouble in the fifth and couldn’t get himself out of it.

Fried’s underwhelming outing left the rest of game one in the hands of Atlanta’s shaky bullpen. Josh Tomlin came out of the bullpen for the Braves in the seventh inning and gave up five more runs to give the Pirates a grand total of eleven runs. Tomlin has not had that great of a season so far for Atlanta. Normally he is lights-out and can go multiple innings, but this year he is having trouble completing one inning without giving up a least one run.

The Braves did score one run – they actually scored it in the top of the first inning! Ronald Acuña Jr. lead off the game with a single, and then Freddie Freeman drove him in with a double. The Pirates right fielder, Phillip Evans, couldn’t pick up the baseball and make the throw to attempt to keep Acuña from scoring. I’m not entirely sure if Acuña would have scored if Evans hadn’t made an error – but we’ll never know.

Game Two: Ian Anderson vs. Chad Kuhl, Braves lost 2-1

Ian Anderson did not pitch a bad game at all. He only went five innings, but he had a high pitch count of 91 pitches – so I’m assuming that’s why Snitker took him out. In those five innings he pitched, he gave up five hits, one run, three walks, and had four strikeouts. So, overall, it really wasn’t a bad outing; he just threw a lot of pitches.

The Braves scored their one and only run in the top of the fifth inning on a solo home run by our left fielder, Orlando Arcia. He hit that baseball a long way into the seats in left center field, getting the Braves on the board.

Up till the ninth inning, Atlanta’s pitching was great. Both the starting pitcher and the relief pitchers were able to keep it a tie game at 1-1.

However, it’s baseball. And someone is bound to win one way or another. In the bottom ninth inning, Tyler Maztek was sent onto the mound for the Braves to send them into extra innings. That did NOT happen. Maztek walked the first batter he faced, gave up a single to the next, and another walk to load the bases with Pirates. There was no one out. At this point you knew that Pittsburg was going to win, and sure enough they did. With a four pitch, bases-loaded walk, to Bryan Reynolds the Pirates won the game 2-1. Out of all the ways that the Braves could have allowed the Pirates to walk it off, a bases-loaded walk is the worst. They didn’t even have to work for their win. All they had to do was stand at the plate, with a bat in their hands, and watch the balls go into the dirt.

Game Three: Drew Smyly vs. Wil Crowe, Braves won 14-3

Finally. The Braves won, and they beat out some anger against the Pirates. All throughout this 2021 season, the Braves haven’t clicked on all cylinders. Some days pitching is great and the offense isn’t – or vise versa. In this game, the pitching AND the offense were great for Atlanta, and the result of that was even better: a Braves win! One thing to note before we dive into this Braves win – Ozzie Albies was taken out of this game after popping out in the top of the fifth inning. Nothing is seriously wrong with him, (thank goodness!). Brian Snitker took him out of the game as a precaution because he was dealing with neck tightness. Obviously, knowing the type of player my Ozzie is, he did not want to be taken out of that game. But, in the end, he was taken out to play it safe and not risk him getting seriously hurt and have to miss more than just a game or two. And, of course, Ozzie has to be healthy for his All Star appearance next week!

Drew Smyly didn’t have his best outing for the Braves, but it wasn’t awful; he still got the win. Smyly went five innings, allowed nine hits, three runs, three walks, and he had four strikeouts. The three runs he gave up, which were the only three runs the Pirates scored, came in the bottom of the first inning on a three-run home run by Jacob Stallings. Other than that he, and the Atlanta Braves bullpen for that matter, were lights out.

The Braves scored their first run on an RBI single by Austin Riley. He scored Ozzie Albies who had a hustle double before him. Going into the third inning, the Braves are down 3-1. Ronald Acuña Jr. brought Atlanta one run closer when he belted a solo home run into left center field, making it a 3-2 game.

To start off the sixth inning for Atlanta, Dansby Swanson led off with a walk. He stole second base and then Guillermo Heredia followed him with a walk. The Braves newly acquired catcher, Jonathan Lucroy had a sacrifice bunt to advance Swanson to third and Heredia to second. On the very next pitch of the ballgame, Abraham Almonte, fresh off the bench, hit a two-RBI single, giving the Braves the lead at 4-3. Almonte’s base hit brought Acuña up, with one out. He had a single, which was followed by a groundout by Freeman to make the second out. Then, to load the bases with Braves, Ehire Adrianza walked. Adrianza was in brought in the game to fill in for Ozzie. So, with the bases loaded, Austin Riley was up. He walked, which allowed Swanson to score, extending their lead to 5-3. Orlando Arcia extended the Braves lead again with a two-RBI single, making it 7-3 all Atlanta.

The Atlanta Braves added their final offensive blow on the Pirates in the top of the eighth inning. To lead off the inning, Adrianza had a single. Austin Riley followed him with a lineout. So, with one out, Ender Inciarte was up to bat. He had an RBI double to score Adrianza and make it 8-3. Dansby scored Ender with an RBI double, making it 9-3. Heredia had a groundout to make the second out. Jonathan Lucroy kept the Braves alive with a RBI single which scored Swanson and made it 10-3 Atlanta. To make it 12-3 Braves, Abraham Almonte hit a two-run homer. And then, to score the FINAL two Atlanta runs, Ehire Adrianza had a two-RBI double, that scored Acuña and Freeman who both reached base on singles their previous at-bats. That made it 14-3, all Braves!

Things have still been scattered for the Atlanta Braves this 2021 season. They are going to have to figure things out soon, or they aren’t going to have a very enjoyable rest of the season.

Braves vs. Red Sox Series Wrap

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.