For the Braves, a good night at a needed time

Lyle Overbay, shutdown reliever. (John Bazemore/AP)

Lyle Overbay, shutdown reliever. (John Bazemore/AP)

Lyle Overbay, shutdown reliever. (John Bazemore/AP)

Lyle Overbay, shutdown reliever. (John Bazemore/AP)

On the other hand, a night like Monday can go a ways toward making a frustrated team feel better about itself. The Atlanta Braves opened a four-game series at Turner Field against an opponent much like themselves — the first-place Milwaukee Brewers have pitched very well but hit less well — and the home team didn’t suffer from the side-by-side comparison. The Braves mustered 15 hits and nine runs and reduced the Brewers to deputizing Lyle Overbay, a 37-year-old first baseman, for his major-league pitching debut.

Further indignity: Overbay was Milwaukee’s most impressive pitcher of the night.

This isn’t to say the Braves cruised. Being the Braves, they invented ways not to score. Chris Johnson hit into a double play to end the first. Mike Minor couldn’t get a bunt down in the second. Jason Heyward was thrown out at the plate in the fourth. Ramiro Pena struck out with two men aboard in the fifth. The Braves left 10 runners through seven innings, and half of their first four runs were unearned. (Milwaukee catcher Martin Maldonado had a horrid game, slinging the ball into left field in the first inning and being called for catcher’s interference against Justin Upton in the sixth.)

As much as the Braves had hit, their lead was only 4-3 in the bottom of the eight, whereupon the Brewers summoned Wei-Chung Wang, who held an ERA of 12.86 and who’s on the roster only because he’s a Rule 5 acquisition and must either be kept on the major-league squad or waived. I’m sure I’ve seen worse innings pitched — I’ve been covering sports for a while now — but none spring to mind.

Wang yielded a leadoff homer to Ryan Doumit, who hadn’t hit a homer as a Brave, on an 83-mph breaking ball that didn’t break. Then he plunked Heyward, who went 3-for-4 and who reached base four times. Then he yielded an opposite-field homer to Justin Upton. Now it was 7-3 and the game was gone. Wang, alas, was not. He would throw 40 pitches and record two outs. (Somehow Freddie Freeman and Johnson whiffed.) Wang’s ERA rose to 17.61.

Credit the Braves for making a lousy pitcher look lousy. (Heaven knows they’ve made enough lousy pitchers look decent.) But it was kind of funny when Overbay entered and, throwing 79-mph something-or-others, needed only six pitches to induce a Doumit popup and end the inning.

An hour or so later, the Braves’ division lead would increase to  1 1/2 games when Washington lost in 15 innings to Cincinnati. It was a game the Nationals should have won. They’d rallied in the ninth against the famous Aroldis Chapman only to watch first Brandon Phillips and then Billy Hamilton make astonishing catches in extra innings to prolong the affair, and just before Hamilton dove to snag Anthony Rendon’s apparent game-winning liner the Nats were undone by their own tactics

Matt Williams is in his first season as Nats manager after replacing Davey Johnson, and the freshman hasn’t been overly impressive. Kevin Frandsen led off the bottom of the 14th with a double down the left-field line. The pitcher’s spot was due. Williams could have used a starting pitcher to pinch-hit and bunt Frandsen to third. Instead he deployed backup catcher Jose Lobaton and let him swing away. Lobaton struck out.

Before Monday’s game, Braves general manager Frank Wren spoke of his team’s missed opportunities to distance itself from Washington, which is working without Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche. The Braves were still in first place, Wren conceded, but “it doesn’t feel that way.” Come midnight, it felt more that way.

Reader Comments 0

22 comments
keendaddy
keendaddy

Great game last night, except for the kid getting hit.

keendaddy
keendaddy

For some insane reason, I am still pulling for BJ. He just needs to stay focused, and maybe work on

his bunting skills. Also, he needs to crowd the plate a little more. He loves to swing at outside pitch and getting plunked a little more, will help him get on base more. (Hey, whatever it takes)

RONMERIDIAN
RONMERIDIAN

The way to fix the Braves is to get a legitmate lead off hitter. My answer is Emilio Bonafacio from the Cubs. Trade, Release, or give Uggla a bus ticket. Then trade for Bonafacio. Line up:

1. Bonafacio 2nd

2. C. Johnson 3rd

3. Freeman 1st

4. J. Upton. LF

5. Heyward RF

6. Simmons. SS

7. Gattis C

8. B.J. Upton. CF

Bench: Pena, Laird, Duomit, Pastornicky, Schafer

Bonafacio is a switch hitter and can play multiple positions. This line up can play small ball or home run and has many options in changing up the line up order.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

They walked BJ Upton TWICE, begging the thought the Braves didn't win as much as Milwaukee lost.

BravoDawg
BravoDawg

3 HUGE holes in the lineup, IF BJ & Uggly were producing like they bank money then the FACT that Heyward is doing nothing wouldnt be that bad, but when you have 3  guys doing nada hard to score & win with only 5 players, Uggla is outta here soon & JHey is outta here when his contract is up, all potential & no production, never should have gave him a 2 year ext. FW!!!!!

RickyBobby
RickyBobby

Win or lose, we can do it uglier than all get out - whatever that means.  This is Ugly-Ball!  Let' say we luck up and squeeze into the playoffs.  What chance do we have with this lineup? 

Barack_Bi-Curious
Barack_Bi-Curious

Is BJ Upton to Accountability what Count Dracula is to Garlic?

Barack_Bi-Curious
Barack_Bi-Curious

Which of the following is MOST True?

55-year-old Julio Franco > BJ Upton

55-year-old Julio Franco > Dan Uggla

Kate Upton > BJ Upton

Used Bathroom Tissue > AJC "Reporting"

Mr. Negative
Mr. Negative

They beat up on a poor kid who was in lower A ball last year and has to stay on the MLB roster due to Rule 5. This will reinstate Sluggo Disease in their brains and they will all come out swinging for the fences for tonight's shutout/1 run affair. I'll be in the parking lot grilling a big T-Bone in celebration. 

HopelessinAtlanta
HopelessinAtlanta

It's rumored that for today's game the Braves will select two fans from the stands to replace Uggla & BJ in the lineup. Upon hearing these rumors Las Vegas bookmakers have doubled the odds for an Atlanta win tonight.

BigIrishMike
BigIrishMike

  As I said on another post 1st inning 1st and 3rd one out 3-2 count Freddie G should have put the slow runner in motion.Break up the double play run scores. Braves would then be up 2-0 and runs hard to come by. Johnson is not hitting like last year still has a good chance of making contact. Didn't Freddie say we need that fire instead we get station to staion baseball. 

 Braves end up with a double play instead of a FC and a 2-0 lead.

Its all on you Freddie I would much rather see a double play on the line drive out being aggressive than a passive routine inning ending double play !

 Any manager in Metro Atlanta puts the runner in motion in that situation except the one at TURNER FIELD.

Dockins2
Dockins2

Personally I am a BJ Upton fan, and last night seemed to be a step in the right direction. 1 for 3, 2 runs scored, 2 walks, a pop out and only 1 strikeout. In my book that was awesome. Wish he would have put one out of the park but that is not bad at all to be on the base paths 3 times in 5 at bats. Man I hope he comes around as I would love to see @BJUPTON2 in Centerfield for Atlanta for a LONG time.


GO BRAVOS!!!!!

Savdon
Savdon

Some days it's just better to appreciate what you do have versus what you don't have.   This is going to be a very strange season.

Danili
Danili

The wonderful ups and downs of a long baseball season.   At times frustrating but after those teams of the 60's, 70's and 80's, it is so good to be involved in a pennant race almost every year. 

scientist2
scientist2

@Dockins2 @BJUPTON2a.k.a. BJ's Mom... it's great you are sticking up for your son, but he really doesn't deserve it. The other son is pretty good, could be better. Maybe he needs some Campbell's soup or something?

rockinreel
rockinreel

@Dockins2 Just before that game, BJ had 13 strikeouts of 19 at bats.  He leads the MLB in strikeouts. I wish he and Uggla would start hitting over .400 the rest of the year, but unfortunately BJ can't even hardly tip the ball, much less hit it. ...and Uggla is benched.


IMO, if you lead the MLB in strikeouts, you should be sent down to Minor League because you are the WORST hitter of ALL THE BATTERS in baseball.

RickyBobby
RickyBobby

@Danili

Definitely beats the alternative - I know and I try to keep that in mind.  Been in Atlanta since early 70's as a kid and we did have some BAD runs.  We would've killed for this team I guess...

JackClemens
JackClemens

@Danili  Buddy J. Solomon, Craig Skoak, Mickey Mahler. At least there was Neikro.

58Supersports
58Supersports

@TampGator1 @Danili It would be nice to get to the World Series more often. Its no fun to go to the big dance and then can't dance.  Yes, I was there in 60's-80's .