The Braves entered this series with the Rangers with a great opportunity to build up some momentum for the stretch run towards the playoffs by beating up on the worst team in baseball. Instead on Sunday afternoon a hapless Braves team was crushed 10-3 as Texas completed their sweep of Atlanta. The postseason is no longer viable and the Braves are stumbling towards the finish line like Randy Travis at 4 am. The only question now is if the Braves will maintain more dignity than a naked country singer being arrested for a DUI as they finish out this awful season.
Mike Minor pitched for Atlanta and he was awful though at least he had the decency to be awful in a way that was slightly different from the ways in which he was awful for most of 2014. This time instead of mixing good stuff with meatballs that led to endless debate about how much of Minor's struggles were genuine Minor was flat awful. He gave up no homers but had zero command, walked three batters, and hit another as he threw batting practice to the worst lineup in the AL.
To be fair to Minor his first run wasn't really his fault. A one out walk and fielders choice brought up Michael Choice with two outs and a runner at first. Choice blooped in a single to left field where Justin Upton booted the ball towards centerfield. The sudden bounce off of Justin knocked the ball past Emilio Bonifacio who was running towards left field after the ball. Justin chased the ball down but Texas was up 1-0 and Choice was credited with a triple because the awarding of errors is arbitrary and stupid. Minor managed to escape the inning without further damage but the level of Barves Justin showed in the inning was simply setting the stage for the full on Barves soon to come.
Minor attempted to get himself in trouble in the third by letting poor hitter Elvis Andrus and awful hitter JP Arencibia reach base without actually making contact with the ball to start the inning. Minor actually did his best Aaron Harang and escaped the inning but his good fortune would soon run out.
Luis Sardinas would double home the Rangers second run of the game in the bottom of the 4th but it was only 2-0 going into the bottom of the fifth which is where things finally fell to pieces for Atlanta. Minor actually got two outs to start the inning which made the subsequent collapse even more infuriating. Ryan Rua doubled with two outs and came home when a broken bat Robinson Chirinos single dropped into no mans land between Simmons, Upton and Bonifacio. Minor walked Adam Rosales and David Hale was brought in to try and keep the game in manageable territory for a comeback. Hale completely failed in his assignment giving up four straight hits as the Rangers went ahead 8-0. Hale gave up two singles and two doubles to a collection of hitters who could most generously be described as good fielders. Hale finally ended the inning by getting out the terrible Arencibia but considering the no names who knocked him around Braves fans should wonder how much of Hale finally escaping was pure luck.
Sardinas would knock in two more runs in the 6th to make the game 10-0 this hit coming off key trade-deadline acquisition James Russell. Sardinas raised his wRC+ from 55 to 70 on the day an insane jump for a guy who has over 100 plate appearances this season. Sardinas basically improved his hitting from Ryan Doumit level to BJ Upton level on the day as the Braves comical futility at the plate finally spread to the pitching staff.
In the 7th inning Doumit decided to troll the few Braves fans still watching by hitting a solo homer to make the game 10-1. Fredi Gonzalez upped the troll ante by bringing on Joey Terdoslavich who for some reason has gotten zero opportunities to help the dismal offense before today. Terdoslavich doubled home two runs in the 8th for Atlanta to cut the deficit to 10-3. The rally ended there well short of an actual comeback but it was hilarious to see Terdoslavich come through after getting no chances in favor of players like Doumit and Jose Constanza.
This game was a depressing culmination of one of the most frustrating seasons in recent Braves history. The worst team in baseball treated the Braves like a group of amateurs, as a collection of helpless hitters teed off on Atlanta pitchers all afternoon. The season will be over soon thankfully though it seems most of the Braves players are already on vacation.