The Atlanta Braves offense is back. Unfortunately, that isn't a great thing in 2015.
Atlanta averaged nearly six runs per game during a four-game series victory over the Miami Marlins, but after an off day, things crashed back to earth against Erasmo Ramirez and the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday. Ramirez and the Tampa Bay bullpen combined to silence the bats of the Braves, and with one big swing from Kevin Kiermaier, the Rays took home a 2-0 victory in the series opener.
The Braves actually threatened in the first inning, though it would be the only time throughout the evening. Cameron Maybin was thrown out at the plate after a Nick Markakis double to right field, and that was all that Ramirez needed. The talented right-hander navigated seven shutout innings, and during that time, Ramirez retired 16 (!) consecutive Atlanta batters. Needless to say, the Braves were pleased to see him exit, but the duo of Brandon Gomes and Xavier Cedeno slammed the door in relief.
On the more positive side for the Braves, Williams Perez was quite effective. The 24-year-old actually pitched a "complete game", allowing only two runs over eight innings of work despite four walks. The big blow came from the aforementioned Kiermaier, who blasted a two-run home run in the seventh, but aside from that, Perez was everything he needed to be, and it is a shame that his performance did not prove to be enough.
The Braves and Rays will get together again on Wednesday night in the "finale", but if Atlanta fails to generate any semblance of offense for the second straight day, it won't be a pleasurable swing through Florida. Stay tuned.