Does this game warrant an actual recap? Nah. Instead let’s just list all the infuriating things about this game. I’m sure the picture will congeal.
First and foremost, the Braves’ division lead has expired. Their loss and the Phillies’ big impending win in Pittsburgh (they currently hold a 10-run lead) will move the two competitors into a tie atop the division.
Second, the Braves have lost four straight games for the first time this season. While this game was closer than the others they’ve lost in the skid, it was also the dumbest and most easily preventable loss, but that didn’t stop it from going down as a capital “L” in the ledger.
Third, Mike Foltynewicz picked a terrible time for his second-worst start of the year. Foltynewicz ended up allowing five runs in six innings. He only really suffered issues in the second and third, and buckled down effectively after that. Still, those two innings were brutal. In the second, Folty had a 1-2-3 frame, but allowed two absolute rockets to center that were flagged down by Ender Inciarte on amazing running catches. Rather than make any adjustments, the same continued in the third, as Foltynewicz aired out ball over the plate after ball over the plate. The third started with Manny Pina getting a lucky single on a ball way outside because Dansby Swanson’s leaping backwards dive failed to come up with the ball. After that, Foltynewicz got ahead 0-2 of Tyler Saladino before grooving a floating slider that Saladino demolished into the left-field stands, turning a 1-0 Atlanta lead into a 2-1 deficit. After striking out the opposing pitcher, Foltynewicz threw a 1-2 fastball down the pipe that resulted in an Eric Thames single. He then hit Christian Yelich in an 0-2 count, and another 1-1 aired-out fastball over the middle to Jesus Aguilar was mashed into straightaway center for a three-run homer. Folty ended up allowing just one baserunner over the next three innings, but the damage was done.
Fourth, the Braves had an absolutely bludgeon-worthy abortive rally in the seventh. That was the inning that reliever Jacob Barnes took over for starter Freddy Peralta, and Barnes was greeted with a leadoff single by Nick Markakis, a five-pitch walk to Kurt Suzuki, and then another single by Johan Camargo. Ronald Acuña then reached on a dribbler to third that made it a 5-2 game, and Dansby Swanson lined a ball to right center that brought the Braves to within one run, with the tying run on third and the go-ahead run on second, still with none out.
But, then, the game descended into blood-boiling madness (and not the good kind). The Brewers brought on new reliever Dan Jennings, and with the pitcher’s spot coming up, the Braves sent pinch-hitter Danny Santana to the plate. Santana saw literally one pitch in the strike zone and put himself in a 1-2 count by swinging at two sliders below the zone. A few pitches later, he struck out on yet another slider in the exact same location. The Braves were still down by one. Ender Inciarte came to the plate, failed to elevate anything he made contact with, and on a 3-2 count, swung at ball four below the zone, hitting it back to the pitcher for a groundout that kept the runner frozen at third. The Braves’ goose was all but cooked at this point, and Ozzie Albies culminated the failure by whiffing on a slider in the dirt and then rolling yet another slider nowhere near the zone for a routine groundout.
That wasn’t all, though. In the eighth, the Braves once again put the tying run in scoring position, thanks to another Markakis single and Suzuki walk, this time against Jeremy Jeffress. But, Johan Camargo rolled into a double play, apparently not taking to heart the lesson that should have been learned earlier in the inning (and earlier in the game) that non-grounders are great and grounders are awful.
Fifth, the Braves made numerous baserunning blunders, and they were quite costly. They actually got their first run on a weird sequence, as Ozzie Albies hit a double over third and drew a throw to second base that trickled away from the fielder. That allowed Ender Inciarte to scamper home with the game’s first run, and Albies attempted to take third, being easily gunned down for the game’s first out.
In the sixth, Ender Inciarte reached base and was thrown out trying to steal, despite the Braves being down four runs at the time. In the ninth, the situation was even worse, as Dansby Swanson hit a one-out single off Milwaukee closer Corey Knebel. With (sigh) pinch-hitter Ryan Flaherty batting, Swanson took off in an attempt to take second and was thrown out, with replay review contributing a predictable lack of avail. The Braves therefore lost their tying baserunner, and Flaherty feebly struck out to end the game.
Sixth, Ronald Acuña left the game with tightness in his groin. He suffered the injury running out his run-scoring infield single and was replaced by Charlie Culberson, who popped out in the eighth.
Seventh, Freddie Freeman continued to look dreadful at the plate. He did notch a double in the first (which would have scored Albies had he not been thrown out), but struck out twice and made another out in his next three trips, looking overmatched in his last two at-bats and striking out on six pitches, missing both high fastballs and low breaking stuff with impunity.
Eighth, the Braves once again hit no homers.
After pulling to within one run, the Braves showed a lack of instinct for hitting the ball in the air, even though the MLB average is a 30 wRC+ on grounders and a 212 wRC+ on non-grounders this year. They managed just two hits on grounders in the game, yet kept going back to that well. Meanwhile, the Brewers clubbed a couple of homers and took it fairly easy for the rest of the night; Jesse Biddle worked two scoreless innings with just one hit allowed and three strikeouts to close out Atlanta’s side of the pitching ledger.
The Braves will hope for better results tomorrow, which they’ll likely need to keep pace in the division. I, personally, will just hope for the baby steps of more homers, or at least more balls in the air. Or, at least, that the Braves cease beating themselves for the remainder of this road trip, which they started 4-0 and have now brought down to 4-4.
Post your other “favorite” infuriating things about this loss in the comments. Or, don’t, whatever. Ugh.