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The Daily Chop: Ronald Acuña Jr, Game 1 fallout and more

There was plenty of blame to go around for Atlanta’s Game 1 loss.

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Divisional Series - St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves - Game One Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Lets just get it out of the way so we can move on. The Atlanta Braves suffered a painful 7-6 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals Thursday night. Ronald Acuña Jr. had a big game going 3-for-4 at the plate with a two-run home run in the ninth inning and made a four-star catch in center field, yet the conversation after the game centered once again on his lack of hustle out of the box on a ball that caromed off the right field wall. Acuña carried his bat halfway down the line before kicking it into high gear but was forced to stop at first with a single.

If you think that is the reason that the Braves lost Thursday night then you need to rethink it because it wasn’t. There were no guarantees that Atlanta would have scored had Acuña reached second in the inning. Andrew Miller hit Freddie Freeman before getting Josh Donaldson to line into a double play to end the inning. If you need a place to direct your ire, then it should fall on the bullpen that surrendered six runs over the final two innings. The Braves had Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas on the ropes early but were only able to push across one run.

Now with that said, that doesn’t absolve Acuña completely in this sense. He has been regarded as one of the best players in baseball on more than one occasion. He is the most talented player on young and talented team. With that comes expectation and responsibility. What happened in Game 1 is something that simply can’t happen. It shouldn’t happen in the regular season and it is something that can’t happen in the postseason when everything is magnified about 1000 percent. The media is going to be the media. Talk radio is going to do talk radio things, but Acuña’s biggest responsibility is to those other players in the clubhouse and that is why he can’t let this happen. Brian Snitker was clearly not happy having to answer questions about the incident after the game and neither was Freddie Freeman. They shouldn’t have to either.

Perhaps the biggest play of the game for Atlanta wasn’t even a play at all. Max Fried tossed a scoreless seventh but with four straight right-handed hitters due in the eighth, Snitker elected to go to right-hander Chris Martin. Martin was then forced to exit before throwing a pitch after he felt soreness in his oblique muscle while warming up. Luke Jackson came in and promptly served up a monstrous home run to Paul Goldschmidt that cut Atlanta’s lead to one. Mark Melancon was eventually pressed into service in the eighth and the Braves only escaped the inning with the game tied because of a strong throw by Adam Duvall that nailed Kolton Wong at the plate to end the inning. Martin is likely done for the rest of the postseason and the Braves will be forced to replace him on the roster Friday.

If you need to be reminded of how resilient this team is, then look no further than the ninth when they scored three times after falling behind 7-6. They will face a tall order in Game 2 in Cardinals right-hander Jack Flaherty but having watched this team all season, I will be surprised if they don’t come out on Friday ready to play.

Talking Chop Podcast Game 1 Recap

Brad and Eric break down the Game 1 loss and have thoughts on the team’s bullpen management in Game 1 and the Acuña controversy.

More Braves news and thoughts

“I wanted him to respect the game and respect me as a veteran player,” Martínez said through team translator Carlos Villoria. “That’s it. Just play the game.”

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