As we get ready for what should be yet another, um, eventful game of baseball in Game 2 of this year’s NLDS between the Braves and Cardinals, we have to take one quick look back at Game 1. Look, I understand. I don’t want to do this any more than you do, but we almost have to look back at it because that was an incredibly dumb baseball game. All those times where I’ve said “baseball is a dumb/weird/stupid sport,” basically everything that happened last night was proof that this is the wackiest sport of all the major sports here in North America.
For starters, the start time. Now granted, you can’t really do much about that. The only alternative was to give the Dodgers a 2 PM local start time, and that’s not happening for a team that won 106 games. So the Braves got stuck with a 5 PM start time. That’s 5 PM in the Atlanta metro area, which is a fun place to be when it’s rush hour. That’s something that they’ll have to deal with tomorrow as they’re looking at a start time around 4:30 PM. There’s not much you can do about that, but it’s still an annoyance. Fortunately, the Braves faithful packed SunTrust Park and made it a loud atmosphere.
Well, I can only assume that it was a loud atmosphere based on what the people who were actually at the ballpark heard and felt. TBS’s broadcast did a pretty bad job of conveying the crowd noise at the ballpark. Granted, they don’t normally have too many issues when it comes to their broadcast but last night’s game legit sounded like there was something covering the field mics. Maybe they’ll fix it so that the rest of the series doesn’t sound poor but if they don’t, then I guess we’ll all have to get used to listening to the sounds of a baseball game as if you’re watching them from your kitchen’s food pantry.
Now we get to the actual baseball game, which was a humdinger. As they usually do for the Braves (and other Atlanta sports teams who don’t play soccer), things got off to a great start! The Braves went ahead early! Miles Mikolas may have limited the damage, but things were looking good for the Braves! Dallas Keuchel even got into and out of some jams! Then the fifth inning rolls around and this game’s dumb level began to rise when the Cardinals score a run after Dallas Keuchel surrenders his first stolen base of the season. The base was third base, and Harrison Bader was able to swipe it because Keuchel didn’t even bother to look at the runner. It’s the type of heads-up play that always seems to work out for the Cardinals, and it paid off for them here. Still, it was a bad run to end up conceding.
Then respond in the sixth by scoring two runs. The runs were scored on a play where the Cardinals — the third best team in all of baseball in both DRS and UZR — committed their second error of the night. This was after Nick Markakis hit a double on a bouncing ground ball that made it down the line. According to Statcast, the grounder had an xBA of .010. That means that the ball somehow dribbling through for a base hit was a miracle. We witnessed basically two miracles in one inning at the plate for the Braves and things were finally looking on the up-and-up! The Braves were in position to send the home fans happy and win the first game of a series for a change!
Then it happened. Most Braves fans and especially fans of the other local teams who have been through countless postseason failures here know what I mean when I say “it” but for the uninitiated, I’m talking about The Other Shoe dropping. Have you ever noticed that for every thing good that happens fort he Braves, something bad immediately follows it? Well, that ended up being Chris Martin injuring himself before he even threw a live pitch. That brought Luke Jackson into the game for the eighth inning, and he proceeded to get one of his balls hit by Paul Goldschmidt towards Kennesaw Mountain and the Cardinals had life again. Even though the Braves somehow escaped with the game still tied, The Other Shoe was raised high in the air at this point, and the dumb levels were through the roof.
Speaking of the play that tied the game, Carpenter’s hit that somehow found grass in left field had a .180 xBA attached to it. Yeah, it wasn’t Markakis Devil Magic but as you can very clearly tell, the voodoo was working again for the team with the redbirds across their chest. It really was that kind of game, folks.
All of the dumb alarm bells were already ringing at that point after seventh inning ended with Ronald Acuña Jr. getting doubled up after Josh Donaldson hit a liner right at Paul DeJong. Why was Acuna at second? Because he only got a single on a fly ball that hit the wall below the Chop House. He could have gotten a double and moved to third after a ground out and then he would have never been in position to get doubled off in the first place, but instead it happened.
Then the ninth inning came, and The Other Shoe finally dropped and it dropped with a loud smack. Mark Melancon attempted a four-out save last night. Instead, he gave up two singles and two doubles in the ninth inning and the Cardinals broke the game wide open. The Cardinals had not led at any point of the game until the final inning. That is the most Cardinals way to win a postseason game, but the Braves weren’t done losing this postseason game in the most Braves way possible. No, we have to get even more dumb stuff and that came in the form of The False Hope. Like The Other Shoe, the same group of fans are well acquainted with The False Hope.
Give credit to the Braves for not quitting — they have never backed down when the going got tough all season and they didn’t stop here. This is why we love this team and why we’ll all keep coming right back even after dumb nights like this. Acuña and Freeman both hit homers to bring the Braves within one, but Nick Markakis struck out looking on a pitch right down the middle and that’s how it all ended.
We’re not done! That’s because the game got even dumber in post-game. Instead of focusing on Chris Martin’s injury and the other dumb stuff that I mentioned above, the conversation was about Acuña and the double that ended up being a single. That resulted in this quote from Acuña getting public guff from his teammates. I can understand being angry with him but you’re also talking about a guy who was a triple away from hitting for the cycle in a postseason game. I wouldn’t have put that out in the public, but I’m also not a major league player in a major league player so I’m not going to get mad at them for doing that either.
The good news is that they’re all saying that they’re going to let it go and focus on tomorrow, which is what should be done. Hopefully they follow the lead of the manager and put it behind them. This has been a professional clubhouse all season and I don’t expect that to change here in October. The bad news is that they won’t have one of the relievers that they traded for in order to vault themselves into legit contention, so that’s neat. Wonderful. Fantastic. Great. Can you feel my joy?
We’re not even done with the postgame comments! Since this is baseball, someone got mad about something that no adult should be mad about under any circumstances. Apparently the Cardinals weren’t happy with how Acuña made his trot around the diamond after hitting a home run in the ninth inning of a National League Divisional Series game in Major League Baseball in the year of our Lord two-thousand-and-nineteen.
The Cardinals weren't thrilled by how Ronald Acuña Jr. rounded the bases on his 9th inning homer, enough that Yadier Molina went to the mound to calm Carlos Martinez down afterwards.— Joe Trezza (@JoeTrezz) October 4, 2019
Postgame, Martinez said: "I wanted him to respect the game & respect me as a veteran player."
That was the the moment that truly made this one of the dumbest baseball games that I can remember and easily the dumbest Braves game of the season. Imagine whining publicly about “respecting the game” when it’s the Postseason. An absolutely astonishing reaction from the Cardinals and if that doesn’t fire up the Braves for the rest of the series, I don’t know what will.
From the absurd moments on the field to the reactions off the field, this game had everything. The good news is that we all get to do this all over again in just a few hours, so I hope you’re ready for more nonsense! Isn’t the postseason wonderful?!