Remember the Cubs game last year in April?
Some will remember it for the horrible weather, others for the large lead that was surrendered.
Well, while the Braves did not give up as big of a lead, this may be just a painful of a memory in time.
The Braves lost to the Diamondbacks 9-6 on Tuesday night. Despite another good effort from Max Fried and the offense, the Braves bullpen found a new level of awful it had not reached before.
The game looked like a pitchers’ duel from the start as Fried and Robbie Ray only gave up one hit apiece trough three innings. However, the top of the fourth was not so kind to Fried. After getting David Peralta to ground into a double play, Fried gave up three straight singles and a double, which resulted in a 2-0 Arizona lead.
Ronald Acuña Jr. launches a rocket from one knee. pic.twitter.com/HUCe9McGar— FOX Sports South (@FOXSportsSouth) April 17, 2019
However, Ronald Acuna Jr. had the answer as he nearly always seems to do. His 448-foot blast made the score 2-1. After Ray escaped a Johan Camargo double and a walk to Dansby Swanson, he caught Tyler Flowers looking at a slider. Fried would work out of his own trouble in the top of the fifth, as he was able to escape after a hit batsman and a single.
BASES LOADED.— FOX Sports: Braves (@FOXSportsBraves) April 17, 2019
CAMAR STEPS IN. pic.twitter.com/fvvGj5UH3j
It seemed that the ease at which Ray was cruising earlier in the game came to an abrupt halt after the Acuna Jr. homer. And his night crash landed in the bottom of the fifth. Singles by Fried and Ozzie Albies were followed by a Freddie Freeman double. After a walk to Acuna Jr., Camargo delivered again with a bases clearing double. This gave the Braves a 5-2 lead.
Fried would work a quiet top of the sixth and end with his third straight quality start. In six innings, Fried gave up 2 earned runs, 7 hits, 1 walk, 1 hit batsman and struck out 3 batters. With the Braves offense facing the Arizona bullpen the rest of the way, it seemed to be a very good bet Fried was in line for his third straight win.
Or so we thought.
With it being too painful to rehash the end of the game moment by moment, the total numbers will speak for themselves. Chad Sobotka, Jessie Biddle and Luke Jackson combined to give up 2 hit batsman, 3 walks, and 2 hits in the top of the 7th, which resulted in four runs. The Diamondbacks took a 6-5 lead. After a recent stretch in which the bullpen had finally started to find its groove, it veered right back off course with a purpose.
However, as good offenses and good teams seem to do, the Braves immediately answered instead of folding. Ozzie Albies tied the game with his second home run of the season. While Shane Carle made his return to the majors escaping trouble after a walk in the top of the 8th, Dansby Swanson lead off the bottom of the 8th with a double. However, a Tyler Flowers line out double play ended the rally.
In the top of the 9th, A.J. Minter was immediately met with trouble. Christian Walker connected with his fifth homer of the year. After two quick outs, Minter allowed a double and a walk, and Jacob Webb was called upon to make his major league debut. Adam Jones had a rude welcoming though, as his two run double made the score 9-6.
That would prove to be the final score. Overall. the Braves bullpen yielded seven runs on two hit batsman, five walks, five hits, and a home run. The Diamondbacks proved how good they are against left-handers, especially the bottom of the order. Their five through eight-hole hitters combined to go 8-18 with 4 runs, 2 walks, 2 doubles, a home run and five RBI’s.
While it is early in the season, this loss adds validity to a few pretty factual statements. The Braves are a good team with an elite offense. However, they also are a flawed team. This bullpen simply is a unit that very likely will keep the Braves from being considered one of the best in the National league.
This was not just a loss in April. This was a loss that could prove to be quite memorable if the Braves do not find end of the game answers quickly.