Oh, hey, it’s Friday night! What’s your plan, dear Braves fan? Want to settle in and watch the Braves take on the Phillies as both teams try to extend winning streaks, with two guys pitching pretty well on the hill? Sounds fun, right?
Well, dear Braves fan, it was not fun. In short: Charlie Morton recorded two outs in nine batters. After he was down 6-0, he walked the opposing pitcher, and was promptly pulled from the game. It was Morton’s shortest, and likely worst, outing since 2015, when he was shelled for two bombs and nine runs, retiring just two of the 11 batters he faced. This one was not really any better, as the Braves had a huge hole to clamber out of before they even came to the plate... and they came nowhere near to doing so.
Morton’s inning, such as it was, went south in a hurry. He struck out Rhys Hoskins, but the ball got away from William Contreras, and Hoskins was able to reach first. After a walk to Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto flared one into left, loading the bases. Morton could have gotten out of it with a well-placed grounder, or perhaps a strikeout and another out, but instead gave up a liner to right to Alec Bohm that scored the first run of the game. A wounded duck off Didi Gregorius’ bat again gave Morton and the Braves the chance to escape without too much damage, but Jean Segura, fresh off an IL stint, hit a lame dribbler that scored two. Even that was possibly manageable in terms of game score, with nine innings of hitting left. But, lo and behold, Odubel Herrera destroyed a middle-middle cutter into center for a three-run homer that made the score 6-0. After Morton walked Zach Eflin on eight pitches, Brian Snitker trotted out of the dugout, removed Morton in favor of Josh Tomlin, and that was that.
The rest of the game, well: blah. I know that many Braves fans think of Eflin as a bit of a non-entity that hasn’t really troubled Atlanta’s bats too often in the past, but he was good last year, came into this game as a top 15 pitcher by fWAR, and had no problems stifling the bats once again, just like he did in the season-opening series. Eflin ended up allowing two runs in 6 2⁄3 innings with a strong 8/1 K/BB ratio. One of the runs came on a Dansby Swanson solo homer, the other when Ronald Acuña Jr. singled Swanson home following a double. The Braves did little else offensively all night, tallying just six baserunners in nine frames.
Tomlin did his usual valiant-effort-in-a-nearly-lost-cause routine, throwing 4 1⁄3 innings of one-run ball with a 5/1 K/BB ratio; the run did not (!) score on a homer. Any efforts by Tomlin to keep it close were promptly undone by Jesse Biddle (two runs in two innings) and then the unfortunate Braves debut of Carl Edwards Jr., who retired just one of the four batters he faced and gave up a two-run shot to Realmuto in the process. Jacob Webb was the only Atlanta hurler to not have a run charged to him on the night, and struck out three of the six batters he faced, which is probably cool for him.
This is the fourth time in 32 games that the Braves have given up double-digit runs. The Braves came into this game with the 27th-ranked pitching staff, as well as the 27th-ranked rotation, by fWAR. This game mercifully didn’t really drop them any further down that list, but it didn’t help in any way, either. So, the Braves and Morton will do what they’ve tried to do a handful of times already: try to find a path forward after another blowout. The Mets also won today, so the playoff odds will take a tumble once again. The Braves will try to snap the Phils’ now-five game winning streak tomorrow, when Ian Anderson faces Vince Velasquez.
(Also the umpiring was really bad, but that barely rates given everything else, and the fact that it seems like a statement that can be copy-pasted into too many recaps for it to be particularly novel at this point.)