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Bad defense, management sink Braves in 7-3 loss

In a season with a lot of frustrating losses, that was right up there near the top of the list

MLB: San Diego Padres at Atlanta Braves Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

This game was a great opportunity for Atlanta to win another series against a good opponent who is at a disadvantage due to the start time (8:35 AM local time for San Diego) and for Kyle Wright to rebound after his first bad start of the season last time out. Instead we all left with a bad taste in our mouths to sit with for the remainder of our Sunday.

This game did not have to be this way and started out great for the Braves as Kyle Wright came out looking fantastic and Dansby made a great heads up play on the basepath to score the game’s first run in the second inning.

It continued to go extremely well for Atlanta, as Dansby hit a two-run homer in the fourth and Kyle Wright didn’t allow a hit until the fifth inning. Unfortunately, things were pretty much all down hill from there. In the fifth, Kyle walked a batter who advanced to second on a single and scored on a pickoff attempt from Contreras to Olson at first, in which Olson just whiffed on a very catchable ball, allowing it to sail into right field.

Then came the decision to leave Wright in for the seventh inning. While his pitch count was not very high and he had looked quite good, letting him face the heart of the Padres order the third time through after a rough outing last start, with a good bullpen, and after Kyle had clearly done his job with 6 innings and no earned runs, it was at the very least questionable. Kyle got the first out on a .970 xBA line drive from Luke Voit and then things went rapidly downhill as Kyle gave up a single and an RBI double, and then Austin Riley committed a bad error to allow Robinson Cano to reach and Wil Meyers to advance to third. That was it for Kyle, as Collin McHugh came in and he got two flyouts to end the inning, but the first scored Meyers from third to tie the game.

Each team only mustered one baserunner through the end of the ninth and we were off to classic Manfredball with the zombie runner. Jackson Stephens came in for the tenth and was nails as he pitched a scoreless inning, even with the zombie runner.

The Braves just had to score one run to win the game and a runner (William Contreras) on second. Then came the inexcusable decision to bunt with the leadoff batter, Orlando Arcia. While Arcia is not exactly a superstar at the plate, there is no chance of a ground-ball double-play with the runner on second, and if the bunt is “successful” in trading an out to move the runner to third, the Braves’ win expectancy would have essentially stayed the same. Of course, there is the risk that the bunt fails, especially with a catcher who has 5th percentile sprint speed as the lead runner, and that is exactly what happened as the Padres’ pitcher picked up the bunt (that was poorly executed as well as dumb) and threw it to third for an out. The Braves just conceded an out for the right to trade a runner on second for a runner on first. Travis Demeritte struck out before Matt Olson hit a line drive single through the middle that very likely would have scored a runner from second, but instead set up runners on the corners with two outs. Austin Riley then hit a line drive with a .720 xBA right to the shortstop for an out.

The game then went exactly as you would expect after that 10th inning debacle. Stephens came back out for the 11th and immediately gave up an RBI double before getting a soft grounder to Dansby, who picked it up and made a bad throw to first that Matt Olson could have picked, but did not and Dansby was credited with the error. Stephens did get a groundout from Voit before getting another ground ball straight to Ozzie Albies. If Dansby had made a better throw or Olson picked the bad throw, Ozzie could have easily shoveled this to first to end the inning with a one run deficit, but instead he threw home to try and stop the run and made a throw that wasn’t exactly bad, but wasn’t good enough to get the runner either, meaning that the Padres had scored two runs, and still had runners on the corners with only one out. Wil Meyers then singled to effectively end the game, scoring two more runs. Stephens got out of the inning with no further damage, but enough had been done.

Predictably after that disaster, the Braves went down with a whimper in a 1-2-3 bottom of the 11th. While the defense and management probably had more to do with the loss, it must be said that the offense could have done more to help Atlanta win this game.

Anyway, it is only one game, but it was really bad and let’s not ever bunt again. Hopefully the Braves can work out whatever defensive yips they have collectively been dealing with over the last two games before they start play tomorrow in Milwaukee at 7:40 PM ET.