Welcome back to September. Last night was a pretty good encapsulation of literally everything that we’re afraid of. On paper, when you see Roy Halladay vs. Mike Minor, you do not expect the Braves to win. But when the Braves knocked Halladay out in the fifth inning with twin two-run homers by Martin Prado and Freddie Freeman, and it was 4-1 with a cruising Minor, you felt pretty good.
Then Minor coughed it up, which has happened a lot more than you’d like to see, and that’s bad. But as JoeCraigMcMurtry pointed out in the game thread, it’s not that he was pitching terribly: the three runs he gave up in the 6th came on a serious of four singles, including a bunt single to Chipper and a bloop flare to center. (However, the first two were solid line drives.)
Then Uggla hit a deep solo shot in the bottom of the inning, and it was 5-4, and that was good. But Hibernation Mode set in for the offense after that, and the Braves only got one hit the rest of the way, and that was bad.
Durbin, Venters and O’Flaherty made the score hold up by throwing zeroes in the 6th, 7th, and 8th in relief of Minor, and that was good. Then Kimbrel came in, went to an 0-2 count on the first batter — catcher Erik Kratz — with a couple of breaking balls, switched to the fastball, and Kratz tied it up with a home run. The next inning, John Mayberry hit a three-run homer off Christian Martinez to put the game safely out of reach. That’s bad.
Obviously, when you give a 5-4 lead to Craig Kimbrel, you expect to win the game. So in one way this is a fluke. But you just can’t lose these games. Not now. Not at this point in the season. Not against a below-.500 team. Not when your offense has scored more runs than in the previous three games combined.
One final thought: what in the hell is it with us and Phillies catchers? Carlos Ruiz is on the DL and his no-name backup managed to ruin our night instead!