I wrote up another 1966 retrospective, but this disaster requires me to shelve it.
September 5th 2018 was a getaway afternoon game before 28,385 plus Braves Journal stalwart Timo. I was watching the Red Sox broadcast which began with manager Alex Cora apologizing to fantasy players for the team he was putting on the field: no Martínez, no Betts, no Bogaerts, no Nunez. I have it on reliable information that Alex consulted with Bobby Cox on this particular getaway day lineup.
The bottom of the first was very fruitful. Acuña set the Braves’ record for leadoff homers with his ninth. An Inciarte triple and Markakis single made it 2-0 very quickly. Camargo followed with a single, but then the pitching coach came out to remind starting pitcher Hector Velázquez that the point of pitching is to get the other team out. With that reminder, the inning fizzled after that.
In the top of the second, Lucas Duda, playing first base for a resting Freddie Freeman, demonstrated why the Mets organization is never the right place to teach you to field, giving up a run on a pure mental error.
The Braves flirted with a run in the fourth but Duda was gunned down at the plate on a Flowers double. Duda may not replace Freddie in the field or at the plate, but he appears to be just as fast on the bases.
Velázquez was replaced in the 5th and obviously the new pitcher Drew Pomeranz hadn’t been let in on the “the point of pitching is to get the other guys out” lesson. So he lets the first three guys on as well, including a second Acuña run, this one driven in by Markakis. Then the pitching coach came out. This time the lesson didn’t take. Camargo walked to load the bases, and Suzuki, hitting for Duda, knocked Inciarte in on a fielder’s choice. At that point Albies tripled to right center (whose idea was it to play Swihart at short-field softball depth in right?) driving in two more. A Flowers single drove in Albies through the drawn-in infield.
At this point it’s 7-1 and the Braves have Reitsma Room, but not, apparently, Adam Duvall Room. So confident was Snitker at this point that he put Duvall in right field. Mistake. He struck out and looked lost on three non-plays in right, leading to two runs off Winkler. (Can we get Joey Bats back?) Venters came in and Gryboed the remaining Winkler/Duvall baserunners to make it 7-5. A Camargo error puts the tying runs at 2nd and 3rd with one out. Brach Grybo’s Venters’ baserunners and now it’s 7-7. Duvall’s job done, he is removed from the game. Minter walks Bogaerts to load the bases and Betts comes to the plate. Minter gets the called strike 3. In the course of the top of the 8th, the Braves’ win probability went from 99.2% to 46.6%, rebounding to 60.8% when Betts struck out.
Freddie’s day off ended in the double switch that removed Brach and Duvall. He’s looked horrible for the last week. So of course he hits a homer to give the Braves an 8-7 lead. Minter continues in the 9th. Albies makes a great play on a bloop to right by Swihart. Benintendi singles. Pearce strikes out. Brandon Phillips homers. Win Probability drops to 21.7%.
To add insult to insult, Kimbrel comes in for the save. Dansby strikes out on three pitches. Albies flies to center. Flowers walks. Lane Adams strikes out on a 3-2 count to end it.
Up to now, the worst Braves loss in the season was the Cubs game in the freezing rain. This was a lot worse. Culprits are easy to find: Duda, Duvall, Winkler, Brach, Minter, Camargo’s error. That’s way too many culprits. Sure it’s only one game, but this one hurts. At least it didn’t happen in the postseason. If we make it to the postseason, we can lose in more conventional ways.