Game 1 actually went really well despite how ugly it was to watch. The pitching was actually really good from none other than Shelby Miller. He's the one link in the chain that's holding the whole thing together. Shelby only gave up 1 run on 3 hits in 7 innings, so he did his job and then some. Yet, the Braves were mostly stymied by Miller's counterpart Mike Leake. So with the game a 1-1 tie going to the 9th inning, something had to give. I'm frankly shocked it wasn't us, given our pen. But no! Cincy's pen is actually worse. And Chapman for Cincinnati gave up two singles, a stolen base, and then he threw a wild pitch to allow the runner to score from third. That was the difference. Jim Johnson came on in the 9th to get the save, and the Braves won 2-1.
Game 2 was a one-run heart-breaker. The Braves jumped out early with a 3-2 lead in the 4th inning, thanks to some timely hitting by Nick Markakis and Kelly Johnson. Even though Foltynewicz pitched a great game and deserved a chance to win, Cincy got him for the 3rd run in the 7th inning with two outs because he couldn't escape a sacrifice fly. With the game tied it went back to the bullpens, and this time in the 9th the Braves blinked first. Grilli came on to try to push the game to extras, but instead Pena got a single and Mesoraco doubled to the gap, scoring the pinch runner from first on an Andrelton Simmons bobbled throw. It was unlike Simmons, and it wasn't a true error, but if he makes the throw the runner was going to be out at the plate. Instead, the Reds got the walk-off win.
Game 3 happened while I was at the Hawks game watching them get their big playoff win, so I had to get the recap from skimming my DVR, thus the late recap today. What can I say about this one? Stults was throwing home run batting practice, and the game was over by the third inning. It didn't take me long to form that conclusion. I didn't even need to watch more than the first 45 minutes. Byrd and Frazier both homered for the Reds, they got a couple more runs on sacrifices. 5-0 Reds, and all the fans I'm sure stopped caring. I can tell you one thing for certain, when the Braves are down 4 ore more runs this year? Forget about it. And forget about this game. We got torched by a fresh out of AAA rookie for the Reds who threw a 2-hitter. That's the 2014 Braves I know and hated.
Three Things I Hated:
- The Fact a Reds Rookie owned us - That's #1 with a bullet. These are professional hitters, and you can't let a AAA guy hold you to two hits. That's dang embarrassing.
- The Fact Stults can't stop giving up homers - It's not just this series, it's all the time. Stults main issue is he can't keep the ball down, and he can't keep it in the park. He's given up 9 homers in 7 games, and just 40 innings. Horrific? You bet.
- The Bullpen again? Sure why not - I'm going to continue to hate the bullpen until they stop blowing games. We should have won this series. We didn't because the bullpen couldn't hold game two together, which was really winnable.
The NBI (Needs Big Improvement) Award goes to Eric Stults. Bro, you have to get the ball down or you are headed to the bullpen. I pulled the PitchFX numbers on Stults. They tell a very simple tale. His fastball is getting hammered, and it's mainly because he's leaving it up in the zone. In fact, hitters are slugging his fastball at a .667 clip, whereas last year it was at .495. That's a pretty gigantic jump, and it explains why we're watching so much damage happen on that one pitch. Stults has to get that thing lower in the zone, or diving away from the hitter, or it's going to be curtains for his starting job for the Braves.
Next up? We play the Marlins, who are struggling like we are. Best to get them while they are cold. Like good sushi should be.