A few days back I wrote a post that said the Braves needed to do two things to win games. And if they didn't do those two things they were destined to lose 90% of the time. Well last night they failed to do those two things. What are they again? Freddie Freeman needs to hit, and the bullpen needs to lock it up. Both fell apart against the Dodgers after the 4th inning.
The Braves are actually doing a great job of jumping out to leads. So far the Braves are in 3rd place in MLB in average runs scored in the 1st 4 innings. With 2.64 runs per game in the first four innings, the Braves are establishing themselves with early leads. The other 4 teams in the top 5 of that list are the Cardinals, the Cubs, the Yankees, and the Rockies. With the exception of the Yankees, all those other teams have winning records right now. It's a good stat to lead the league in.
Here's the downside. You know where the Braves rank in runs scored for the LAST 4 innings in the game (6th to 9th)? They are 29th with 1.00, second to dead last. The only team worse is, laughably again, the Yankees. It sort of explains why both the Braves and the Yankees don't have winning records. Late in the game they simple don't know how to put runs on the board, which means the bullpen has to be firing on all cylinders.
Last night that just didn't happen. The bullpen gave up 3 runs in 4.2 innings, which will almost never work in the Braves favor. Couple that with Freddie Freeman coming just one strikeout short of the platinum sombrero, and his 0-5 night certainly didn't help. The Dodgers did a full shift on Freddie and while he's struggling I'm still wondering why he isn't going the other way. If you're in full on bash mode and seeing the ball well? Pull it to your hearts content and blast homers over the shift. When you're grinding? I like to see good hitters make the defense pay like Brian McCann used to do.
Daniel Castro and AJ Pierzynski also had great days at the plate, accounting for 4 hits, 3 RBIs, and a run scored. They were basically the offense. The rest of the team struggled to even get 3 hits off the Dodgers pitching staff. And things don't get any easier tomorrow with Kershaw on the mound. Frankly with the way Julio was hanging pitches, we're luck the game was tied going into the late innings. Corey Seagar was again just an eyelash from a 2-run homer down the right field line, but it went mercifully foul and kept the game in check.
Braves lost 5-3 in extras, and they try again today at noon to best Clayton Kershaw with Matt Wisler. Good luck! They'll need it.