By some miracle, the Braves dodged a bullet and split this series after the Saturday game was cancelled by rain. That's actually a huge benefit for us, because I guarantee this team will be completely different by the time they have to make up that game post-All-Star break. Preferably with younger, better talent that's been seasoned in the minor leagues.
The Friday game was a mess by the end. Not really at the beginning though, as Aaron Blair looked solid through his 6 innings of starting work. 2 Hits, 3 walks, and 1 run? That's pretty sparkling for a guy facing some of the hottest hitters in the league right now. I don't love the walks, but when the result is good I'm not going to complain. He's a bright spot in the young talent brigade I hope to see more of soon.
But the bullpen happened late in that game, and yadda-yadda-yadda we ended up losing by 5. You may not be able to yadda-yadda sex, but you sure as heck can yadda-yadda five runs. That's right, it was a tie game in the 8th, then suddenly it wasn't. And a grand slam later it REALLY wasn't. Why did all this happen? Because Fredi Gonzalez once again decided to bring in EOF into a game that was tied. Because Fredi used his lefty-lefty logic to pitch EOF against the Cubs Rizzo, the absolute best hitter on their team. And Rizzo of course made them pay with an RBI single. Yadda-yadda, Fredi's not long for this team.
You know what? I've beaten how Fredi mismanages this thing to death, so there's no real point anymore. Ken Rosenthal, who is about as respected a national writer as there is in baseball, came out and flat said that Fredi Gonzalez is a dead man walking. He doesn't even expect Fredi to still be the manager when the Braves come back from the road trip on Friday. I hope he's right, because I think we're all sick and and tired of lame duck lineups and ridiculous bullpen decisions. Frankly, I'm tired of the argument when people want to say Fredi's NOT to blame for certain decisions, but they still believe he's not a good manager. If he's not good, he needs to go and we need to give somebody else their shot.
Game 2 on Sunday was actually much better. Not just because the Braves won, but because Julio Teheran actually had a great back-to-back game, plus it was on the road. Julio was masterful as he went for 7 innings with 2 hits, 0 runs, and 9 Ks. It's probably the best road game I've seen out of him in years. It also gives me hope because mentally I was wondering if Julio could ever find that some stride and dominance he had three years ago. These two games give me that hope, but I'm also aware that Julio is fickle. There could be a 5 run affair waiting around any corner.
The bullpen screwed this game up too, but not enough to cost the Braves a win. The Braves really made the Cubs pay for their error in the 6th as they had the bases loaded and one out, when a tailor made double play ball was hit to the Cubs SS. However, he booted it, a run scored, and all hands were safe. Then the Braves hit into ANOTHER double play, but Garcia avoided the tag long enough to let Markakis score. Basically, the Cubs should have gotten out of the inning still tied, but they were instead down 3-1.
That mattered because Jim Johnson botched the 8th inning, giving up 2 runs, and forcing Fredi to go to Vizcaino early. That move I actually applaud, because the game was on the line there. Fredi should have done it in the 8th inning of the prior game. Vizzy put out the fire in the 8th, but then self-destructed in the 9th when he walked Zobrist, then threw the ball by Freddie on a pickoff move that landed Zobrist on 3rd. A single brought him home and tied the game.
But luckily for the Braves, Markakis can still get make timely contact when the game is on the line. His sacrifice fly in the 10th to bring home Castro won the game. Grilli came in for the save in the 10th and gave up a walk but no hits to shut her down.
Next up? The Mets in New York City. The scheduling department did us ZERO favors early on.
Braves lose 6-1
Braves won 4-3 in extras