Slumping Braves get slammed and swept at Cincinnati

CINCINNATI – Randall Delgado had already given up two grand slams this season including one last weekend, and the Braves weren’t going to risk him giving up a third at the most homer-friendly ballpark in the National League.

After the Cincinnati Reds loaded the bases against Delgado with one out in the sixth inning Thursday, the Braves brought in Kris Medlen to face Devin Mesoraco. To say the move backfired would be a major understatement.

Mesoraco crushed the third pitch from Medlen, driving it into the second deck of the left-field seats for a grand slam that sent the Reds to a 6-3 win and series sweep of the Braves at Great American Ball Park, their first four-game sweep over Atlanta in more than 20 years.

The Reds have six-game winning streak, while the Braves have lost five out of six and seven out of 11 going into their much-anticipated weekend series with NL East leader Washington at Turner Field.

“Obviously I expected to go in there and throw one pitch and get out of it with a double play, but I fell behind and had to go  at him,” said Medlen, who gave it up on a 2-and-0 fastball. “I feel bad for Randall. You hate to go in there and give up someone else’s runs with the bases loaded. But like I said, I fell behind and had to go after him.”

The last time the Braves were swept in a four-game series was in April 2009 at St. Louis, and the last time they were swept in a four-game series by the Reds was in April 1990 at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.

They hit just .150 with eight runs in the series, and have hit .167 with 12 runs in their past six games.

Leadoff man Michael Bourn hit his third home run of the series for the Braves, but they lost five of their last six games and finished 2-5 on a trip that began on a promising note with a series win at Tampa Bay.

It took on a distinctly different feeling as the training room became increasingly crowded in Cincinnati and the Braves went down four nights in a row in a hail of home runs and with most of their own sluggers missing all or part of the series due to injuries or illness.

They’ve played a majors-leading 29 road games in their first 46, and now return to Atlanta for a six-game homestand starting Friday against the Nationals, who hold a one-game lead over the Braves.

“If we had been at full strength it might have been a little different outcome,” said backup catcher David Ross, who played the last three games in place of flu-ridden Brian McCann. “But it is what it is. You go through those things in a season. We’re anxious to get home; we’ve been on the road a lot.

“Get some rest in our own beds. We can’t be down on ourselves — we’ve got Washington coming to town.”

The Braves had a 2-1 lead after five innings without McCann, Chipper Jones or Freddie Freeman in the lineup, and things were going well until Delgado gave up two walks, a hit and wild pitch in a span of the  four batters of the sixth.

“I just thought the inning unraveled a little bit on him,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “It just got out of hand. It’s a ough position to put Medlen in, with no wiggle room. He got a ball out over the plate and he hit it out for a home run.”

After Juan Francisco hit his second home run of the series for the Braves in the seventh inning, Drew Stubbs added leadoff homer off struggling reliever Jonny Venters in the bottom of the seventh to re-fortify the Reds’ lead.

Braves pitchers gave up 10 home runs in four games in the series.

“You don’t blame the park for anything,” Medlen said. “Our hitters are just as capable of hitting fly balls out of here, same as them. Can’t blame it on the park. It was a fastball down the middle and he hit it. He’s a big-league hitter.”

The Braves had six homers in the series, but only 13 other hits in four games.

“Well, most of our bats were in the dugout sitting with me, with Freeman and McCann and Chipper,” Gonzalez said.

Bourn’s two-run shot in the fifth inning gave the Braves a 2-1 lead. But the lead, the game and the series went up in flames in the bottom of the sixth, when Mesoraco tore into a 2-and-0 Medlen pitch for the 16th homer off Braves relievers this season, tied for the National League high.

Delgado (2-5) pitched well for the first five innings, allowing six hits, one walk and one run in that period. But he ran into a familiar source of trouble in the sixth – the leadoff walk. Brandon Phillips walked to start the inning, and Chris Heisey hit a one-run single to put runners on the corners.

After a mound conversation with the entire infield and pitching coach Roger McDowell, Delgado walked Todd Frazier to load the bases.

“It’s almost the same as the last start,” said Delgado, who gave up two walks and a single to set up Matt Joyce’s third-inning grand slam for Tampa Bay in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Rays. “We paid for both walks. I was trying to keep the game under control, but I couldn’t.”

Gonzalez called on Medlen at that point. The right-hander hadn’t given up a homer this season and had a 1.83 ERA in his past 15 appearances, but he fell behind in the count and left a 91-mph fastball over the middle of the plate. Mesoraco hammered it for his fifth homer this season and first major league grand slam.

The Braves were last swept in a four-game series in Cincinnati in 1980, but they’ve had plenty of frustrations in the Reds’ home park in recent years. The Braves have won just one of eight series at Great American Ball Park in the past seven seasons, and fell to 7-19 in that period at the stadium. They were swept in a three-game series in Cincinnati in 2009.

Bourn’s homer was his his fourth in 13 games, after hitting 13 homers in the first 749 games of his career.

62 comments Add your comment

Pat

May 24th, 2012
10:35 pm

We need to get the battle ax back ASAP to resurge the troops.

Daniel

May 24th, 2012
10:39 pm

Why would you even blame the park? Mesoraco’s hit was a shot and would have been out at Turner easily. Quit subtly making excuses.

Brett

May 24th, 2012
10:45 pm

well that road trip sucked… got to get the bats going again. I take solace in the fact that when we lose, its by a run or two, we dont get blown out often. got to get healthy, we will be fine.

atlrf44

May 24th, 2012
10:46 pm

check the Braves schedule for the next month…this isn’t going to get any better some time soon

Chris

May 24th, 2012
10:46 pm

Heck, it woulda left Yosemite Park

Dbo

May 24th, 2012
10:50 pm

DOB, is it just coincidence or cause for cOncern that the majority of the pitching staff is not doing great. The one thing they have in common is McDowell.
Maybe time to get rid of him?

What r you’re thoughts?

ATLien

May 24th, 2012
10:55 pm

Only one game out of first place. Gotta get healthy!!! What’s up with Mr. Venters though???

2011SeptBraves

May 24th, 2012
10:58 pm

<==============ALL OVER AGAIN

ane

May 24th, 2012
11:01 pm

I’ve thought mcdowell should have gone a couple of years ago. I’m not saying bring back Leo, but I don’t believe he is that competent as a pitching coach. Watching the decline of jj, perhaps watching ventors decline, not letting medlin start and delgados inexperience showing has not been pretty. While delgado is young making him an experiment in trainging a young pitcher is both not fair to him nor to the fans who expect major league baseball. mcdowell should go.

Hiway61

May 24th, 2012
11:03 pm

I agree on McDowell. Braves have won nothing since he’s been here. Pitchers can’t pitch, injuries,get worse instead of better. When they leave they get better. Look at Lowe..just saying.

Dbo—-DOB will not speak evil of a Coach are player..can’t blame him.

Truthiness

May 24th, 2012
11:05 pm

Well, the real Braves are back! Where you boys been?

Rick

May 24th, 2012
11:05 pm

“Why would you even blame the park? Mesoraco’s hit was a shot and would have been out at Turner easily. Quit subtly making excuses.”

So Medlen was subtly blaming the ballpark when he said you can’t blame the ballpark?

And I would be willing to bet he was responding to a reporter’s question about the effects of the park.

DaveinNEPA

May 24th, 2012
11:06 pm

Anyone who thinks this team is going to win anything this season needs a reality check. Right now they seem incapable of beating anyone but themselves.

Daniel

May 24th, 2012
11:08 pm

Well then the reporters are ignorant.

Brandon

May 24th, 2012
11:12 pm

how about this? javier vazquez left atlanta as an ace and got destroyed in new york. McDowell was also there when jj excelled and when venters excelled. Just because players are struggling, it doesn’t mean that it is the pitching coach’s fault. These guys are major league players and McDowell is certainly not the first instructor they’ve had. The blame should be more on the players than the coaches when it comes to performance. It would be like blaming Mickey Hatcher for Albert Pujol’s early season struggles.

And Derek Lowe has had the double play ball working wonders. All his other stats are almost identical to last seasons with the exception of his strikeout rate. It has dropped from 6.6 k/9 to 2.3 k/9 It is very safe to say that luck has been on his side

2011SeptBraves

May 24th, 2012
11:12 pm

Corky Miller > Jason Heyward

Brandon

May 24th, 2012
11:13 pm

@Truthiness – how can the real braves be back with Chipper, Freeman, and McCann out of the lineup?

Largo

May 24th, 2012
11:15 pm

The braves are a mess! Pitching (Venters is a wild man), hitting (none) and general attitude. I first thought my spring prediction of them ending the year in fourth place was going to be wrong, that they were going to be in the thick of things. Now, I’m wondering if they will finish that high in the standings.

M

May 24th, 2012
11:15 pm

The comments section under DOB’s posts always reminds me of Randy Quaid in Major League. You guys must be a hoot at parties.

Hiway61

May 24th, 2012
11:18 pm

Look at Leo’s resume while here and look and McD…no comparison. Don’t say Leo had better pitchers because all those great pitchers were young when they started under Leo. Glavine, Smoltz, Mad Dog, Avery etc were kids and you didn’t have all those injuries. The Bull pen wasn’t over used. Ok enough I’m wasting my time. Do your on home-work.
Why he didn’t do well in Balt…he had nothing to work with.
Why he never got back in baseball..ask him..maybe he did get the offer he wanted, that being the Braves job. Good night..Braves win tomorrow!

Ralph

May 24th, 2012
11:20 pm

ATLien

Only one game out of first place. Gotta get healthy!!! What’s up with Mr. Venters though???

Also only 4 games out of last place.

Largo

May 24th, 2012
11:22 pm

The Nats are coming to town. They have given up fewer runs than any team in the league. Their pitching is second to none. Hell, we couldn’t beat them when they were the worst team in the league. What chance do we have with no offense? I’m going to bed, good night all.

benchwarmer

May 24th, 2012
11:23 pm

Heyward’s batting average is heading south again. Looks like he has forgotten to use his newfound cure or something. Swing still looks too long and as long as that’s true he will not be able to hit major league pitching very well at all.

Hiway61

May 24th, 2012
11:24 pm

Lowe’s stats are not the same..everywhere he has ever played they are better than when with Braves. Insider did a report on that last week. Lowe has also said some bad thing about Braves pitching coaches since being traded..Per Insider report last week.

Art in TN

May 24th, 2012
11:27 pm

Oh no, 4-7 in the last 11! As if the season ended tomorrow… derp.

When everyone gets back to being healthy and we go 20-8 in July or something, the trolls will hunker back down under their respective bridges.

2011SeptBraves

May 24th, 2012
11:28 pm

Braves might as well hold a raffle at Turner Field every home game for fans who purchase tickets to that particular game. Whoever wins the drawing gets to ‘Manage The Braves For A Day’. It would be a great way to bring the attendance up, plus…..Fredi G sucks!!!

STRETCH

May 24th, 2012
11:32 pm

3-0 against the Rockies and Cardinals, 2-1 against the Rays and Dodgers but they really tanked against the Mets, Cubs and Reds…teams they should play a lot better against.

Chipper Jones continues to be the main man in Atlanta, but we all see what happens when the main man cant stay healthy. Then, Freeman cant see. What is it with Braves and their eyes??!!!

McCann once again finding another way to miss time in the lineup. He is in my opinion a liability big time!

And Grand Slam after Grand Slam? You can write a better script!

Folks, STOP raggin on Fransisco, he and Bourn were the only 2 players that showed up this series!

This team is serious trouble cause they have been exposed…HOMERUNS kill you everytime. Not to mention GRAND SLAMS! Mediocre pitching and hiting will keep them out of the post season.

reckingball

May 24th, 2012
11:36 pm

Things will get better. Keep your chin up, and don’t give up the ship.
go braves!

Brandon

May 24th, 2012
11:41 pm

@Hiway61 i enjoyed leo “rocking back and forth” mazzone.

Explain how bullpen being overworked is on McD? The manager (Fredi G) is the one making those calls and he usually unfairly gets ridiculed. People will complain that he overused oventbrel, then in the same breath they’ll talk about how he was stupid for all the games he brought proctor and linebrink and sherrill in. Its almost like people forget that those guys are what made up the bullpen. Who else did he have? The reason that the bullpen was overused was because the offense was garbage and the braves had a ton of extra innings.

Greg Maddux( my fav pitcher of all time by the way) had already pitched 6 seasons prior to coming to atlanta and had already won a cy young. He was successful long before mazzone and was fully coming to his prime when he arrived in atlanta.

Glavine took some seasons before he fully became elite, so i don’t see any difference in him vs a randall delgado at this moment.

Avery was not good his first season, then only had a few good seasons and then he fell off (playing under mazzone)

And I don’t know how much injuries can be related to mazzone or McD. I think over the years injuries have increased across the entire game. Its hard to blame McD. when hitters and pitchers all around the majors are getting injured more and more often.

Now this in no way was to bash mazzone. I just think that McDowell has done a solid job with the pitchers he’s had. Just trying to put things into perspective

Hiway61

May 24th, 2012
11:48 pm

Thats cool Brandon..at least we both fans ..wishing the best for Braves.

go-BRAVOS

May 24th, 2012
11:48 pm

The people who keep saying Medlen needs to be in the starting rotation need to just STOP it. PLEASE. The guy was a reliever up until 2008 in AA and threw 120 innings, a career high thus far. The most games he started in the majors was 14 games in 2010 and guess what? He blew out his elbow and had to have TJ surgery so please just give it a rest.
I’m a big Medlen fan but he is not going to solve the problems that this rotation has. Plus if he were starting right now he would be on an innings limit. I was an idiot too early in the year saying Meds should be starting but then I looked at his stats and realized he wasn’t a starter until 2008. He is a valuable piece of the bullpen and can help the team more in that role, at least for this year.

DOB, have you heard anything about Medlen starting or what the team’s plan is for him this year just so we can shut these people up?

Go Braves!

Brandon

May 24th, 2012
11:55 pm

@Hiway61 – 2011 stats: 10.2 h/9 0.7hr/9 3.4bb/9 6.6 so/9 .285 opp BA 1.51 whip FB%22.5 GB%59.0 5.05 ERA

2012 stats: 10.0h/9 0.3hr/9 2.8bb/9 2.3so/9 .286 opp BA 1.415 whip FB%18.4 GB% 66.5
2.15 ERA

2012 of course is a small sample size, but How does one have such similar stats, yet have an ERA about 3 points lower?

As I said, the double plays have been on his side this season

Brandon

May 24th, 2012
11:56 pm

Yeah @Hiway61 – just a friendly debate! Love talking baseball

ramblinwreck80

May 24th, 2012
11:57 pm

love the Braves…but this team is frustrating…and showed in Cincinnati how they can be shut down and how it will be tough to win a playoff series, much less the World Series…seems like several bats go cold at the same time…sorry but with these hitters you shouldn’t lose 4 games in a row to any team!

Brandon

May 25th, 2012
12:00 am

random: i think its about that time to move bourn to the cleanup spot haha

BRICKHEAD OKELLY

May 25th, 2012
12:02 am

Hard to believe these Bums,,,,,,,,,,,ah Braves swept the World Champ Cardinals in St.Louis a short time ago………………..Whats up with this losing 4 of 4 to the Reds?? Long road to Nashville anyways

BRICKHEAD OKELLY

May 25th, 2012
12:05 am

Shoot “No Show” Jones full of pain killer and lets beat H..out of the Nats. Somebody gots to pay for the damage the Reds did to fans egos. I bet all the Jack Daniels bottles got drained on that trip back to Atlanta. Hey they might play better with hang overs :)

JNick

May 25th, 2012
12:52 am

@Hiway61, where is this “insider” report you’re talking about? Links are vital to backing your story…

mrkb

May 25th, 2012
1:39 am

as a braves fan I would be embarrassed by this reporters continual rant about the cin ball park… it is so bush league to day after day bring this up.. i believe both teams played nine innings and the distance from home plate to the fences were not changed.
this reporter is a real homer

Kevin

May 25th, 2012
3:13 am

For the love of God can somebody teach Heyward how to hit an inside pitch? He still has a huge hole in his swing and pitchers are exploiting it every time. We should make a run at Roy Oswalt. Minor and Delgado aren’t getting it done. It’s kind of getting old to watch them get lit up.

Robbie

May 25th, 2012
5:33 am

That comment from Medlen about not blaming the park is exactly the mentality they ALL need but don’t have.

Charlie

May 25th, 2012
6:54 am

The Braves of September are back. The same 2011 Braves are still part of the LOSER / CHOKER culture are here in 2021. Franki Wren the the village idiot.

Disgusted

May 25th, 2012
8:10 am

The Braves will be in 4th place by Sunday.

Brandon–Well, JJ and Venters are not excelling anymore. I have mixed feelings on Mc Dowell who has won nothing here, but then again, the Braves are not run in the same way they were when Leo was here, and Mc Dowell has had bad luck with some prospects like Chuck James and Kyle Davies and Blaine Boyer due to injuries and Jo Jo Reyes because Jo Jo just could not get it together between the ears for MLB.

There are some positives in the Mc Dowell tenure, but the results are not good enough.

This org from top to bottom is not good enough. Look at the mediocrity since 2006. The Braves are a laughing joke of mediocrity, and last September was over the top.

Disgusted

May 25th, 2012
8:11 am

Kevin—Maybe Heyward is not good enough, say what you will abut teaching the guy how to hit but if he cannot make adjustments then no hitting coaches can make him better.

Heyward is not the first hot shot big league prospect to turn out to be of journeyman caliber.

Disgusted

May 25th, 2012
8:14 am

“That comment from Medlen about not blaming the park is exactly the mentality they ALL need but don’t have”

Actually, to the credit of both Minor and Beachey, they did accept accountabily that they mislocated some pitches. I did not hear much blaming the park.

Bottom line is that the pitchers and the whole team has to get better ASAP or else they will fall back toward 5th place in this tough division. .

Disgusted

May 25th, 2012
8:19 am

The sooner Venters is DFA’ed, the better for the Braves. He is a bum

Tennisbrave

May 25th, 2012
8:21 am

Just gotta tip your hat to those Reds for beating us four straight.

bill

May 25th, 2012
8:31 am

News Flash Joe Charboneau hired to be Heyward’s sports psychologist while Bobby Cox volunteers to work with Freddi on game management. OH s***

Tom

May 25th, 2012
8:34 am

I haven’t seen the stat, but I’d sure like to know the number of pitches the Braves hitters have seen per game during the past 7 or so games vs. the number of pitches they were seeing during their earlier winning streak. Seems they’ve reverted to their impatient hitting ways and are swinging at pitcher’s pitches early in the count.

bill

May 25th, 2012
8:36 am

I walked two batters and he hit a grand slam. We walked two batters and then I threw two more balls and had to throw a strike which he hit into the Kentucky twilight for another grand slam. We are trying a new procedure walk the bad hitters and go at the good ones. That way the bad guys do not hit the Homeruns, cause I hate to tip my cap to the 8 and 9 hitters. When do we go back to Colorado that park is pitcher friendly!

bill

May 25th, 2012
8:40 am

The east is really tough so the Braves season could really be psychologically destroyed by a sweep in Atlanta by the Senators/Expos/Nationals. The Braves appear to be relaxing after they rose from the last seasons debacle. Early celebrating in a 162 game season with no post season?

CRMAC300

May 25th, 2012
9:06 am

Well, that series was ugly! Fortunately, the rest of the division is not playing any better than the Braves! Big series this weekend, hope to get the train back on the rails!

Gene in Columbia

May 25th, 2012
10:08 am

Never before have I realized what Chipper means to this club’s offense. I’m still not sure why this is true, but it sure is a fact that they hit better when he plays.

Winchester

May 25th, 2012
10:11 am

Small park and they pummeled us with HR’s. Small park and we hit can’t even hit, period.

They load the bases and hit grand slams. When we put people on we can’t even bring them home.

Their young pitchers throw career games. Our young pitchers embarass themselves.

When you don’t have hitting and you don’t have pitching you are in trouble. Our present standing is merely temporary. Wait til Washington gets through with this sad sack team and the rest of our division wakes up from its long winter’s nap.

Don

May 25th, 2012
10:43 am

You are right Brandon – how could anyone possibly want to get rid of McDowell as the Pitching Coach.
AFTER ALL:
We only had FOUR of our Five Starting Pitchers from last year COMMING OFF INJURIES.
And of all the large number of Starting Pitchers that we have had in the 6 or 7 years since Leo left and McDowell as been the Pitching Coach, there must be at least One or Two out of this large number of starters who have not ENDED UP BEING INJURED.
And all these Starters being injured, gives all of our great younger talented pitchers an opport;unity to pitch – so that they too may end up injured.
And remember how great JJ and Hanson were before they were first injured – and they are not even close to that now — And who knows about Medlen – after his injury, he was not judged to be good enough to continue to be sa starter.

Don

May 25th, 2012
10:48 am

There are a lot of “get by” mnagers who are managing and who are available to manage.
But there are VERY FEW really GREAT managers.
And the TRUTH IS that Fredi AIN’T ONE OF THEM.
And the TRUTH IS that this AIN’T GOING TO CHANGE.
When you hire a Bobby Cox Clone, that is what you get – a BOBBY COX CLONE.

Don

May 25th, 2012
11:32 am

THE GREAT MYSTERY:
FACT: Pitching is the “name of the game” – by far the most significat determining factor in winning;
FACT, Since Leo left as Pitching Coach 6 or 7 years ago – of all the very large number of different Starting Pitchers that the Braves have had, almost EVERY ONE of them (who were in the rotation a reasonable amount of time) has ENDED UP being INJURED.
FACT, For example FOUR of the FIVE Starters from last season are COMMING OFF INJURIES.
FACT, many (PERHAPS MOST) injured Pitchers NEVER RETURN to being great or even very effective
MYSTERY — Why do the writers make NO ISSUE OF THIS when it is destroying the Braves’ chances of having a championship team for years to come.

bobby

May 25th, 2012
11:33 am

The Braves played in the same park as the Reds. They couldn’t even get hits let along homeruns.

hunter55

May 25th, 2012
11:50 am

The Braves pitchers should pitch in the homerun derby this year, that performance in Cincy was pathetic. Also can Heyward ever come up with a hit with runners on, instead of stricking out!!!!!!!

Done

May 25th, 2012
12:44 pm

Heyward back to normal! He is so pathetic!

don

May 25th, 2012
2:06 pm

This four game series couldn’t have been more embarrassing. The excuses are ridiculous. When you get past the first two batters in the order, no one can hit. McCann and Jones wouldn’t have made enough difference to produce a win. Freeman, when he did play, was pitiful. Pastornicky? Hinske? Ross? Diaz? Heyward? Medlen? These are major leaguers? You must be kidding.

This is not a playoff team and it doesn’t have playoff leadership- either on the field or in the dugout. They are going nowhere other than back home in October.

But the series was not without merit. As I said earlier, I learned that Phillips is superior to Uggla and Cozart is vastly superior to Pastornicky. I figured that was the case but the series removed any doubt.

Stiffneck

May 25th, 2012
3:30 pm

Come on Braves!!!!….it’s a long way till football season!

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