Oops! The Braves lose the sort of game they’ve been winning

The Padres tie it in the ninth. Note Billy Wagner's reaction. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

The Padres tie the game. Note Billy Wagner's reaction. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

It was a dark night in a sunny season. A great closer went out two runs ahead and came back with a blown save.

“He’s been perfect,” Bobby Cox said, speaking of Billy Wagner. Then, correcting himself: “Almost perfect.”

Right the second time. Because this is baseball, where nobody’s perfect. But sometimes you learn more about a club on a dark night that in the afterglow of the most improbable walk-off win, and here’s what we saw from Wagner late Wednesday:

A guy who blamed nobody but himself. Not the umps, not the fates, nobody but the guy who had the ball with a job to do and, for only the fourth time this season, couldn’t do it.

Wagner hated the fastball he threw to Scott Hairston, which became the home run that halved the lead. He could live with the ball Yorvit Torrealba drove into the right-field corner to tie the game: “He hit a pretty good pitch.” And sometimes it happens.

Said Wagner: “It was one of those nights. I didn’t have enough to get it done.”

He didn’t seek to downplay the loss. “This was a big game,” Wagner said. “If you win this, you win the series and you’re going for a sweep tomorrow. Now tomorrow’s an even bigger game for both teams.”

The Braves and Padres could well be playing this sort of game late in October. They’ve traded the National League’s best record these past two days, and they resemble one another in many ways: Good starting pitching, great bullpens, just enough offense. The Braves have 16 victories in their final at-bat; Wednesday’s game marked the Padres’ 14th.

And there’s really little more to say about this: The Braves had a chance but didn’t win; the Padres seized their chance and did. Fair play to the visitors. But now they play again this afternoon, a big-time series and the league’s best record again on the line.

“The night didn’t go our way,” Wagner said, “but we’re still confident.”

The Braves should be. They’re good. The Padres are, too. Thursday’s game is the final schedule meeting between the two, but that isn’t to say they won’t see another again. Best-of-seven for the right to represent the National League in the Fall Classic — how’s that sound?

142 comments Add your comment

JohnSmith

July 22nd, 2010
12:13 am

How on Earth are the Padres winning? Their lineup is anemic. For once, I agree with the sports pundits: it’s just a matter of time before the Giants or the Rockies nip the Pads in the bud. (No offense intended to Bud Black.)

J-Man

July 22nd, 2010
12:20 am

This shows that we NEED another bat in fact we only had one inning where we scored and we left too may runners on base, Yes Wagner had an off night but if we had another bat he wouldn’t have been out there

J-Man

July 22nd, 2010
12:21 am

We need more bats

JohnSmith

July 22nd, 2010
12:27 am

What we need is anyone not named “McLouth,” it seems. Hope tonight’s lackluster play on his behalf will earn him a trade. (Too bad we’ll likely end up paying most of his salary even after he goes.)

BCC0224

July 22nd, 2010
12:28 am

I’m just hoping this doesn’t have a ripple effect and cause the Braves to start losing the way they did in April.

I’m still more confident with Wags after the blown save than I did last year with Soriano and Gonzalez.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mark Bradley, Ashley Jacobsen. Ashley Jacobsen said: RT @MarkBradleyAJC: Billy Wagner is confused — he thinks he blew the game for the #Braves. We all know I did. http://bit.ly/c5pFIR [...]

Coach (2011 or Bust)

July 22nd, 2010
12:44 am

Games like this remind us all of why Cox is retiring. The man has always had a tendency to overuse his bullpen, and we saw the result of this managerial gaffe in evidence again.

When I say overuse, I’m really talking about misuse. As in when Cox uses his closer in non-save situations. Billy Wagner has appeared in 42 games and yet has just 22 saves. Yes, he has blown only four saves. Wagner has also made about 15-16 appearances that were unnecessary.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

Dr. K

July 22nd, 2010
12:48 am

I thought walking Salazar in the 12th made no sense. Hundley has been excellent in 2-out situations all year. He is far more accomplished as a hitter than bench jockey Salazar. Yes it set up a force and the Padres used their last available position player, however, you have to pick the weaker guy to pitch to. Bad strategy in my opinion.

enz

July 22nd, 2010
12:49 am

Phillies lost and the Mets are about to….It’s ok Wagner still has it and you know next year Venters wil have it. I just sat through the whole game at the Ted and our Braves are going to be fine!

PadFan

July 22nd, 2010
12:55 am

A lot of players quit when Wagner grabs the pill; the Padres didn’t. Heath Bell said in Spring Training, when the pundits all figured the Padres would finish so deep in the cellar that they would need sunlight pumped down to them, that the Padres would be going to the World Series. Anyone who hate premature obituaries, even Braves fans should hope that if the Braves don’t go, that the Padres so. Both the Padres and the Braves do more than expected with the talent they have and it would be great to see the two teams meet in October…with the same result as 1998. Remember the words of Bart Giamatti, “It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.”

JohnSmith

July 22nd, 2010
1:02 am

Well said, PadFan.

Now prepare to go down two outta three to the Braves on Thursday, I sez!

Mitchell

July 22nd, 2010
1:06 am

Doesn’t anybody see that this is the kind of thing that can give the Phillies and Mets a glimmer of hope.

It doesn’t matter that the Phillies lost and that the Mets might lose. That game to me plants a seed of doubt about this Braves team. I’ve said for a while that this division is their’s to lose and that could obstensibly be where it starts.

I realize that both teams have to play at a level they have not shown to be capable of to even have a chance but if the Braves give away another game like that, it’s only going to give them more reason to think it’s possible to catch up.

The lead is not that insurmountable by any means. The 2010 Braves just don’t play like that. That was the Braves of old. The bad old, that is. ‘06 to ‘08.

This is gut check time. Seriously. That was just unacceptable.

Fan since 1977

July 22nd, 2010
1:25 am

McLouth sucks.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by firescience , Vince Connor. Vince Connor said: Oops! The Braves lose the sort of game they've been winning: Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)It was a dark nigh… http://bit.ly/dh0yYD [...]

Dr. Jesse

July 22nd, 2010
1:58 am

Milwalkee has two fielders that are trade worthy and they want pitching starters and we have a good Japanese starter and a tradeable centerfielder.

If you did not think Wren made a good shortstop trade…two homers to one… the hitter is now hurt and cannot hit on the bench. Our new guy has already [by my count] saved us four runs with his glove. Lets see how things turn out as soon as YE is cut out of the fellowship due to not trying to play like a American leaguer and refuse to learn even basic English. KK can tell how hard it is to find a social part on the team when there is no communication.

McLouth does not suck but he shore nuff is licking this year.

JohnSmith

July 22nd, 2010
2:34 am

“Gut check time”?

Even the best teams give up a few of ‘em in a season. (Oh, and by the way, both the Phils AND the Mutts lost.)

The Padres played their brand of baseball and succeeded…barely. Let the rubber match decide who’s got some gut-checking to do, ‘kay?

Joe Thompson

July 22nd, 2010
2:47 am

This is a terrible loss for the Braves. Bradley is right. The Braves had it and lost it. They lost it because, tonight anyway, the Pads were the better team. If the Pads’ leave ATL winning this series 2 out of 3 it will put the Braves in a “funk” and will have a detrimental effect on their play for the rest of the season.

Ross

July 22nd, 2010
5:28 am

The post-mortem on this one is easy

1) Poor defense
2) Lineup without Infante and Diaz, the two hottest hitters
3) McCann’s lapses into “I’m Johnny Bench” mode

McCann blew the most important play of the game when he got himself out of position on the play at the plate in which the tying run scored. He’s done that a lot this year. Lately he seemed to be improving his defense but he lacks concentration. And then he has that gigantic home run cut that more often than not results in nothing but a nice breeze.

I will never understand why Cox anchors himself to “the book”. Diaz should play every day, all the time, regardless of who is pitching.

Ross

July 22nd, 2010
5:55 am

Here’s the tying run

http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=10143245

McCann has his left foot to the RIGHT of the plate an he’s way in front.

Here’s how to do it

http://www.5min.com/Video/How-to-Block-the-Home-Plate-134116076

The left foot is anchored on the LEFT side of the plate. This is just basic stuff that McCann gets wrong again and again. Ross needs to work with him on that.

Dr. Warren

July 22nd, 2010
6:17 am

I agree with Ross. Cox goes by the book to a fault, and a more innovative, nuanced approach after all these years could–would–make a big difference. Sometimes another team is just better, but 13 out of 14 times another team was better than the Braves? Mark Bradley will disagree, I’m sure, but the finger must to some extent point at Cox and his formulaic approach.

bob

July 22nd, 2010
6:19 am

Playoff preview.

LivinInAL

July 22nd, 2010
6:34 am

Braves used 7 pitchers last night. Have not seen Kawakami anywhere. Is he now considered totally useless? Did I miss a trade, or is it 7 million for this year and next for nothng?

Sloan

July 22nd, 2010
6:34 am

Too much doom and gloom from the peanut gallery here. Let’s wait and see how the Braves bounce back from this loss. For one, I think they will come out today extra motivated to prove a point by winning this series. My only criticism from last night is the inability to plate some more runs when we had men in scoring position in almost every inning from the 5th inning on.

BugKiller

July 22nd, 2010
6:59 am

I know he was only hitting 8th, Mark, but wouldn’t you have rather have had Blanco in the 8th hole, and not Automatic Out McLouth?

McLouth is the new Greg Norton.

Bobby is going to play him no matter how bad he is. No matter how badly he ruins the chemistry of this lineup.

Because is it just me, or doesn’t anyone else see that this team took off AFTER McLouth got hurt???

Bringing this guy back now is messing with the Braves’ mojo. Get rid of him. You can’t bury him on the bench, because Bobby will always find the absolute worst time to use him.

McLouth is going to ruin the season if Bobby has his way.

Cut his butt.

papadawg

July 22nd, 2010
7:30 am

We’ve been lucky all season but now our anemic offense is catching up with us

Tommy

July 22nd, 2010
7:32 am

One game out of 162.

Get a grip, people.

"WISE ONE"

July 22nd, 2010
7:33 am

WE NEED COREY HART NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

NCBravesFan

July 22nd, 2010
7:38 am

Tommy @ 7:32 – co-sign.

Trade Nate for a Bag of Balls

July 22nd, 2010
7:39 am

We should have won but Wags had a bad outing.

Anyways what alarms me about McLouth is that he always swings at first pitch. He does not work the count. In the 8th inning instead of getting a good pitch he swings at first pitch.

And he is very lazy in the outfield.

NOMORE BOBBY

July 22nd, 2010
7:41 am

Bobby will make this team implode.

ATLfan15

July 22nd, 2010
7:45 am

Well said BugKiller! They send Blanco, who’s hitting over .300, back down to Gwinnett in favor of a guy who’s coming off the DL hitting only .175?! Can we please (PLEASE!) get rid of McLouth?

About last night’s game: we can’t win ‘em all…and I have to give the Pads some credit; their offense came around when they needed it and ours didn’t. Enough said…now let’s move on shall we?

clay

July 22nd, 2010
7:45 am

Its so funny to see how with one loss everybody blows up and says cox does this and mclouth does that. Everybody knows that baseball is a TEAM sports and not an INDIVIDUAL sport. Yes Mclouth is bad we should of get rid of him, but as far as messing up chemistry. All of you who say that are crazy. Just go back and look at the Yankees season this year up till this point. There the best team in baseball right now record wise. I guarentee you that you can find a few games that they have blown and lost. It happens to the best of em sometimes. The goal is winning two outta three which they have a great chance to do today with huddy on the mound. Yes it would be nice to sweep, but ill take two outta three everytime and let the phils and mets get swept.

Hooter Girl

July 22nd, 2010
7:47 am

Amazing how you lose one game and its all gloom and doom for some. We need a McGriff type trade where we acquire premium talent for several border line players, not a Texiera deal where we give away the farm.

Craig

July 22nd, 2010
7:48 am

The only thing concerning me right now is with Glaus not having a homer in weeks and the power bats sort of silent, how can we not go after another right handed power bat?
Nomorebobby, it is to early for stupidy. Go back to bed and come back around 10:30 am when the other idiots wake up. WOW!

BugKiller

July 22nd, 2010
7:48 am

@ Trade Nate:

very good point.

Since McLouth got hurt, this team took off. Instead of Automatic Out McLouth, we’ve had Cabrera and Blanco and Infante… guys who WORK THE COUNT.

I know Wren and Bobby want to see if McLouth can come back, but is it worth it if he ruins the team’s chemistry?

I mean, he sucks more mojo than Fat Bastard.

It may be one game, but this kinda shows how delicate chemistry and mojo are to a baseball team.

McLouth is the odd man out. It’s time for him to go. Before Bobby designates him as Greg Norton 2.0.

reno

July 22nd, 2010
7:49 am

Nate still sticking with the one-handed upper-cut swing as if he is big tall guy (like “Helicopter-swing” Fred McGriff). It will not work for him, I fear.
Wags handles these “temporary setbacks” well – he’s a veteran and has “perspective.”
Fans that write on blogs, not so much.

redweather

July 22nd, 2010
7:52 am

Bobby will make this team implode? Huh? I think Bobby is doing a pretty good job with a lineup that isn’t exactly scaring anyone. The 2010 Atlanta Braves are overachievers and Bobby is part (maybe a big part) of the reason.

McCann out of position on the play at the plate? Maybe if Prado hadn’t bounced the relay about three times before it reached him, McCann would have been in a better position to make the tag.

McLouth is mclousy. It has been depressing to see him in the lineup again. Why must he play?

mountain_jim

July 22nd, 2010
7:52 am

Mclouth is just bad luck. We lost because he returned. Lose him to regain momentum.

Well that and Bobby wasting Wags on Sunday with a 4-5 run lead.

Gen Neyland

July 22nd, 2010
7:53 am

I didn’t know so many Monday Morning quarterbacks were two sport wonders. I’m impressed.

Furman Bitcher

July 22nd, 2010
7:54 am

The season is over. Trade as many prospects as possible.Fire Bobby Cox. We cant win this after that loss. Panic, panic, panic. OH NO!!!!!!!

Athenian

July 22nd, 2010
7:58 am

Bobby tinkers too much. Keep the hot bats in the lineup and ignore the scouting reports.

Trade Nate for a Bag of Balls

July 22nd, 2010
7:59 am

Iwould not be that upset if McLousy actually worked the count and gave us 110% in the outfield.

Kyle

July 22nd, 2010
8:02 am

I can’t see a team that can’t hold a 4-2 lead with their closer in the game being around in September much less October. The Phillies will be healthy by then and the cream will rise to the top.

Cecil34

July 22nd, 2010
8:03 am

“Sh!t happens” – Forrest Gump

papadawg

July 22nd, 2010
8:05 am

I call it as I see it and the Braves lineup except for a couple will not consistently score runs. Last night was 4 runs in 12 innings all in one inning. Pitchers have been bailing them out all season and STOP picking on one player. There is eight in the lineup

Furman Bitcher

July 22nd, 2010
8:08 am

The Phillies will be healthy then? Ha. Sorry kid, but they just dont have the team that they have had the last three years. They will be 10 games out in a week. Braves are a more complete team.

Furman Bitcher

July 22nd, 2010
8:09 am

Oh and at least the Braves have leads to blow. The Phillies havent had a lead in weeks.

Shug

July 22nd, 2010
8:13 am

Sorry to say, but I agree with Kyle. It’s tough to take a team seriously that blows a 2-run ninth inning lead. And I don’t care what kind of good attitude the Braves or Billy Wagner exhibit regarding the loss. Braves blew this one and it’s gonna hurt.

CSpin

July 22nd, 2010
8:16 am

We need MB not to call games in the 7th just because McLouth got a hit.

No, but really, some days I don’t think we need another bat, but seeing how much the Yanks are tearing it up, we need one.