It was the worst loss of the year. So why do I still believe?

"Don't worry, JJ. We've got Farnsy to nail it down." (AP photo)

"Don't worry, JJ. We've got Farnsy to nail it down." (AP photo)

If you want to call it the worst loss of the year, go right ahead. I won’t argue.

It was a classic Coors Field game, which is to say there was nothing classic about it. The Braves led by nine and lost by two. They used five pitchers, none of whom was Billy Wagner and one of whom was Kyle Farnsworth, and that’s never good. (I may have mentioned this, but the sight of Farnsworth has the same effect on me that a friend used to claim the appearance of Manny Acosta had on him.)

And I already know — from Twitter and Facebook — that some among you are saying, “This is the end. Playoff teams don’t lose this sort of game.” And that’s not entirely true. The Phillies lost a pretty horrible one last night to a bad opponent and took 16 innings to do it. And I’m pretty sure either the Braves or the Phillies is going to make the playoffs. Heck, I’m reasonably confident both will.

That’s correct. Even after the season’s worst loss, I still believe in these Braves. I still believe because it took them 127 tries to conjure up something this bad, and it happened in the place where the worst stuff tends to happen. I still believe because they’re coming home and they’re really good at home. I still believe because this is baseball, where momentum is tomorrow’s starting pitcher.

Back to the Phillies: Two weeks ago they scored four in the eighth and four in the ninth to upend the Dodgers — Jonathan Broxton had a hand in it — and some among you were saying (via Twitter and Facebook) that such a victory would propel the Phils straight to the top of the NL East. I remember writing (on Twitter) that baseball is a funny game and that a team that registers such a win could just as easily be shut out its next game.

The Phillies, on cue, lost 1-0 to the Mets.

The beauty of baseball is that it’s a long season. There’s almost always time to recover, provided you’re good enough. The Braves have spent nearly five months suggesting they’re good enough. What happened today makes for great blog fodder — we at AJC.com tip our figurative caps to the Braves and say, “Thanks, guys!” — but all the impassioned apocalyptic postings can be washed away with a three-game sweep of the Florida Fishies.

Don’t get me wrong. A team blows a nine-run lead and I’m as human as the next person. I say, “Gee, what a horrible loss.” And it was, beyond all doubt. But it was, I say again, one loss. And if it takes this epic waste to persuade Bobby Cox that perhaps Farnsy is best never deployed in a tie game — or any game, for that matter — maybe it was worth it.

610 comments Add your comment

Wat Wat Wat

August 25th, 2010
7:19 pm

Sucks getting swept.

But i have tickets to Friday and Saturdays game and i am going to be loud.

Wat Wat Wat

August 25th, 2010
7:20 pm

Too bad Halladay wan’t playing left last night. Might have gotten exhausted for today

misterwax

August 25th, 2010
7:21 pm

I remember back in the 60s when the Braves had a few games like this …It was either Furman or Jesse who wrote the Headline: “Braves hint start of Annual Fold-up”……say it ain’t so….

J Clay

August 25th, 2010
7:23 pm

I believe this is the visible beginning of the end, unfortunately. I still hope but I believe there are key issues that will prevent this team from winning the division:
- Continued sub par road play (8 under .500 on the year on road)
- Farnsworth/Ankiel trade was terrible. Not basing this only on today, have said it several times before. Farnsworth worse than Chavez or Kawakami no doubt. Ankiel has had a clutch hit or two but in the end, is just as bad as McLouth and worse then Melky and Blanco.
- Gonzalez bat has been a plus but is it really worth his defense? I’m afraid he’s allowed almost as many runs in clutch situations with poor defense.
- Early I know on this point, but D Lee does not look any better than Glaus in my opinion. I know Glaus was struggling but he carried this team and it seems like bad karma or mo-jo (whatever you want to call it) that they effectively kicked him to the curb
- Histrocial poor play against Marlins and Nationals – whom the Braves have 2 or 3 series with each before end of season

Wat Wat Wat

August 25th, 2010
7:24 pm

Mark do you think we might see Kimbrel get called up for the homestand?

Maybe send Farnsworth to spend some time KK to work out their kinks together?

the Acosta-Farnsy comparison is apt.

Mark Bradley

August 25th, 2010
7:26 pm

I’ll say this, Wat Wat: Gwinnett has got to be the highest-salaried Triple A team in the history of sports.

guerilllatraveler

August 25th, 2010
7:27 pm

Why did we all have that sneaking feeling that the Braves would fall flat on their faces in Denver?

Mark Bradley

August 25th, 2010
7:28 pm

A lot of it has to do with Denver, guerillatraveler. It’s a strange baseball place.

Ron Roberts

August 25th, 2010
7:29 pm

On paper, the deals to bring us Rick Ankiel, Kyle Farnsworth, Derrek Lee and Alex Gonzalez improved the ball club.

Can we start playing our games on paper and off grass?

Seriously, wasn’t Ankiel RAKING after the All-Star Break? Derrek Lee, too? Wasn’t Kyle Farnsworth pitching darts for the freakin’ Royals before he came here? What IS it about him in a Braves’ uniform that just makes him horrible when it matters? What IS it with Gonzalez’ defensive woes? What’s going ON with the bullpen walks?

I’m going to put on my ‘Coors Field’ blinders and just chalk it up the thin air (that was thin for both teams, mind you). Breaking pitches don’t break, and such; but we sure seem to be finding as many, if not more, ways to lose winnable games, then we are winning lose-able contests, lately.

KenDog

August 25th, 2010
7:30 pm

I’ve got a strange feeling right now – about the same feeling I had as a kid in Chicago watching the ‘69 Cubs…

KenDog

August 25th, 2010
7:30 pm

I’ve got a strange feeling right now – about the same feeling I had as a kid in Chicago watching the ‘69 Cubs…

willie g hates liberty media

August 25th, 2010
7:30 pm

this team will on be up 1/and one half after tonight and tomorrow 1 game after the philiies win tomorrow this game will be a brave killer and whoever chose tio bring farnsworth back needs to be whipped like a dog , with chains , the braves are going to let phiily win the damn thing again ahd by the way atlanta is not sweeping the marlins , thats a fact to, because johnson pitches sunday. the bravees will be looking for a wild card now they played around with a 7/1/2 game lead and blew it.

Let's Go

August 25th, 2010
7:30 pm

It’s not the fact that the pitching staff could not hold a 9 run lead that makes me feel angry but the fact that the Braves hitters basically did nothing after the 3rd inning. I mean they looked awful. Also, I’ve seen better fielding in the Little league world series this year than what this team did today.

KenDog

August 25th, 2010
7:31 pm

And I pressed the return key once, I promise…

willie g hates liberty media

August 25th, 2010
7:31 pm

the brave ssux write that

Bill

August 25th, 2010
7:32 pm

Stick a fork in them,they are done.Thanks Liberty Media.

G

August 25th, 2010
7:32 pm

It’s not just the loss but this has been a bad series. I would agree with Farnsworth and would also like to add Moylan to the list of guys that just is not getting it done right now. With all of that said, it needs to stop.

Arno

August 25th, 2010
7:32 pm

Better defense (Soon please!), and the Braves will be fine.

Bob Horner is crying in his beer

August 25th, 2010
7:34 pm

We’ll only have a 1 game lead when we play the Marlins Fri. night…..BUT…the Phillies will be out west playing the Padres and Dodgers….the Braves have stolen some games this year…today we got “stolen from”….it’s over…let’s win Friday nite…..

Ron Elgin

August 25th, 2010
7:34 pm

Well, it seems Bobby has just about thrown his relief pitchers a little too much in the early going. Venters has hit a wall, and I really do not know what happened to JJ today. Losing a 10-1 lead is just bad. But, just glad we do not have to play in that place any more this year.

OEJ

August 25th, 2010
7:34 pm

I don’t know what happened but how you blow a lead that big. I don’t know what to say. I don’t think the braves really want to win. At this rate they will drop in the rankings and lose the wild card and miss the playoffs. WHY ARE THEY SO INCONSISTENT.

bro

August 25th, 2010
7:36 pm

With football teams they call it the “killer instinct”. The braves don’t have that killer attitude. They get a lead and quit. Are they just stupid. Any little league pitcher can tell you that you don’t pitch C G low and outside–it only allows him to extend his arms. Also, you don’t allow Helton to do the same. You do not try and paint the corner on a pitcher who has never batted in the majors before. The hitters quit, the filders quit and the pitcher(jj) quit. You have to play nine no matter what the lead may be. Tell the Phillies not to worry- the braves will just give it to them. Cox is the absolute worse manager of pitchers in the league. You can’t pitcher two or three relievers everyday. Cox you gave up years ago.

J Clay

August 25th, 2010
7:37 pm

My guess is by game time Friday the lead will be down to 1 – I fully expect Phillies to take next two and split with Astros…This team needs to run off 6-7 in a row, but not sure they have it in them based on their past performance against some of the upcoming teams.

Mark – you should have given up on Farnsworth in 2005. You really think if he was worth a darn the Yankess would have ever let him get away?

Tech Sucks

August 25th, 2010
7:38 pm

No mention of Venters imploding, all Farnsy eh? Kind of ridiculous.

braves apologist

August 25th, 2010
7:38 pm

what is bobby doing??what a joke.this is why i am glad hes gone!!if you cant trust the bullpen why have them.poor johnny hes supposed go 2 innings every day,and where is our closer? he cant get more than 3 outs once in a while? i have said before ever since game 4 96 choke monkey!!!! i am glad he is gone at seasons end.gee maybe terry will get the job. what a joke.this hurts,and iam growing weary….

Dan

August 25th, 2010
7:39 pm

Man I miss Chipper, he was getting hot and was about to put this team on his shoulders and take them to the playoffs. Now we have to depend on Lee to do it.

Peter

August 25th, 2010
7:39 pm

How about the Easter Bunny or Santa ……. still believe there Mark ?

If Farnsworth, and Ankiel…..drop the ball are playing we are in trouble.

Mark….Bobby has burned out the bullpen for yet another year, thus today’s story.

You could believe on winning the lottery..someone has too……

I think you also believed the Hawks didn’t need a bigger front line……and you were proven hopeless wrong on that one !

Great job on trying to cheer up the Frustrated fans though !

Jason Foster

August 25th, 2010
7:39 pm

Agreed, Mark. I recall the Braves blowing an 11-2 lead against the Cardinals in 1992 and still making it to Game 6 of the World Series. I also recall when they blew an 8-1, eighth inning lead against the Mets in 2000 and still went on to win the division.

My concern isn’t that they can’t recover from this one loss, but that the look of the team seems to have been getting gradually poorer. The defense in particular has been disturbing. Something is different, and not in a good way.

OMG-BRAVES

August 25th, 2010
7:40 pm

I blame this one on Bobby for leaving JJ and Venters in for too long, am I wrong for this? I have seen Bobby do this time and time again throughout the last 15 years or so. Also, why is Terry Pendleton still the hitting coach? Has nobody noticed that our offensive production is wayyyy down since he took over or is that just me?

Ree Roe

August 25th, 2010
7:40 pm

Mark,

I think the karma of the comeback win over Cincinnati was bound to come back & get us. It’s disappointing to lose a game like this, but we still have the lead in our division going into a homestand. Let’s get FLA this wknd and forget about this debacle

-REEligiously Roe!!

Bob Horner is crying in his beer

August 25th, 2010
7:40 pm

J Clay…you are correct about the 1 game lead…BUT…the Philies have 7 games against SD and LA on the west coast….meanwhile we are at home against the Marlins/Mets….today sucked but it’s over…..but I like our chances in the next 8 days…to pick up a couple of games….

skip

August 25th, 2010
7:40 pm

Bradley, you’re a putz! The Braves are done! Good teams don’t lose these kind of games. If I’m wrong, I’ll buy you a beer. Manuel’s Tavern, you name the date.

TM

August 25th, 2010
7:42 pm

It take a whole team to blow a 9 run lead when leading 10-1 in the 4th inning.
And i do mean a WHOLE team, including the coaches.
1. JJ- should have pitched deeper in the game. 5.1 IP in a blowout situation is horrible.The bullpen should not have been taxed in this situation.
2. Every other pitcher that came in after JJ- see #1 explanation.
3. Manager (bobby Cox)- you get your struggling or injured players out of the lineup when leading by 9. This does two things: 1. it gets those players out of the game for rest. These players are the first to take a breath and relax in this situation. 2. it puts backups in the game that are hungry in a comfortable situation to add on to the runs.
4. All coaches- imperative to stay on top of the players to continue to hit and score runs. And play good defense.

Just because the game is out of hand, is not the time to abandon the above responsibilities.

The entire team dropped the ball and consequently lost the game. I don’t know who the leader in the clubhouse is, but they better have stepped up after the game today. AND LOUDLY!

Peter

August 25th, 2010
7:43 pm

Why is Prado playing third and not second……….why is Infante playing 2nd, when he played 3rd, when Chipper was out…….

Infante has NOT looked good at 2nd for awhile.

Dirty Dawg

August 25th, 2010
7:44 pm

As wonderful as it felt in the third, you could feel it coming after the fifth. The thing that first got me going was that the home-plate ump seemed to be thinking that the game was over in the top of the fifth when he ‘expanded’ the strike zone on the Braves hitters…then when Colorado started it’s comeback in the bottom of the inning the zone shrunk on the Braves pitchers. Hard-hit balls by the Rockies and nothing from the Braves…Jason’s failure to make a play on, admittedly, a hard-hit ball but one that he very well could have caught…a long foul ball that dropped a couple of feet from the line that Jason didn’t seem to be hustling for…a whole series of things that made you just know what was gonna happen. Then, mercifully, I had to take a call and the game ended without my seeing it. God, I would have probably kicked the dog and thrown a shoe through the TV.

Suppose Bradley could be right, but why is it that I keep thinking Kelly Johnson’s dropping a pop-fly in ‘08 that marked (so to speak) the beginning of the end? Seems to me that the only way I’m gonna avoid being ‘hurt’ by all this is to pretend that I don’t give a damn.

stew

August 25th, 2010
7:46 pm

Did anyone notice that three balls hit to the outfield should have been caught but weren’t. Every time Melky has to go back on a ball it’s an adventure. J-Hey also let a ball get over his head that should have been caught. Melky always takes a circular route to the ball and misjudges it. In addition, he is too slow. Also, he’s got no baseball smarts. He can’t sacrifice because he doesn’t give himself up. He’s such a duffy guy out there. We gotta get rid of him. Farns did a wonderful job against Tulo. Melky misplayed two balls that’s why we lost. Fowler’s triple should have been caught. J-Hey better get his act together also in the outfield. Andruw would have caught all 3 balls

cattle dawg

August 25th, 2010
7:46 pm

Where are all the Farnsworth lovers?

DaveinNEPA

August 25th, 2010
7:46 pm

Whatever you want to say Bradley, but there is just absolutely no excuse whatsoever for a Major League team, a division leading team at that, to blow a 9 run lead. None, zero, zilch, nada!!!!!!!!!

This was ugly!!!!

greg

August 25th, 2010
7:47 pm

Start with Frank Wren. He couldn’t leave well enough alone. The Braves were playing really well at the all start break. You should have left the team alone. Now you have a complete new infield, and they are playing like a brand new infield. The middle infield defense is awful. Ankeil in center field…really? Farnsworth was a bad trade. I said it then and I’ll say it again…they should have kept Blanco and let him play center every day. Bobby Cox manages the bullpen like he doesn’t have a clue, and now he has worn Venters out just like he does 1-2 relievers every year at this time. Ugh!

BTW…where the heck was Wagner? He couldn’t get the last out in the 8th and pitch the 9th as well?

Bob Horner is crying in his beer

August 25th, 2010
7:47 pm

@stew..I miss AJ too….good post dude…..he could flat out play CF…(and Yunel could flat out play SS)

Little Brave

August 25th, 2010
7:48 pm

NO THEY DIDN’T???? You know they could not lose after leading 10-1 in the 3rd inning!!! But I watched the replay and THEY DID, THEY DID!!!!! Can you say complacency set in and it was over . . . all those runs in 3 innings and couldn’t muster another threat in the remaining 6. Where’s the leaders, the coaches and the manager? Can’t anyone wake this team up enough to play a FULL NINE INNING GAME?

SR

August 25th, 2010
7:48 pm

Enter your comments here

SG10

August 25th, 2010
7:48 pm

Mark,

I tend to agree with you. I feel Braves needed this jolt to wake up and come out of rather ordinary performance. Despite going 5-2 in the last homestand, I felt we were creating pitching duel out of nowhere. Our offense needs to put up some consistent numbers, evenif it’s only 4-6 runs every game and the production needs to start from the first base and the LF

Reggie

August 25th, 2010
7:49 pm

Look I wanted Bobby Cox gone after 1998 but that being said todays loss was NOT his fault. As a pro with a 9 run lead and ur number 2 pitcher on the mound there is no excuse to why you give up a lead like that. But look at it like this…these things do happen, we did it to the Reds earlier this year when Conrad hit the grand slam to cap a great Braves comeback. I dont think the Braves and Phillies will both make the playoffs because we will beat up on each other while the Cards face off againts teams like the Cubs,Brewers ,and Pirates. Anyway you look at it this is a very damaging loss because i think Roy Halladay goes for the Phillies tonight.

Tom

August 25th, 2010
7:49 pm

Ok, here goes! Why was Venters pitching a 2nd inning, never saw that before. Farnsworth throws 95-97, why does he float some off speed stuff over plate to speed up hitters bat?? Too many errors, need to get back to infield and outfield practice before game. even if they are major leaguers. New Baltimore manager has his team do it, they are still not good but are playing better. Our best player Omar messed up double play before they got their last 4 runs in 8th inning. I guess it just happens some time. Lee is 3 for 25 since becoming Brave, did he really hit 4 home runs the week before trade? He has played in 2 series as Brave(Chicago and Colorado) best hitters parks in league. I still think Freeman(against RH) and Canizaries(against LH) would have been best choice. Lee has 2 grounders past 3rd and 1 single past SS for his 3 hits in 25 AB’s. This is horrible for a veteran player!! Ankiel should be used like Conrad off bench late inning for defense and pinch runner and occasionally start. We are not a playoff team, if we are, will be swept in 3 games??

Peter

August 25th, 2010
7:50 pm

Greg you are correct………..what was the Braves winning percentage when Blanco played ?

Frank wren brought in losers, not players……..

sam the sham

August 25th, 2010
7:52 pm

same old crap

Mark Bradley

August 25th, 2010
7:52 pm

By the way: The Reds led 10-1 this afternoon themselves. They’re now tied with San Fran in extra innings.

OldTimer

August 25th, 2010
7:52 pm

Nobody forgets a loss better than the Braves. Nobody. This game never happened.

JASon

August 25th, 2010
7:53 pm

Mark, way to stick to your guns, buddy. Don’t let down. I would be interested to know what it is that gives the home team such a dramatic advantage in this league. To be able to overcome massive deficits to win games in the late innings. You can never stop playing when you are away.