Kimbrel is undone by Infante, and this believer says, ‘Uh, oh’

Is the former skipper waving goodbye to the postseason? (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

Is the former skipper waving goodbye to the postseason? (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

I had my lecture notes ready, and the subject was, “Patience, children.” The Braves had overridden a 4-1 deficit through much help from the opponent and were one out from victory, and victory would mean a 3 1/1-game lead with eight remaining. And Craig Kimbrel, Mr. Automatic for the People, was on to do what Craig Kimbrel does, and after a nervous couple of days — heck, a nervous couple of weeks — order was set to be restored.

Then Craig Kimbrel, who had yielded one home run in his first 97 big-league appearances, was touched for his second in two days. Doing the deed: Omar Infante, former Brave and author of five homers this season. And the lead’s down to 2 1/2 games with eight left, the Cardinals somehow having gained ground on a night when they faced Roy Halladay and the Braves were one out from victory.

And now I say, “Patience? It can be overrated.”

As of Sunday afternoon, I was convinced the Braves were still in fine shape. They were 4 1/2 up and had a one-run lead on the Mets, and the Braves with a one-run lead this season have been safe as houses. But Jonny Venters started walking people, which Jonny Venters sometimes does, and this time he couldn’t tiptoe out of it. One blown save, one game lost on the field, one game lost (after St. Louis beat Cole Hamels on Sunday night) in the standings. And now this reversal in Miami. And now …

My faith is, shall we say, undergoing a test.

Even in a season where Dan Uggla stopped hitting for three months and 40 percent of the rotation has gotten hurt, these Braves have been able to bank on their bullpen. It’s why they were 8 1/2 games in front the morning after Labor Day. It’s why they figure — figured? — to be a tough out in the postseason. But now the bullpen is showing the strain, and if that goes then what’s left?

I don’t know the answer. I’m not sure I want to know the answer. All I know for certain is this: I no longer consider the Braves a postseason certainty.

On paper, they still should make it. But some games are so galling they make you wad up that paper and toss it in the trashcan.

By Mark Bradley

222 comments Add your comment

Chris

September 19th, 2011
10:42 pm

This was one tough loss!!!!

Chris

September 19th, 2011
10:43 pm

We will bounce back though

tyler

September 19th, 2011
10:44 pm

First and uh oh is right

THE BIG R

September 19th, 2011
10:44 pm

THIS ALL STARTED IN THE FIRST GAME OF THE CARDINAL SERIES WHEN BLOWING A 3-1 LEAD IN FIRST GAME OF THREE GAME SERIES WILL BE OUR UNDOING

j.j.m.

September 19th, 2011
10:44 pm

tyler

September 19th, 2011
10:44 pm

Really?

September 19th, 2011
10:44 pm

Yikes… 2.5 games out… trouble right here in ATL

Najeh Davenpoop

September 19th, 2011
10:45 pm

Obviously biased, but this would be worse than the ‘07 Mets if the Braves managed to blow this.

Mark Bradley

September 19th, 2011
10:45 pm

Close, tyler.

Chris with the kudos.

Chris

September 19th, 2011
10:45 pm

I say chipper carries us to the playoffs

Mark Bradley

September 19th, 2011
10:46 pm

This would be pretty bad — maybe not ‘64 Phillies bad, but in the ballpark. As it were.

Chris

September 19th, 2011
10:47 pm

Chipper carries us to the playoffs

Expect the Braves & Cards to be in a flat-footed tie on Fri...

September 19th, 2011
10:49 pm

Enter your comments here

Buzzboy

September 19th, 2011
10:49 pm

This just may be the wake up call they needed!

Hatmatbbat10

September 19th, 2011
10:49 pm

I’m in total shock right now as I just saw the replay of the home run. Having been there in person to see Venters and Kimbrel both give up runs yesterday, a second blown game seems almost unreal. I think the Braves can still make it, but they have to start winning soon.

Harpie

September 19th, 2011
10:49 pm

This team just has a losers aura about them…

PhilsFanFromNJ

September 19th, 2011
10:49 pm

Sorry the Phils could not help you guys out with some more wins against the Cards. After they clinched the division on Friday night, they have lost a lot of the intensity they displayed the first 145 games. Only consolation is that the Braves will be playing the Phils the last 3 games of the season where most definately AAA players will be in the lineup for most the those 27 innings, so you should have 3 wins there.

Chris

September 19th, 2011
10:49 pm

Sorry bout double posting

Herschel Talker

September 19th, 2011
10:50 pm

MB:

Why on paper should they still make it? The Cards have a joke schedule from here on out, and the Braves play 2 more against FL, 3 in DC (where they don’t play well), and 3 against Philly. Please explain to us why on paper this means they should make it.

HT

NickGranite

September 19th, 2011
10:51 pm

Not as bad as either of those two collapses. You lose your one and two for a month, it wreaks havoc on your pitching staff.

Just A Fan

September 19th, 2011
10:52 pm

The slide REALLY began when Chipper ran his mouth about this team being able to beat the Phillies.

Mark Bradley

September 19th, 2011
10:52 pm

And say this for the Phillies: Apart from Ryan Howard, who’s hurting, they’ve gone with first-stringers after clinching the East. Can’t fault their professionalism. (Not that you ever would.)

tyler

September 19th, 2011
10:52 pm

I still think we get it done but this is getting ridiculous, we have looked terrible the last few weeks. What has happened to our bullpen?

ATLien

September 19th, 2011
10:52 pm

Now we have a rookie (Delgado) and good ole Derek Lowe pitching the next 2 games. Stick a fork in us…we’re done!!!

McCant

September 19th, 2011
10:53 pm

When is Fredi going to take the pitch calling responsibility off of Brian McCann? Stupid pitch selection all night. First, he calls pitches to where Stanton can reach them. Then he calls an 0-2 inside fastball to Morrison. Then you call a fastball inside to Omar when you know he won’t be looking for the slider. Plus he went 0-4 at the plate yet again. Nobody knows it, but this one is on McCann. Fredi or Roger need to call the pitches.

Herschel Talker

September 19th, 2011
10:54 pm

tyler:

What are you watching? What makes you think we get it done? That’s laughable.

HT

DetroitBraves

September 19th, 2011
10:55 pm

@The Big R – I’m with you. It felt like if they won the first game in St. Louis that would have about finished off their charge. Instead…..well here we are. If I remember correctly, there were a lot of people in the comments here worried about Venters and Kimbrel being overused earlier in the season such that they may wear down in September. Particularly when Venters might pitch in a game the Braves led by 4 or 5 runs. Again, here we are.

Mark Bradley

September 19th, 2011
10:57 pm

The reason they should get in: They’ve got the lead. St. Louis (or San Francisco) has to rely on somebody else to beat the Braves.

Mark...a question...

September 19th, 2011
10:57 pm

Is it me, or does the team play with less energy, less ‘urgency’ since Constanza was relegated to the dugout and Heyward took his place?

Hatmatbbat10

September 19th, 2011
10:59 pm

McCant – just because the pitch was there doesn’t meant McCann called for it. The pitcher probably just missed the spot. I’d still want McCann calling the pitches any day.

Mark Bradley

September 19th, 2011
10:59 pm

They seemed pretty urgent when they trailed 4-1 tonight.

But baseball is a weird game. It’s the one sport where momentum matters the least. (Although on a night like this that seems a strange statement.) One good start from one pitcher and everything can change.

Sonny Clusters

September 19th, 2011
10:59 pm

We never lost a grounder in the lights.

tyler

September 19th, 2011
11:00 pm

Talker- we are 2.5 up with what- 8 games left? This team didn’t get to where they are by getting lucky.we certainly haven’t played well lately but we’re still in the driver’s seat. Just gotta get it going this week. No reason to throw in the towel- you’ll be the first one on here congratulating ‘em once they get in….

Herschel Talker

September 19th, 2011
11:00 pm

MB:

I thought you followed sports since you are the ajc writer. In case you haven’t been following, relying on Washington to beat the Braves isn’t exactly much to rely on. It happens pretty routinely.

Look, we all know how it works. You’re not going to bite the hand that feeds you and say what needs to be said. We know you know a collapse is a given at this point. Just acknowledge it for all of us, and we won’t bring it up again.

HT

Mark Bradley

September 19th, 2011
11:01 pm

I seem to remember Billy Loes, a Dodger pitcher, saying he lost a grounder in the sun.

But that was back when the Dodgers were based in Flatbush.

Mark Bradley

September 19th, 2011
11:02 pm

I believe I can say this with some authority: Herschel Talker will not be the first one to congratulate the Braves.

Tn Hawk

September 19th, 2011
11:02 pm

Was the infield single in the 9th something Chipper should have made the play on? I didn’t see it.

lifelong Braves fan

September 19th, 2011
11:02 pm

Big R, you are right about that loss. magic number would be 5 if we had gotten that one. I honestly felt worse after that one than this loss, although this luck was crushing as well.

Herschel Talker

September 19th, 2011
11:02 pm

tyler:

This aint the same team that built that lead. The bullpen is obviously burned out, and we’re down to 1 quality starter. Not to mention our hitting sucks again. Nice try though.

HT

wes

September 19th, 2011
11:03 pm

I’m a diehard braves fan but this team has too many holes to be playoff bound. The best thing for this team to do is not make the playoffs. That way the GM needs to go out and spend some money and get a real left fielder, sit chipper on the bench or trade him and Derek Lowe. More good veteran bullpen help is need. TOO MANY ROOKIES AND SECOND YEAR PLAYERS. New HITTING COACH PLEASE. TOO Many close games. bullpen is trashed.

McCant

September 19th, 2011
11:04 pm

Ok hatmatbbat….can you explain to me why you would call an inside 0-2 fastball to Morrison and even put your young pitcher in the position to make a mistake? Can you explain to me why you call for anything on the inner-half to Stanton? Do you think Infante would be looking for or hit a slider in that situation? Even Joe Simpson said it was a bone-head call.

RaleighDawg

September 19th, 2011
11:05 pm

Someone, anyone, please help me to understand HOW ON EARTH Chipper was NOT charged with an error when he did not field that easy grounder ?

LakeDawg

September 19th, 2011
11:05 pm

From this observers perch, it appears the Braves don’t have the killer instinct that champions have. Philly has shown it all year long. The Braves were red hot going into the all-star break, but lost concentration and the Phillies pulled away. Several times during this current slump, the Braves have had chances to put games away, but don’t. Take tonight for example. The Braves had scratched back to tie the game. Great! However, they still had the bases loaded with Chipper and Uggla coming to bat. They get one run from an error. After taking the lead, it looks as if the Braves rested on their laurels the next two innings, where it appears they didn’t have the same focus in their at bats. Two three up and three down innings later the lead was still very precarious. All it took was losing a grounder in the lights and a pitcher’s mistake. Braves should have put more distance between them and a possible loss. Its been a recurring theme. I still think the Braves make the play offs BTW.

todd grantham

September 19th, 2011
11:07 pm

a MONUMENTAL collapse. Was Bobby Cox waiving waving good bye to the Braves postseason hopes?

Braves fan NYC

September 19th, 2011
11:07 pm

It’s a miracle we’re still up 2.5, considering we haven’t had our best 2 pitchers for a long time.

Sonny Clusters

September 19th, 2011
11:07 pm

“A hunting we will go, a hunting we will go, Heigh ho, the dairy-o, a hunting we will go!” Deer season begins soon.

Mark Bradley

September 19th, 2011
11:07 pm

Ultimately it’s the pitcher’s responsibility to throw the pitch he wants. He has the ball. He can shake off his catcher.

DetroitBraves

September 19th, 2011
11:08 pm

Honestly, I don’t know if Chipper throws out Bonafacio with his speed even if he makes that play. As for the Kimbrel pitch selection, agree with &hatmatbat10. It was the location, not the pitch. If he had hung a slider everyone would be saying he should have gone with his best pitch, which is the fastball. Don’t believe me? See Wohlers, Mark – circa 1996.

todd grantham

September 19th, 2011
11:09 pm

Maybe Bobby was waving good bye to Fredi’s tenure.

tyler

September 19th, 2011
11:09 pm

Very true Mark- once i hit submit i thought better of it….he loves to hate.