A winless series concludes with a truly galling Braves loss

The Braves were ahead. Then the Grandy Man went deep. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

The Braves were ahead. Then the Grandy Man went deep. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

The Wednesday loss bothered me more than the one that preceded it. On Tuesday the Yankees had to do something outrageous — six eighth-inning runs in the span of six batters, with an historic grand slam included — to prevail. On Wednesday they had only to stand back and watch as the home side did everything except win.

The Braves mustered 16 baserunners Wednesday night. They managed two runs. The Braves left 13 men on base, at least one in every inning. They managed 12 hits, at least one in every inning except the seventh. They were 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position, and one of the two was the rookie Andrelton Simmons’ bunt-for-a-hit single with Jason Heyward on third and one out, which Fredi Gonzalez conceded was “an aggressive mistake.”

This was a game that was harder to lose than to win, but lose the Braves did. They were swept in a series in which they made one error and outhit the Yankees 27-24. “We played good,” Brian McCann said, and that was the scary part.

This was a series that came down to little things. A night after Alex Rodriguez barely fouled off one 3-2 pitch from Jonny Venters and drove the next over the left-field fence, Martin Prado sought to squeeze home the tying run in the bottom of the eight. (This bunt had been called from the bench.) Instead Prado fouled Cody Eppley’s pitch to the screen. Two pitches later the Braves’ leading hitter grounded into a double play. One foul-off led to four runs, the other to two killing outs.

Said Gonzalez: “We lost three games, and we played two really good games and 7 1/3 of another.”

A professional athlete expects to lose on a bad night and to win on a good one. It’s losing on the good nights that leads to doubt, and doubt in a team is never a good thing. The Braves have lost four in a row after winning six straight. Even with an eight-wins-in-nine-games run mixed in, this team has lost 13 of 21. From 1 1/2 games ahead in the National League East on May 20, the Braves have fallen five games behind Washington — their largest deficit of the season.

Until the six-game winning streak, the Braves had hit better than they pitched. In this series they pitched better than they hit. They scored six runs, half of those coming off Matt Diaz’s RBI double against CC Sabathia on Tuesday, in 27 innings.  For the series they were 3-for-24 with runners in scoring position, and only one of the three hits actually generated a run.

Said McCann, whose fifth-inning home run was the Braves’ only hit of consequence: “We couldn’t get the big hit.”

Tim Hudson pitched well, but not well enough. Derek Jeter led off the game with a double in the gap and scored on A-Rod’s single up the middle. The Yankees made that lead stand until McCann hit his homer. But Hudson couldn’t hold his advantage long enough to get an out. Jeter — yep, him again — led off the sixth with a single to right, and Curtis Granderson hoisted a Hudson cutter inside the foul pole in right. “It cut the middle of the plate in half,” Hudson said, sarcasm dripping.

Said Gonzalez: “We had a lot of good things [in the series] — other than a win.”

It’s not as if the Braves haven’t beaten good teams this season. They took two of three in Dodger Stadium and two of three in Tropicana Field, and they swept the Marlins in Miami at a time when the Fish were flying. But the determinant in this series was a subtle difference in class: The Yankees didn’t do a lot but they aced the essential stuff, while the Braves saved their worst for the worst possible moments.

Gonzalez again: “It seemed like we were one pitch away the whole series.”

That has to nag at any club, to be so close and to walk away on the dustbin end of a sweep. It sounds weird, given that June has seen the Braves’ longest winning streak of the season, but this is a team headed the wrong direction. Even good teams know they’re going to lose 60 or so games in a season — that’s just the nature of baseball. Far more galling are the losses that come for no reason. Like Wednesday’s.

Is there time enough for the Braves to right themselves? Sure. Ninety-nine games remain. But these wild mood swings — the Braves have already had three losing streaks of four or more games — have to subside. The hitting has to pick back up, and the surge in starting pitching has to continue.

“I think this club is ready to make another run,” Gonzalez said, and maybe it is. But those words would have carried more oomph had his Braves managed to beat the Yankees just once.

By Mark Bradley

209 comments Add your comment

Stat Bully

June 14th, 2012
12:14 am

Second…and 3 for 24 overstates the Braves’ futility with RISP when two of those three hits never left the infield and failed to score a run (the bunt single you mention and Chipper’s 70 foot grounder to Jeter before Prado’s double play). My kingdom for a timely hit.

K Money

June 14th, 2012
12:15 am

John Leonard

June 14th, 2012
12:15 am

We lead the world in excuses.

Stat Bully

June 14th, 2012
12:19 am

Sorry, I meant Bourn hit the 70 foot infield hit right before Prado’s killer DP. But hey, it’s a hit with runners in scoring position.

K Money

June 14th, 2012
12:23 am

This Braves team is downright appalling in their lack of commitment to owning up to choking. I just can’t believe that the manager thinks this team played “2 good games and 7 1/3 innings of another” in this series… Lets see you score ZERO runs in one game, score 2 runs (on one Brian McCann swing) in the other, and give up 6 runs in 1/3 of an inning in the other, and that is playing “really good ball” according to you. Your team was shutout by a mediocre AL pitcher in game 1- and goes 0-9 or whatever with RISP in game 1, gets blown out in the 8th inning for 6 runs and a devestating Grand Slam to blow a 4 run lead in game 2, and then procedes to go what 2-13 with RISP again in Game 3, with one of those hits being a bunt single with a runner on third and the pitcher on deck. So that is ‘”good baseball” Fredi? What did we go like 2-35 with RISP this series? We out hit them 27-24 yet get outscored 12-6…how does a team get 27 hits and only score 6 runs in a series….because it is our lovely chokers the Atlanta Braves. Fredi, Wren, and a few of the cancers and chokers in the clubhouse need to be indentified and fired!! Only then can we get to the core of this organization and start to heal from this mess. Atlanta, do not expect even a postseason appearance with Fredi and Wren running with the current makeup of this roster, just not possible….


June 14th, 2012
12:25 am

I remember Bobby Cox babying young Tommy Glavine along in 1988-1990. To keep him and Avery, Smoltz, and others from losing 20 games a year, he would let them almost give up a lead. With a bad team bound to find ways to lose, Cox took good, young pitchers out with no more than the tying run on base. Usually that was into the 6th or 7th inning. If the team lost, at least the youngsters had some sense of accomplishment.

This idiot the Braves have now has no clue when to take a pitcher out of a game. Sometimes I wonder if he sleeps during games. Minor might have gotten out of the 8th last night. At least let him load the bases before taking him out. He earned that by pitching into the 8th. Tonight, runners on 1st and 2nd with a hitting pitcher at bat, with 1 out. He gives up an out moving the runners up to 2nd & 3rd. Why not let Hudson hit. He hit at Auburn. He can hit in the major league. Instead, he proved how well he can hit by placing a good bunt down – something no other pitcher on staff can do. But that forces a 2-out hit. That is what the Yankees do. Not the Braves. Then, he pinch hits for Hudson with a throw-away from the Reds organization, who only uses his bat to occasionally foul a ball off, but usually he just swings and misses. The same with Hinske. He is not the same as 2 years ago. A swing and a miss waiting to happen. I think it is time to have the manager fill out a surrender letter, rather than a lineup card. He needs to forfeit three to Baltimore, rather than play that group of under-achievers.


nota ptiching coach

June 14th, 2012
12:25 am

Does anyone know what happened to Leo Mazzone? He used to be on the pre-game show on AM 680 The Fan with Mark Lemke, Ben Ingram (sp?) and “the brain-dead heaver”?

K Money

June 14th, 2012
12:29 am


Why don’t you write an article asking for donations for Fredi Gonzalez to quietly resign from “managing” the Atlanta Braves. I garauntee that you would get $52 million dollars before midnight from Braves fans all over the country. We all know Frank Wren wont do it. How could he though…Fredi and him are supposed to ride their Harleys through Helen this fall…


June 14th, 2012
12:35 am

I keep looking for the Bowling programs but can’t find them on anywhere. At least I can see a Lacrosse game or two on watchESPN most anytime I like.


June 14th, 2012
12:38 am

On a happier note, the Roger Waters concert tonight was EPIC!!!


June 14th, 2012
12:42 am

Leo probably had to be taken off the radio because of watching this disgusting display of a team these days. If he’s still the hothead he use to be, he’d go into a cussing fit like I often do watching them. Thanks Braves for continuing the tradition of looking like jackasses against the Yankees. Oh and we know how you play against the Phillies and Nationals too so I look for the losing to continue against them too since you are so good at it. If I start to cheer for you losing all the time, will you start winning just because I want you to lose? I never can have a sustained amount of time of enjoying Braves baseball for BS like these past three games happening. It makes me sick and I am so tired of it. Mind you, I have been watching you since 1982.

When you get rid of that sorry manager you have and that sorry pitching coach you have then maybe things might change. Fredi Gonzalez is afraid of his shadow. That play on Simmons tonight when he was accused of swinging, Bobby would have been out there and still raising hell about it. Gonzalez does not do that so you can only imagine how he interacts with his players. They can’t possibly have respect for him because he will not defend them no matter what.


June 14th, 2012
12:43 am

This loss didn’t bother me as much as Tuesday’s loss. Some nights you simply aren’t going to get the big hit for whatever reason. Tuesday was awful because our manager failed to put in our closer when we needed him the most. I can live with leaving runners in scoring position, but I can’t stand mental mistakes from the manager. Oh, why was Chipper not pinch run for in the 9th????? Because our manager is a clown I guess.

Howdy Doody

June 14th, 2012
12:53 am

This Braves team needs leadership. Not named Fredi Gonzalez. More devastating losing streaks and questionable calls in 1 1/2 (almost) seasons than can stand.

Fredi Will Screw It Up Somehow

June 14th, 2012
12:53 am

“The Yankees didn’t do a lot but they aced the essential stuff, while the Braves saved their worst for the worst possible moments.”

Sums up the past 20 years for both franchises. And their managers.


June 14th, 2012
12:53 am

Easiest bet in Vegas- Yankees vs. Braves, every time….we may get swept again this next series.

not a pitching coach

June 14th, 2012
1:02 am

I admit it, I am a deep-eyed Braves fan and have been since 1968. On some occasions I’ve been the only fan in the center field bleachers at the old Fulton COunty Stadium. Especially if the game was an an afternoon game.

I lost a lot of respect for Don Sutton this afternoon, with his diatribe against fans who were mad because the Braves lost–no, blew–a 4-0 lead against the Yankees yesterday. He said we didn’t know much about inside baseball, and that’s probably true, most of us probably haven’t played pro baseball in our lives.

Johnny Venters wasn’t on his game, he said. And he wasn’t. But he wasn’t on his game the game before that either, and the games before that he wasn’t exactly a “lights-out” pitcher. This isn’t the Johnny Venters we knew last year. Something has happened to him. I wish I knew what it is so I could fix it.

But Sutton seemed to go out of his way to insult the fan base by implying that they were a bunch of nincompoops.

Maybe next year he can spend his summer on a tour of the vineyards of North America and meld that into a show about the wines of North America. I’m sure he’d do really well with that.

At least it would be a realistic show, instead of the phony shows like “House Hunters” that permeate reality TV these days.

Mountain Dawg

June 14th, 2012
1:03 am

Dr. Heavy Duty

June 14th, 2012
1:11 am

Freddi has no BB instincts for managing. He either pulls the trigger to soon or too late. If he had Bobby guts the hotshot ss would have been on the bench in 10 seconds after putting the game on Huddy’s shoulders. Where is the passion? Most of the folk on this site would get blown out of more games than Freddi does, but we would go down with everyone knowing how we thought.

I pay over $200 a year just to see the game from strike one to last out. I have been a fan for 46 years of my life…I am used to seeing failure…but doggone..at lest get pissed..throw a chair…admit it is a common feat for the Braves to score in one inning and laugh til the opponent blows them down.
This season is young..but Championships are won in the Spring, as well as the Fall. WS…can’t win it if you ain’t in it!


June 14th, 2012
1:15 am

DOB will be on that Harley ride also. That’s why they can’t be critical of Fredi.

Najeh Davenpoop

June 14th, 2012
1:15 am

Why didn’t Diaz pinch hit for Hinske against the lefty in the 7th inning with the runner in scoring position?


June 14th, 2012
1:27 am

FG “the robot” said, ” we lost 3 games, and we played two really good games, and 7 and 1/3 of another”. When was that, genius manager? I apparently fell asleep and missed all that. Oh, now I get it, he had a small TV tucked away in the dugout and was watching the Nats series against Toronto.


June 14th, 2012
1:29 am

Good things other than the win. Well as Steve Martin used to say, “Excussssssssseeeeee me.” This team lacks pitching no matter what radio and TV people say and winning coaches.


June 14th, 2012
1:34 am

This team is terrible. and not a bit fun to watch…

Mark Bradley

June 14th, 2012
1:36 am

Because Hinske had to stay in and play first base. Freeman had a sore finger.


June 14th, 2012
1:38 am

Which AJC writer will be first to suggest Fredi be fired? We know DOB can’t author that article so Bradley or Schultzie are your choices. My guess will be Bradley, the next question is when?


June 14th, 2012
1:39 am

PITIFUL!!! Pitching helps but what about scoring some runs.Why can’t our players manufacture some runs like the better teams.Lack of run support makes the pitching look bad.come oN HOF star Chipper Jones.Where is the clutch hitting “bench warmers”? PITIFUL!!! No body fears the lowly Braves.Get those kids from Parkview and let them show the Braves what winners are like.You want fan support start winning consistently. GOOD NIGHT!!!

Fed Up

June 14th, 2012
1:47 am

So on a night when Hinske (who is horrible against LHP), was the ONLY option at 1B – couldn’t even been PH for because of Freeman’s finger. Our genius leader in the dugout chose to NOT split up Heyward and Hinske in the lineup, by putting Simmons in between them? Which would have at least made Girardi remotely think about making a pitching change?

Yup. Fredi is our guy. Wow.


June 14th, 2012
1:49 am

Braves actually got a few more hits during the entire series. The difference was the Yankees clutch power hitting and there clutch pitching. The Braves simply do no have that. Thats exactly what you can obtain with a 200 million dollar payroll. Meanwhile…the Braves is 83 million.


June 14th, 2012
2:04 am

Things are what they are. The good news is that the Braves are still tied for 2nd place in the NL East; the bad news is that they’re now 5 games behind Washington, which is one of the biggest leads for any division leader. This loss also dumped them to 14-15 on the year at Turner Field; home field advantage has been so far non-existent.

So I’ll put it this way: depending on how things go, perhaps even over the next several days, the Braves could either begin the difficult task of clawing their way back to within striking distance of the Nationals, or be looking at a Wild Card-at-best scenario the rest of the season. And given their upcoming opponents (the Orioles and these same Yankees at New York over the next week), the prognosis unfortunately favors the latter. Who cares if you string together a few wins in a row if you give them right back; streakiness and inconsistency don’t win championships.

Fredie stinks

June 14th, 2012
2:29 am

Its 2:25AM. I bet FG is home in his big comfy bed sleeping like a baby. Does anything ever rile him? Get his blood to boil? We have watched him yawn his way through games for a year and a half now. Doesn’t matter if there are bad calls like Freeman getting called out when he got hit in the finger sliding into second; or Simmons tonight when he got plunked in the elbow. Bobby Cox would still be arguing those calls. Bet someone had to nudge FG to even go out to check on Simmons. Wonder who winds him up? He is as mechanical as they come.


June 14th, 2012
2:34 am

Hi Mark,

Couldn’t Diaz or Prado have played first base? Sure seems like it would’ve been worth it to have Diaz bat against Logan rather than Hinske.

Also, while I realize that Simmons’ bunt was not what you want him doing in that situation the fact is that his bunt was a fantastic one that Heyward should’ve easily scored on even if he didn’t know it was coming.

That said, nothing that happened before it even comes close to the ridiculousness of Bourn not stealing second base during Prado’s at-bat in the 8th inning. It was a no-lose situation since the Yankees almost certainly wouldn’t have thrown to second and risked Simmons scoring the tying run from third.

Even the extremely unlikely worst-case scenario of Bourn being caught stealing and Simmons not scoring still would’ve left them with the tying run on third with two outs and a good hitter batting.

As appalling as Tuesday night’s game was to watch go up in flames this loss tonight was nothing short of embarrassing.

I watched it in New York with my Dad, who’s been a huge Yankees fan since the 1930s, and after the final out was recorded he told me he couldn’t even believe how the Braves managed to screw that game up so badly.


June 14th, 2012
2:46 am

Nice to see Gonzalez think “outside the box” and use his closer in a non-save situation tonight, 2 bad it was 1 game to late! He should of been brought in with bases loaded and 4-0 in the 8th, no doubt about it! Hes young and hasent pitched since Saturday, your telling me pitching 30 pitches instead of 15 pitches is that big a deal?? Im not buying it!


June 14th, 2012
4:19 am

I don’t know why you people still watch the braves. They are to streaky of a team. You can’t go from losing eight in a row to winning eight of nine and now a four game losing streak(and who knows how long it’s going to go this time) and expect to even make the playoffs. Great teams like the Dodgers, Nats, Rangers, and Yankees find a way to not be so streaky like that. Also, great teams don’t suck at home during a current 9 game home stand (2-4 currently) and expect to do anything. I refuse to watch this team until Frank Wren decides that it’s time to start making some trades and shaking things up. I mean did he really think that the same team that blew it in September was going to come back and be bashers this year. COME ON WREN, it’s time to start doing something.

Stinger 2

June 14th, 2012
5:25 am

The Fredi bashers are having their chance to go full steam ahead during this tough losing streak. Likewise, Sonny Clusters has been unusually active with his anti-Chipper hogwash these days. Meanwhile, the sun continues to rise in the east each day. I can`t wait to see Clusters post today because it will be a repeat of the same old corny suff about how bad Chipper and Fredi are.


June 14th, 2012
5:55 am

Funny. Sutton said yesterday that he hated all the “crap” going around town about Fredi. He is like Leo, a house shill just trying to “keep it positive.” What a bunch of BS. Fredi is lost and the Braves are losers. Why can’t they just say “you know what, we really stink and we are sorry that we just choke and choke and choke. We are working on it but we have to own up to our stupidity and incompetence.” That would make me feel a little better about them. When people are in denial like that it offends me. BTW, I don’t watch them any more. They stink. FG must go. What imbecile hired him? What imbecile kept him after last seasons epic collapse? What imbecile keeps him on now?


June 14th, 2012
6:17 am

It would appear over the haul of the last 20+ games, Freeman’s eye problems and injury is really killing us. You can point to this and that in individual games but Freeman was our (and the leagues’s) big RBI guy the first 6 weeks of the season. Now he’s either out or not effective. Last night we couldn’t pinch hit Diaz in an obvious righty vs lefty spot because Freeman wasn’t available to take first base with predictable lefty vs lefty results. It was a formidable line-up with Freeman healthy in the 3 hole…now the production whether he’s in or out has went south.


June 14th, 2012
6:23 am

We are really missing the Freddie Freeman of the first six weeks of the season. We can point to this and that over individual games but we have to get him healthy and hitting from the 3 hole like he was pre injury(s). It’s no accident that his issues are one of the reasons we have faltered over the last 20+ games. One more big bat would have put us over the hump in a lot of these close games.


June 14th, 2012
6:28 am

the sports media tries to dismiss freddy g’s “folksiness” and bobbling tongue press conferences are examples of a lil “bobby cox” in him, especially the way he refuses to diss individual players at said press conferences. i’m not fooled; this guy manages a baseball team the same way it sounds coming out of his mouth: stuttering and bobbling. this man has absolutely no track record of success and the practice of extended nepotism continues to bite this average organization. i caution people to not hang their heads over each and every right or wrong decision made by freddy g. by the end of the season, you too will have enough evidence that this guy is nothing more than average and the braves picked a consistent loser to manage this ball club. if one can rebutt my argument, then lord help you. look around this town; none of these teams, college or pro, have no clue what “championship” quality smells like. it just “swepted” it’s way through town.


June 14th, 2012
6:30 am

The Braves will not even be a 500 team much longer. Looks like 4th place in their division is coming.


June 14th, 2012
6:33 am

everything cannot be blamed on the manager, but guess what: everybody has injuries, the braves are mostly a “homegrown” team, they held on to all of that pitching and now it’s blown up in their faces. for all his antics and arrogance, wouldn’t you rather have bobby valentine? at least you know he can manage. last time i will say this: the day terry francona was free, should have been the day freddy g. should have been “released.”


June 14th, 2012
6:43 am

MB, note Diaz has played 1B (2 games in 2007 for the Braves). I think the Braves should have Diaz work on his 1B skills, having a RH hitter who can play 1B would help out.

Another option would have been to put Diaz in LF, and have Prado play 1B. Prado has played 52 games at 1B in his career.

Herschel Talker

June 14th, 2012
6:44 am


Fredi is literally delusional.



Scott Brantley

June 14th, 2012
6:45 am

K Money–You are on the money!


June 14th, 2012
6:54 am

The Braves are an average team. Nothing special. Ownership and upper management have decided to spend just enough for the Braves to have a wild card chance. Then maybe catch lightning in a bottle in the postseason.

Everyone needs to understand that the Braves of the 90’s are gone. The only way this changes is with a single billionaire owner that wants to win.


June 14th, 2012
6:55 am

Just face up to the fact that this team is not all that good. By NL East (or AL East) standards, not even middlin’. The ‘fault’ isn’t just the manager, although he hasn’t shown much ability to get whatever is the best out of thees guys, nor is it the players – they are mostly young, mostly pretty good (and as said above, that isn’t that great). Liberty Media can take most responsibility and Frank Wren would have to be a mixture of Houdini, Einstein and Walter O’Malley to get more….and he isn’t.
It starts at the top. But you can’t ‘fire’ an owner. We may have to just sit back and wait till Liberty has seen enough red ink and then we’ll see. The best we can do is make sure the ink is truly red. No more games for me. And I’d encourage all to simply ‘vote’ with their pocketbooks…and feet.
Don’t go. Try not to watch. Wait them out.
Then perhaps Bernie will come on in and spend.


June 14th, 2012
6:58 am

I have been an ardent Braves supporter since their arrival in Atlanta in 1966. I like to give the managers and players the benefit of the doubt considering they are the Professionals playing in the Big Show. That said I have problems with FGs management and style on 3 accords: 1)He changes pitchers within a game too frequently, starters or relievers. If a pitcher has his “stuff” that night, why pull him for an unknown who may have an off night? Case in point-Minor Tuesday night. Obviously sometimes a SP has to come out but his hook is too quick,IMHO. 2)He sits the starting position players too frequently. The starters are starters because they are better players, let them play. Especially Heyward, I believe an All-Star in the making. 3) No fire. Get out and argue some bad calls. Stand up for your players. Actually get tossed from a game; sometimes it fires up the team.


June 14th, 2012
7:28 am

Livan Hernandez needs to be released.

Put Medlin in the rotation and have Minor pitch in long relief. He has been pretty good the first time through a lineup, he really falters the second and third times through.

We will still really lack a #1 starter…but with Hudson, Hanson, Beachy, and Medlin we might have 4 #2 starters and a decent #5 in Delgado.

Need to see if we can work a trade w/ Padres or Cubs or Twins, teams that all seem out of it completely.

Wilson, Hernandez, Francisco just are not adding much. At least Diaz rakes vs LHP, and Hinske is not too bad vs RHP.

And we need Ross to get a few more starts against LHP, he is hitting .350 w/ an OPS of 1200 vs LHP. Maybe not a pure platoon, but against tough lefties, Ross needs to start. And he does a great job w/ the pitchers, and is an excellent defensive catcher.


June 14th, 2012
7:33 am

When you maintain a collection of PROVEN losers and chokers together (from last September), what do you expect? The Braves are LOSERS. THEY CHOKE AT ALL THE BIG MOMENTS of a game. They always do. Its who they are. It’s their makeup. Winners find a way to win. Losers choke, when given opportunities.
Don’t ever fire Fredi. He’s the perfect manager for this team of chokers. He proven it last September. He’s continuing even today.
Why are the Braves “…one pitch away…one hit away…?” Simple. They are losers, to a man. They can’t get the job done. They choke. They are who they are.


June 14th, 2012
7:36 am

Sherman’s quote after the Battle of Atlanta:

“Behind us lay Atlanta smoldering and in ruins, the black smoke rising high in the air and hanging like a ball over the ruined city.”

Still apropos.


June 14th, 2012
7:38 am

Would some local guy with deep pockets please hurry up and buy this franchise?