It was not the Braves night, as they lost to the Dodgers 6-to-1.
From Medtober to Meldown: Bad puns aside, the blood-letting happened quickly, amplified by some spotty defense. Kris Medlen came out strong in the first inning, striking out the side. But then the Dodgers made contact with Medlen’s stuff. Whether that was a case of good hitters hitting a pitcher’s pitch to an area where the defense wasn’t, or whether Medlen’s command eluded him at times, the outcome was not a good one for Atlanta.
Bleeders, Bloops, then Blast! The Dodgers used every BABIP trick in the book. They were aided by some weird defensive shifts employed by the Braves, as Tom Hart tweets:
I'm not gonna say Andrelton was out of position, but I haven't seen the Braves move around this much pre-pitch all year.
— Tom Hart (@tom_hart) October 4, 2013
But that repetition of balls put in play weakly that found their way to a hit, then Medlen leaves one in the wrong spot and a an extra base hit ensues… that was a frustrating way to see the game unfold. Medlen’s pitches were moving quite a bit, and that might have crossed up the defensive shifts that the Braves were employing. Knowing that Medlen’s stuff moves around, the Braves should have played more straight-up defensive alignments. The Dodgers were able to hit the ball up the middle all night, as the Atlanta infield was shifted towards the lines. I hate to be repetitious here, but the approach against a guy like Medlen is to try and take him back up the middle; so why employ exaggerated shifts on defense when a pitcher like that is on the mound? Just play straight up in the field. I can’t tell if the Braves were over-thinking it or not thinking about it enough.
Downturn in manufacturing: The Braves had opportunities to score runs here and there, but couldn’t advance runners and manufacture an add-on run or two. I mentioned a few days ago that this would be a huge problem for Atlanta, as they have a swing-and-miss approach that waits for the 3-run home run. Yes, a couple of Brian McCann swings could have been home runs, but turned into unlucky outs. The Braves have to get better at taking advantage of scoring a run when they can. Going 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position is not going to get it done. The 3rd inning was the first example of this, when Simmons walked and advanced to 2nd base on a wild pitch — runner on 2nd and no outs. Elliott Johnson couldn’t move him to third; a huge fail by a guy who should be doing all the little things right. Actually, both in the field and at the plate, Elliott was very much Dan Uggla last night…
It’s not A-town, it’s K-town: 15 strikeouts by Atlanta hitters loom large in the missed opportunities department. Here is what I wrote in this week’s ESPN Power Rankings about the Braves:
October will begin with a big challenge for the Braves’ strikeout-prone lineup as they face the Dodgers’ swing-and-miss starting pitching staff. Will the Braves’ three-run home run approach work, or will they whiff their way out of the first round? They have a tough task ahead of them if they are to win their first postseason series since 2001.
Ugh. I do hate being right. Or do I…
My prediction: Last night’s loss is just part of the plan.
My prediction, because everyone has one: Braves win in 4, after losing game 1.
— gondeee (@gondeee) October 3, 2013
We’ll see… Minor vs. Greinke tonight at 6pm.