After being swept at Dodger Stadium, the Braves are trying to keep perspective

Atlanta Braves designated hitter Marcell Ozuna tosses his bat as he runs to first on a single during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Los Angeles, Sunday, May 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Atlanta Braves designated hitter Marcell Ozuna tosses his bat as he runs to first on a single during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Los Angeles, Sunday, May 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

LOS ANGELES – Lifeless, the Braves took their final at-bats of the afternoon and of a road trip they will leave in the past. In the last couple seasons, the Braves have rarely played as poorly as they did over these last six games, and it cultivated with more disappointment.

The Braves were swept at Dodger Stadium with Sunday’s 5-1 loss. They lost five of six games on this road trip, their only win coming on Wednesday in Seattle.

They are headed home. A Monday off day could serve as a nice reset.

This was a trip to forget.

Five observations:

1. At this point, the Braves face a balancing act: They need to act quickly and snap out of this, but they also have to keep perspective that it’s early May and struggles are inevitable in this game.

“Keeping in mind that it’s the beginning of May, it’s still early in the year,” Max Fried said. “Obviously you want to be playing good baseball year-round, that would be ideal. But at the end of the day, you’re gonna have ebbs and flows, and you try to make sure the rollercoaster doesn’t go too high and too low. But when you do hit those lows a little bit, you gotta be able to figure out how to get back out of them. I trust and have a lot of faith in this group that we’re going to be able to kind of right the ship.”

The Braves have lost five of their last six games. To fans, it may seem catastrophic. But it can also be easy to become so focused on one bad week that you lose perspective of the bigger picture.

For context: Last season, the Braves lost five of six games three different times – once in May, once in July and once in September. And that team finished with a majors-best 104 wins.

The difficult part about this skid: The Braves’ world-class offense is nowhere to be found. And all they can do is keep working until it returns. It’ll be back, but when?

Then there’s the division. The Braves, who had MLB’s best record when they arrived in Los Angeles, fell into second place in the National League East.

The Dodgers outclassed Atlanta this weekend. It’s a long season.

Both can be true.

“Most teams are gonna go through stretches like this throughout the course of a season,” Matt Olson said. “The best ones are the ones who honestly don’t care a lot about it and flush it. I know the kind of team we got. Go treat Tuesday (against Boston) like any day.”

2. In Sunday’s eighth inning, Shohei Ohtani, the Dodgers’ $700 million player, launched another ball over the wall for his second home run of the day and his third of the series. This was the Dodgers’ third home run of the game.

The Braves hit three home runs on their entire six-game road trip.

“You check in on guys and see where they’re at mentally, and guys, they’re doing their work, they’re doing everything they did when they were hot,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It’s what happens. We’re an offensive club. We’re a slug team. We haven’t been doing that. But we will. We’ll just keep working at it and eventually – you know, you just have to fight your way through these situations.”

Since the start of the series with Cleveland on April 26, the Braves have hit only four homers – second fewest in baseball over that span. That’s four homers in nine games. Entering Sunday, the Braves were hitting .191 during this stretch, which ranked 27th in baseball. They had the second-lowest OPS in baseball, at .528.

On Sunday, Atlanta collected only five hits – same as the Dodgers, but Los Angeles connected on three homers. Dodgers starter James Paxton turned in his longest start of the season as he held the Braves to a run over 6 2/3 innings.

The Braves would’ve been shut out if not for Marcell Ozuna’s solo shot in the seventh.

“We’re a good team, there’s no doubt about that,” Snitker said. “But you know you’re gonna go through these things. If you’re lucky, it’ll only happen once. And most of the time, it happens more than that. That’s why we play for six months. It’s such a grind and you have to weather these things. Because it happens. And there’s not one thing you can do to get an offense going. You’ve just gotta stay with it and eventually it’ll turn in your favor.”

3. Fried didn’t pitch poorly. He hung two curveballs – one to Ohtani in the first inning, another to Teoscar Hernández in the sixth – and they left the yard.

Those were enough for the Dodgers. The Braves have scored four or fewer runs in nine of their last 11 games.

“It’s frustrating, knowing that we needed to come out and win this one to avoid a sweep,” Fried said of giving up the homers. “It’s a tough one. But I know we’re ready to get back home and get this thing right.”

But this is a terrific Dodgers lineup, headlined by its top three: Mookie Betts, Ohtani and Freddie Freeman.

After complimenting the opposing lineup, Fried said: “I learned real quick that only a couple (bad) pitches can really hurt you.”

4. A play that perfectly encapsulated the road trip: In the seventh inning, Olson laced what looked to be a sure double – except it had a perfect bounce off the right field wall and went right to Hernández, who turned and fired to nab Olson at second.

Something good occurred, then something bad followed it. Momentum zapped.

The next batter, Ozuna, homered. It could’ve been a two-run home run, but it’s difficult to fault Olson for trying to stretch a 114-mph rocket to the wall into a double.

“We didn’t swing it the best this whole road trip,” Olson said. “Faced some good arms along the way, too, Seattle and here. It’s gonna happen sometimes, and go back to work.”

For Olson personally, getting thrown out at second was particularly brutal. He got credit for the single, but he’s batting only .197 with a .676 OPS. He isn’t Atlanta’s only struggling star, but his slump is perhaps more pronounced because of his incredible 2023 season.

In Los Angeles, Olson took a few great swings. He nearly homered on Sunday, but the ball went foul.

“I mean, yeah, look, you don’t want to be hitting under .200, but that’s where we’re at,” Olson said. “Like I told you guys a few days ago, it always feels like you’re a swing or two away – maybe keep a couple balls fair, have something drop. But it’s feeling better and just continue to get on the right track.”

And in the eighth inning, he made an error on a ground ball to his left at first base. It didn’t matter. By then, the game was over.

The Braves’ offense had no answers for Dodgers pitching.

“I mean, we’re struggling offensively, there’s no doubt about that,” Snitker said. " …We haven’t been hitting on all cylinders. It happens. Guys are working hard, they’re doing everything right and it’s just not translating on the field right now. You go through that.”

5. On Tuesday, Reynaldo López will start versus the Red Sox at Truist Park. Wednesday will bring a fun storyline, as Chris Sale will face his former team for the first time.

The Braves are off on Monday and Thursday. They play on Tuesday and Wednesday. Then they go to New York for three games against the Mets over the weekend.

They hope to return to form as soon as possible.

“Nobody’s down in the dumps,” Olson said. “Baseball is gonna happen sometimes, especially when you see the caliber of arms that we saw this road trip. But yeah, just flush it and get it Tuesday.”

Stat to know

4th - Some perspective on how small sample sizes can dictate how we view a team: Despite their recent slump, the Braves still have the fourth-best team batting average (.258) and OPS (.742) in baseball.


“I mean, you never want to come into a series and get swept. We come here expecting to win every day. For us, it’s important to understand and honestly assess ourselves. But we’re still a really good, talented club, and we’ve got a lot of baseball left.”-

Up next

After Monday’s off day for the Braves, Tuesday’s game against Boston begins at 7:20 p.m.