OAKLAND, Calif. – It might be difficult to believe, but it is true.
The Braves lost a series to the Oakland Athletics, who are the worst team in baseball.
The A’s walked off the Braves in the bottom of the ninth as Atlanta lost, 2-1, late Tuesday night.
1. One of baseball’s best teams (32-23) entered the bottom of the ninth tied with the sport’s worst group (12-45).
The Braves went to closer Raisel Iglesias and asked him to send this game to extra innings.
He walked three of the first four batters to load the bases with one out.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” Iglesias said through interpreter Franco García. “It’s no secret that I throw strikes. I’m not one of those pitchers who sort of throws balls regularly, so for me, it was really challenging not being able to find the strike zone. Tried to make adjustments as the outing was happening, but couldn’t find it and that’s baseball, that’s the game.”
Iglesias then induced a grounder from Jonah Bride, but Austin Riley fumbled it and couldn’t grab it quickly on the ground. It looked as if the Braves could’ve had an opportunity to turn two and escape the inning.
Instead, the winning run scored from third as his throw to home was late. Riley was charged with an error.
That’s how the Braves lost.
“I was, for the most part, going home,” Riley said. “In between hops, it got in on me a little bit. It’s unfortunate.”
“It wasn’t that,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of the error not costing the Braves the game. “It was our inability to score.”
The manager is correct.
2. The Athletics entered this game with a 6.69 team ERA, the worst mark in the majors.
The Braves scored once – yes, once – on Tuesday. That gave them three runs over their first 18 innings in this series.
“It’s tough to say,” Riley said when asked if this is due more to Oakland’s pitching or Atlanta’s bats. “Not putting up consecutive hits, getting guys in scoring position. When we do, just not getting it done. We’re just in a rut right now. Not really sure what to put the finger on. It’s a tough go about it right now.”
On Tuesday, lefty JP Sears allowed only the one run over six innings in what was probably his best outing of the year. The A’s relievers shut out the Braves the rest of the way.
Atlanta came into this game ranked second in team OPS and eighth in team batting average. The club was also tied for second in home runs.
This is a dangerous offense.
But it has not shown up here.
Asked if Oakland’s pitchers have done anything to keep his team off balance, Snitker said: “They have, because we haven’t scored off of them. They’re good arms. We haven’t seen them, but that’s no excuse. Just haven’t been able to bunch anything together.”
Take a deep breath. The Braves are still nine games over .500. They’re in first place in the NL East and lead the division by four games. This is one of many series during a 162-game season.
3. Bryce Elder deserved a win.
He spun seven innings of one-run ball. He allowed five hits, and had five strikeouts and three walks.
He was excellent. Again.
He arrived at the ballpark with a 2.01 ERA, which ranked third in the major leagues among qualified starters.
It is now at 1.92 ERA, which is the lowest in the bigs among qualified starting pitchers.
“He’s been unbelievable for us,” Riley said. “Only put up one for him. That doesn’t sit very well. But he’s been great, all you can ask for.”
Elder has 16 consecutive outings of at least five innings pitched.
4. In the fifth inning, Elder had Esteury Ruiz down, 0-2, after throwing two sliders. Then he hurled another slider.
Ruiz singled to left field to score the only run off of Elder.
“Probably so, it was too much of the plate, especially in the situation,” Elder said. “But I really thought that if I executed a slider kind of down and away like I did, I thought it would get him out, so hats off to him for getting that hit. But yeah, I even told (catcher Sean Murphy) coming off, ‘Mmm, that might’ve caught too much of the plate.’ But that’s part of it.”
Before Ruiz’s run-scoring hit, Elder allowed consecutive singles.
And this, of course, wasn’t the reason Atlanta lost.
5. Asked how difficult it is to make adjustments during an inning, Iglesias said this:
“What I try to do is just try to take a step back and try to calm the nerves a little bit, step away from the mound,” he said. “But with the pitch clock, it makes it a little bit more challenging to sort of be able to gather yourself and get back in time to pitch. With that said, and obviously with the adrenaline of the game, and the aggressive lineup, the way they were swinging, it’s challenging to make those adjustments on the fly like that, especially if you don’t have the ability to kind of step away from the mound and gather your thoughts or even calm it down.”
Stat to know
11-45 - Oakland entered Tuesday’s game with the second-worst record after 56 games by a team since 1900.
“You’re always trying to look at the positives in this game, because there are so many failures. Tonight was a tough one. Just try to clear your mind as quick as possible. Got another one tomorrow, and come back and get ready for that one.” - Riley on the big picture
Braves lefty Jared Shuster will pitch against Oakland right-hander James Kaprelian in Wednesday’s series finale. The game begins at 3:37 p.m. ET.