Braves’ week in review: a bullpen meltdown

The ups

Rookie 2B Tommy La Stella made his major-league debut Wednesday night in Boston, going 2-for-4 and throwing out a runner at the plate. Deposed 2B Dan Uggla had two hits in his past 33 at-bats.

The Braves took two of three games from Colorado last weekend, winning consecutive series for the first time in four weeks.

B.J. Upton is figuring things out. Though his .258 average over the past eight games entering the week won’t blind anybody, he is making solid contact more often. He scored eight times during the last nine-game homestand.

The downs

Take your pick. Monday’s galling 8-6 loss to Boston — the Braves led by five runs in the fifth — was the worst of the season. The next night, losing 6-3 after leading in the seventh, wasn’t far behind. Thursday’s 4-3 loss — they led into the eighth — was simply galling.

The bullpen, a solid component for the first two months, was brutalized by the Red Sox. In 11 innings against Boston last week, Braves relievers yielded 15 hits, 11 earned runs (9.00 ERA) and walked 11 batters. That makes for 43 percent of 60 batters they faced reaching base.

Situational hitting, a bane all season, reached new depths on Tuesday and Wednesday night, when the Braves twice loaded the bases and failed to score either time. The team average with runners in scoring position is .227, 24th of 30 major-league teams. Their .161 average with runners in scoring position and two outs is 29th in the majors.

Hot

LF Justin Upton. In his past 12 games entering the Miami series, he was hitting .429 with 14 RBIs and seven runs scored. Ten of his past 18 hits have gone for extra bases (six doubles, four homers).

RF Jason Heyward continues a steady statistical climb, having hit safely in 15 of his past 17 games entering the weekend. Since May 11, he is batting .318.

Ryan Doumit, who beat Milwaukee last Thursday with a ninth-inning pinch-hit single, entered the weekend with seven pinch hits, tied for most in the majors. He has four hits in his past nine pinch-hit at-bats, including two doubles and a home run.

Not

First, Tyler Pastornicky was given a shot at second base. Then he hit .185 as a starter. Then he hurt his calf. Then he was sent to Gwinnett.

It’s bad enough that Andrelton Simmons’ sore ankle kept him off the field. It’s worse that Ramiro Pena, his replacement, is in a 2-for-19 slide.

Questions

1) Who gets Dan Uggla’s locker?

2) So who’s the birthday boy?

Answers

1) Not so fast. Who takes his slot? Philip Gosselin? Jose Peraza? Those guys need at-bats, not pine time in the majors. The Braves have 21 million reasons for finding a trade partner.

2) Third base coach Doug Dascenzo turned 60 on Friday.

Thoughts

Even Gattis missed four games with a stomach virus. Then he missed a couple games with a sort wrist. In between, he hit home runs on consecutive at-bats against Colorado. They used to write songs about stuff like that.