Everything seemed to be going against the Atlanta Braves in Friday’s road game against the Philadelphia Phillies, as balls were called strikes, doubles were called home runs and the hosts benefitted from each and every umpire miscue.
In the end, despite mounting a four-run top of the seventh inning thanks to a three-run homer by second baseman Dan Uggla and a sacrifice fly by shortstop Andrelton Simmons, the Braves were unable to overcome a 5-0 deficit, falling 5-4 in the first game of a three-game weekend series and consequently dropping their third consecutive contest.
Starting pitcher Paul Maholm wasn’t horrible for Atlanta, allowing five runs (four earned) on nine hits in six innings, although he really wasn’t fooling anybody either.
Phillies starter Cliff Lee was spectacular through six, but the wheels fell off in the seventh, as he gave up four runs on four hits in that frame alone.
After each starter departed, the game turned into a battle of the bullpens, with one of the best relief corps in Major League Baseball (the Braves) hooking up with one of the worst (the Phillies). Surprisingly, Philadelphia held its own, which resulted in a one-run victory over a team that has owned the Phillies over the past few seasons.
Unfortunately, such owning of National League East division rivals hasn’t held true for the Braves this week, as Friday’s loss came on the heels of two straight defeats at the hands of the Miami Marlins, who they beat in the opener of a three-game home series on Tuesday.
On this night, the Braves seemed to be fighting against the umpires, themselves and Lee. That was all just too much for them to overcome.
And while Atlanta is capable of making amazing comebacks, it doesn’t need to rely on such rallies to carry it to victories on an everyday basis. The fact of the matter is that the Braves are much better at outslugging other clubs by jumping all over them early than they are at putting together miraculous late-inning scoring barrages.