ATLANTA — As up-and-down as the Braves’ offense has been this season, they have rarely been shut out. With a 4-0 loss to the Marlins on Saturday, Atlanta was held scoreless for the first time since Aug. 23 and for just the ninth time all season.
Five of those shutouts came in the first month of the season.
Neither team took batting practice because of a pretty strong thunderstorm that hovered over Turner Field about two hours before first pitch. The rain cooled things off a bit, and unfortunately, it also seemed to put a chill in the Braves’ bats.
They managed nine hits, all singles, but hit into three double plays. Threats in the sixth (two runners on) and eighth innings (bases loaded) each fizzled with the same two batters at the plate — Andrelton Simmons struck out and Freddie Freeman grounded out.
"We got the bases loaded and that’s what you always shoot for with your guys and we got the right guys at the plate," said manager Fredi Gonzalez. "We got Simmons in that situation you have Freeman in that situation and you know you might be able to get one or two runs out of there and it just didn’t happen."
As has been noted before, Freeman’s struggles with the Marlins continue this season. He did have a hit against starter Jarred Cosart but is now 4-58 (.069) overall against them.
Speaking of Cozart, he kept the entire lineup off balance all night thanks to his sensational cutter.
"It’s not often you see a guy especially a starter who throws that many cutters," said third baseman Chris Johnson, who was 0-3 against Cozart.
"He maybe only threw a handful of two-seamers or four-seamers tonight so he was cutter, curveball. It’s a tough pitch against right-handers and left-handers so he was good at it. He was spotting it up, he was inside-outside so it’s something we got to get used to with him being in our division now."
Say this for the veteran, good night or bad, he gives the Braves innings.
Only five times this season has he gone less than 6 innings and only twice has he gone less than 5 innings. This, however was his second straight start of less than six innings, going 5 2/3 and giving up four runs (three earned) on seven hits.
"They got some timely hits," said Harang. "I made a few pitches they were able to put in play."
He allowed a solo homer to Donovan Solano in the first inning and then retired the next seven batters before a two-out walk to Christian Yelich in the third inning came around to score.
He set down the side in order in the fourth and got the first two outs in the fifth before running into trouble again. He gave up three straight hits, allowing another run to score, but was able to escape further damage and left the bases loaded.
More trouble ensued in the sixth, aided in part by passed ball from Evan Gattis that brought home the fourth run of the game. Harang took the blame for the mix-up, saying he saw curveball when Gattis actually called for a fastball.
" I didn’t feel as loose today as I have in the past. You know I was getting ahead early in the count, but they were just able to get some timely hits in key situations. … You’re going to have those days. Obviously Cozart outpitched me today and he threw the ball well."
Harang has now lost three of his last four outings.
The Braves had some uncharacteristic trouble on defense, committing three errors — all in the eighth inning. It was the first time since August 20th they had made an error. and you have to go all the way back to April 9. 2012 to find a three-error inning. According to Stats, Inc. Atlanta had three errors in that game against the Astros, all in the third inning.
Tommy La Stella, Simmons and Johnson each committed an error in the inning. La Stella’s was a tough fielding play while Simmons and Johnson each made wilde throws to first.
Oddly enough, the Marlins did not score a run in that eighth inning.