Three Cuts: Braves lose another marathon tilt, fall to Phillies in 13
The Braves are strangely making a habit of losing games in 13 innings -- by five runs. On Monday, Atlanta had numerous chances to break a 1-all tie late in the game, but eventually fell to the Phillies 6-1 at Turner Field.
Evan Gattis (left -- 16-game hit streak), Julio Teheran (middle -- one run allowed, six strikeouts) and Andrelton Simmons (right -- game-tying RBI in the 9th) were standout performers in the Braves' extra-inning loss to the Phillies.
Daniel Shirey / USA TODAY Sports
By Jay Clemons
ATLANTA -- Here are three things we learned from the Braves' 6-1 loss to the Phillies on Monday night (Tuesday morning), a 13-inning defeat that significantly stretched Atlanta's bullpen (what will become of David Carpenter's arm ailment?) and prompted the offense to (unofficially) tally a season-high in strikeouts (14).
(In case you're scoring at home, over a three-day span, this marked the Braves' second five-run loss in 13 innings.)
1. The Braves eventually paid the price for scaring the Phillies silly for four consecutive innings ... but only scoring one run
Atlanta's first six innings belonged to Philly pitcher Cole Hamels, who allowed just three hits and faced 21 total batters during that span.
Things turned slightly in the Braves' favor in the 7th, beginning with an Evan Gattis single (more on that later), a Justin Upton double (moving Gattis to third) and a Chris Johnson hits batsman to load the bases with zero outs.
For that scenario, the Braves' statistical odds of pushing across one run had to be in the 95-percent range. Especially with Tommy La Stella (batting .407 at the time) and Andrelton Simmons preceding pitcher Julio Teheran at the plate.
But La Stella lined out to third base and Simmons sharply hit into a tailor-made 4-6-3 double play to the end the inning.
In the 8th, with Atlanta down 1-0, B.J. Upton and Freddie Freeman collected back-to-back singles, once again putting the club in position to force a tie -- against the vulnerable Philly bullpen.
But Gattis struck out to close the frame.
The Braves finally broke through in the 9th, thanks to Simmons' seeing-eye, bloop single with one out, scoring Justin Upton from second base. For a brief flash, it appeared Upton wouldn't be able to score on the hit, given the ball's inordinate amount of air time.
But that also emboldened Upton to take a leap of faith right fielder Marlon Byrd wouldn't get to the ball, allowing the Braves slugger to make a mad (and successful) dash for home plate.
Everything was deadlocked at 1 ... with Ryan Doumit (pinch-hitter) and Jason Heyward getting subsequent chances to play the hero. But once again, strikeouts damned the rally.
The real punch-in-the-gut came in the 11th, though. With the score still knotted at 1, Freeman launched a one-out moon shot that had the initial look of an opposite-field, game-winning homer.
But somehow, someway, the ball thumped loudly off the top of the wall and then caromed at least 50 back toward the infield.
This allowed Freeman to easily reach third base and be in position to score the game-winning run.
Of course, from the Phillies' perspective, Freeman (3 for 6 vs. Philly) should never have gotten a chance to reach third. Left fielder Domonic Brown was seemingly in position to snag the ball at the wall -- without jumping.
But he apparently lost the ball in the lights and then had little clue of the ball's whereabouts after it careened off the fence.
Looking at the replay, it's entirely possible Brown thought Freeman's blast was a home run. His blank stare into the Turner Field stands was priceless.
But alas, Freeman and Gattis (intentional walk) would be stranded on the base paths, marking the Braves' best and final chance at pulling out the victory.
Two innings later, with David Hale getting the ball in the relief, the Phillies paraded around the base paths, collecting three hits and two walks and scoring five runs to ice the game.
For good measure, Philly (30-38) benefited from a crucial Freeman error with one out, allowing Ben Revere to score the eventual game-winner.
The latter innings were a daunting time for the Braves (36-33, 1st place in National League East) and skipper Fredi Gonzalez, knowing his bullpen already had limited availability before Luis Avilan, Shae Simmons, Jordan Walden, David Carpenter (exited with "discomfort" in this throwing arm), Anthony Varvaro and the aforementioned Hale took the mound after starter Julio Teheran.
The offense's lack of timely killer instinct didn't help matters, either.
"I'm not frustrated, because I know how much these guys come out and work," said Gonzalez, always the picture of optimism before and after games.
2. Julio Teheran apparently won't give up his All-Star bid without a fight
On the heels of his worst outing in a long time (seven runs, 10 hits allowed vs. Colorado on June 11), Teheran responded with a scintillating effort against the Phillies, surrendering just one run and four hits over eight efficient innings.
The 23-year-old righty fanned six hitters and walked none. For good measure, he didn't encounter more than five batters in a single inning.
"What a great outing Teheran had, so much that I thought about letting him bat in the 9th," gushed Gonzalez after the game. "But we were one run down at the point ... but he had a great outing."
Teheran's lone mistake of the evening entailed Ryan Howard belting a waist-high fastball (1-1 count) over the center-field wall in the second inning (leadoff hitter).
It also represented Howard's 45th career blast vs. Atlanta -- the most against any other opponent in his decorated career (19th at Turner Field).
Teheran has his All-Star campaign back on track. Heading into this start, he was enjoying top-15 fame among National League pitchers with victories (six), WHIP (0.97), opponents' batting average (.209) and strikeouts (79 -- now 85).
Which brings us to this: If we had to guess the National League's automatic All-Star starting pitchers right now ... we'd roll with Johnny Cueto (1.85 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, 109/22 K-BB), Adam Wainwright (9-3, 2.15 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 91/21 K-BB), Stephen Strasburg (3.06 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 113/20 K-BB), Madison Bumgarner (8-4 2.85 ERA, 104/23 K-BB), former Brave Tim Hudson (7-2, 1.81 ERA, 0.97 WHIP), Zack Greinke (8-3, 2.65 ERA, 92/18 K-BB), Clayton Kershaw (6-2, 2.93 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 71/8 K-BB) and the Cubs' Jeff Samardzija (2.77 ERA, 82/26 K-BB).
That presumably leaves one open starter spot from the talented cluster of Teheran, Gerrit Cole (Pirates), Jason Hammel (Cubs), Alfredo Simon (Reds), Shelby Miller (Cardinals), Ian Kennedy (Padres), Aaron Harang (Braves) and Josh Becket (Dodgers).
3. You don't need Ancestry.com to discover Evan Gattis's 138-year-old impact with the Braves franchise
Of the last 40 years, notable catchers Javy Lopez (214 homers, 1,148 hits), Brian McCann (176 homers, 1,070 hits) and Bruce Benedict (12 seasons with Atlanta) have accounted for 408 home runs and more than 2,900 hits with the Braves.
And yet, none of the trio stand above Gattis when perusing the franchise record book for "longest hitting streak by a catcher."
On Monday, Gattis's leadoff single against Hamels (six strikeouts vs. Atlanta) in the 7th bumped the hit streak to a landmark 16 consecutive games.
Can you believe it? The Braves franchise has been around since 1876 (originally as the Boston Red Stockings) ... and Gattis now holds its all-time team record for that category, among backstops.