We learned a couple of things this week, after being swept in straight sets by the Reds and the Nationals, as the Braves have lost seven in a row and have been outscored 38- 18 in those games. One of the things we learned is that the Nationals are a real baseball team. Another is that the Braves may not be. Oh, I’m not going to pull the plug on the season just yet; it’s only May, after all, and we have an entire summer swoon to look forward to.
But this team has weaknesses. The weakness I’m worried about isn’t even the offense; hitters typically warm up over the summer, and we’re missing a lot of really important bats. This team’s weaknesses are the men who toe the rubber.
Tonight, Brandon Beachy, our best pitcher, took the mound to try to be our stopper. And, in typical fashion, he pitched well. But, also in typical fashion, he was extremely inefficient, and had to be taken out after five innings, in which he’d allowed three runs — two unearned, thanks to the first of Tyler Pastornicky’s two errors tonight — on three hits, with seven strikeouts against four walks. No one can hit Beachy this year: he’s giving up 5.9 hits per nine innings. It’s his walks that elevate his pitch counts.
Beachy isn’t a problem with this team, but his early exit exposed the bullpen, which is a problem. After letting Beachy start the sixth, Fredi yanked Beachy immediately after he plunked Danny Espinosa and put in our long man, Livan Hernandez. Livan then uncorked this sequence: walk, single, sac bunt, double, strikeout, single, single, groundout. Four runs later, it had gone from a 2-2 tie game to a 6-2 laugher, and the way this team has been swinging the bats, the game was basically over. Livan then gave up a really long home run to Bryce Harper in the 8th, by which point it didn’t matter.
There’s probably more to say but I really don’t want to. Watching this team is about as enjoyable as being stuck in gridlock in a car with broken air conditioning outside a paper plant.
This song is not by Simon Collins. Simon Collins is far too good a musician for this team. This song is by Alvin Stardust, a fifth-rate British pop singer who used to be a failed rock singer named Shane Fenton. (His real name is Bernard Jewry.) This song reached number 7 on the British charts in 1984, and it is one of the worst songs of which I am personally aware.