Bullpen bleeds away lead and then some as Alvarez, Astros defeat Braves, 6-4

What seemed to be an easy win for the Braves tonight came at the cost of a bullpen implosion. Even though the bullpen is not perfect, it is still a great bullpen, and even a good one. The Braves’ bullpen has been very good, coming into Friday night’s game tied for second in fWAR in MLB and fifth in WPA, with only two teams having fewer meltdowns.

Yes, Atlanta cruised through this game behind the most impressive performance of Elder Bryce, as Houston’s attack seemed to be torpid at the expense of what seemed to be the Astros’ first game in reaching the leadoff man with an error throwing by Austin Riley, allowing Alex Bregman to follow with an RBI double. After that, Elder coasted through, using two strikeouts and a lineout to center to escape the first double plays in each of the next two innings, allowing just a few stray baserunners while completing six frames with a final line of one unearned run in six innings, with a K/BB ratio of 6/1.

The Atlanta Braves, leading 4-1, scored a run thanks to a single grounded through the shortstop by Ozzie Albies. Marquis Grissom followed with a double, driving in two runs. However, Albies struck out swinging at a curveball off the plate. Eddie Rosario then walked, and Sean Murphy hit a double of his own, scoring Albies. Austin Riley jumped on a first-pitch cutter slider and scored with a double down the middle. The first half of the inning started with Ronald Acuña Jr. Hitting a double and a blooper, immediately causing the Braves to roar back against Hunter Brown of the Houston Astros.

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In the remaining portion of the game, the Astros bullpen prevented the Braves from scoring any additional runs. The reliever pitched for 2 and 2/3 innings, maintaining a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 7 to 2. Although he did allow a hit by pitch and a walk, as well as a hard-hit double by Acuña, he managed to regain control and limit further damage.

Nick Anderson threw eight scoreless innings, keeping the game tied. In the next inning, Dylan Lee came in and walked Bregman. Then, Dubon Mauricio hit a double on an 0-2 count, followed by Jake Meyers hitting an RBI single to tie the game. However, Acuña charged towards the ball and ended up dropping it, resulting in an error and allowing Dubon Mauricio and Meyers to tie the game. Chavez Jesse issued a leadoff walk and gave up a near-homer to Yainer Diaz, which bounced off the high wall in right-center field. This led to Houston’s bottom order getting a walk and ultimately frittering away their 4-1 lead. Chavez threw 11 pitches to four batters in this crucial time of the game. However, the Braves hadn’t really capitalized on this opportunity yet. This was all thanks to the phenomenon of Jesse Chavez in the seventh inning, along with the absence of Collin McHugh and Raisel Iglesias in the Braves’ shorthanded bullpen. Chavez Jesse took over in the seventh inning and completely turned the game around.

Do I have any idea about the point that will be debated? Did the rushing clock affect the whole pitch of the Minter? Although the location of its pitch by Alvarez was horribly missed, a balk was charged and Matt Olson was playing behind the runner because he never actually made the throw to first, but rather made a half-faked and kinda-sorta half-stepped throw. Then, with a 3-2 count on Alvarez, the winding clock pitch cost the game the weird sequence. However, the Braves were aided by Kevin Pillar making a great diving catch, allowing Minter to only allow a single through three batters. But more things went awry for the Braves in the ninth inning.

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In the ninth inning, with a 3-2 count, Acuña struck out on a probable slider that was inside and low. However, Pillar walked to bring the tying run to the plate, giving the Braves a chance against Ryan Pressly, who had been a ghost on the mound.

The Braves drop to 14-6, but will have another opportunity to defeat the Astros tomorrow night.

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