Inconsistency catches up to Braves in loss

June 16th, 2021

ATLANTA -- A Braves club that has repeatedly been introduced to maddening and frustrating conclusions dealt with yet another when the usually reliable Chris Martin stumbled in a 10-8 loss to the Red Sox on Tuesday night at Truist Park.

“Mentally, I don’t feel great,” Martin said. “I just blew a game that we needed. Our offense fought and crawled right back into that game.”

What had the makings to be a potentially inspiring comeback win instead became another loss for the Braves, who are now 0-10 when tied at the end of the seventh inning. Ninety-eight games remain, but this team has yet to create confidence about its bid for a fourth straight National League East title.

Remember a week ago, when the Braves claimed a series win over the Dodgers and then began a series in Philadelphia with a comeback win? Well, they’ve lost five of six since then and now sit 6 1/2 games back of the first-place Mets.

“I don’t think anyone has an answer,” Martin said. “All you can do as a baseball player is work hard every single day, work hard and compete, and hopefully good things happen. That’s really all you can do.”

The Braves’ lineup has looked less imposing since Marcell Ozuna was arrested for domestic violence a few weeks ago. It already had lost another middle-of-the-order bat in Travis d’Arnaud, who may return in early August. But while the depleted offense has been inconsistent, it still ranks among the top four NL teams in runs scored.

Of course, the lineup’s production hasn’t been as appreciated this year as it had been during the recent past. The Braves are 7-3 when scoring eight runs or more. They were 77-5 when doing so from 2018-20.

Some of this can be blamed on an injury-depleted rotation. Manager Brian Snitker said it’s too early to speculate whether Mike Soroka might pitch this year. There’s still hope Huascar Ynoa will return in late August from his broken right hand. But the rotation will now be without Tucker Davidson, who will be placed on the injured list after exiting Tuesday’s game with left forearm tightness.

Davidson’s injury serves as the latest jab absorbed by a pitching staff that has counted Martin as its most reliable asset since he missed most of the season’s first month sidelined with right shoulder discomfort. But the big right-hander has now struggled in two of his past three appearances.

“Chris has been just nails here, he’s been awesome,” Snitker said. “It happens. It’s going to happen to the best of them. It just always hurts when it does.”

After the Braves erased an early five-run deficit, Martin was asked to keep the game tied in the eighth. The righty allowed consecutive singles and then recorded a pair of outs before Alex Verdugo drilled a three-run homer over the center-field wall.

Verdugo’s blast was the first homer Martin allowed this season and just the third he surrendered in the 49 1/3 innings he has completed since joining the Braves on July 31, 2019.

This hasn’t been a normal stretch for Martin, who has allowed a hit to six of the past 12 batters faced. Before surrendering a hit to each of the three batters faced in the 10th inning of Thursday’s loss in Philadelphia, he had allowed hits to just two of 34 batters faced.

“Obviously you want to go out there and put up zeros every single outing, but things happen,” Martin said. “You’ve just got to forget about it and move on to tomorrow.”

Martin’s rough outing came long after Davidson surrendered two homers in a four-run first before he exited in the third inning. The Braves trailed 5-0 in the third and then pulled within a run when Dansby Swanson, Abraham Almonte and Ronald Acuña Jr. all doubled during a three-run fourth.

The energy created by this early rally was thwarted when the Red Sox tallied a pair of runs in the fifth against Edgar Santana. But instead of being fazed by another jab, the Braves fought back with a three-run sixth. Guillermo Heredia drove in a run with an RBI single and Freddie Freeman notched a game-tying sacrifice fly.

But instead of celebrating a comeback win, the Braves were reintroduced to yet another disheartening loss.