ATLANTA -- Given what has transpired during the first two games of this weekend series against the Rockies, it feels like it has been much longer than a week since the Braves entered the All-Star break feeling good about the fact that they had won 13 of their past 25
ATLANTA -- Given what has transpired during the first two games of this weekend series against the Rockies, it feels like it has been much longer than a week since the Braves entered the All-Star break feeling good about the fact that they had won 13 of their past 25 games, including three of their last four.
If momentum is real and capable of surviving a four-day break, it's safe to say it has evaporated within the ugly events that have transpired at Turner Field this weekend. After being humbled with an 11-2 loss in Friday's opener, the Braves fumbled away the gem Mike Foltynewicz was constructing on Saturday night in a deflating 4-3 loss to the Rockies, who took advantage of three wild pitches over the final two innings.
"Last night, we just got our [butts] kicked," Braves catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "Tonight, we had a chance. We had a three-run lead in the eighth and just didn't get it done. Folty pitched awesome and deserved better. Unfortunately, we had chances and didn't take advantage."
Maybe the tone for this weekend was actually set on Tuesday, when the Braves learned starting catcher Tyler Flowers will miss at least six weeks with a fractured left hand. Suddenly, the 39-year-old Pierzynski was pressed back into an everyday role. Anthony Recker was promoted from Triple-A Gwinnett to serve as a backup, essentially because the club had no other internal options.
Pierzynski has lived a backstop's nightmare as he has been involved in each of the eight wild pitches the Braves have been charged with during the first two games of this series. They had never been charged with more than seven wild pitches during a series of any length since moving to Atlanta in 1966.
While some of the pitches were impossible to handle, Pierzynski has also played a part in the compilation of this abundance.
"I need to go back and look at the tape and see exactly what's going on to have a qualified answer," Braves manager Brian Snitker said, choosing not to directly point blame.
Truthfully, Snitker may not want to review what transpired after Foltynewicz scattered two hits and held the Rockies scoreless through the first seven innings. The right-hander's 14-inning scoreless streak disappeared as he became disgruntled with home-plate umpire Scott Barry's ruling on a few borderline pitches in the eighth.
Foltynewicz exited after surrendering Nick Hundley's RBI single with no outs in the eighth and then saw the 3-0 lead he carried into the inning disappear. Mark Reynolds scored on Hunter Cervenka's wild pitch and Hundley scored from second base when Gordon Beckham made a diving stop of DJ LeMahieu's two-out grounder and skipped a throw that grazed first baseman Freddie Freeman's nose.
The decisive ninth inning fittingly unfolded as Trevor Story touched Jim Johnson for a leadoff single and reached third base on two wild pitches. Story scored when Erick Aybar extended the defensive woes. Playing on the infield grass, Aybar snared Reynolds' ground ball and made a throw in the dirt that Pierzynski couldn't handle as Story slid across the plate.
"We can't do that," Snitker said of his team's multiple errors. "That's something we've got to get away from and something we haven't been doing. The thing we've been doing is playing really good defense. It's tough against a team like this because they keep coming at you offensively."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.