Braves starter Shelby Miller lasted only 4 1/3 innings against the Nationals on Saturday night, allowing seven runs on seven hits and three walks with four walks. The poor start extends Miller’s winless streak to 20 games. He last won on May 17 in Miami against the Marlins.
The lack of wins isn’t Miller’s fault. During the 20-game stretch, he has a 3.53 ERA with a 108/45 K/BB ratio in 122 1/3 innings. He’s received a total of 37 runs of support, an average of fewer than two runs per start.
Miller, on the season, has a 2.86 ERA with a 1.21 WHIP and a 151/61 K/BB ratio over 176 1/3 innings. He was the big return for the Braves when they sent outfielder Jason Heyward to the Cardinals back in November.
The 54-82 Braves have lost 11 games in a row and are only one game behind the Phillies for the worst record in baseball, which would net them the first overall draft pick in 2016.
The Nationals still have a lot of work to do, but they are trying to make things interesting in the National League East.
Michael Taylor slugged a pinch-hit, walk-off three-run homer in the bottom of the 10th inning last night as part of a 5-2 win over the Braves.
The Braves held a 2-1 lead going into the bottom of the ninth before Matt den Dekker delivered a game-tying pinch-hit single with two outs against Arodys Vizcaino. After Jonathan Papelbon pitched his second straight scoreless inning, Bryce Harper led off the bottom of the 10th with a walk against Matt Marksberry. Brandon Cunniff entered the game to pitch to Ryan Zimmerman, but gave up a single to move Harper to third. Taylor, who has been dealing with a knee issue over the past two days, then hit for Papelbon and sent everyone home happy.
The Nationals have won three straight games and sit at 69-65 on the year. The Mets lost to the Marlins last night, so Washington is five games back in the NL East with 28 games to play. The two teams will begin a huge three-game series Monday in Washington, D.C., but the Nationals will try to pick up more ground by beating up on the Braves this weekend.
In some ways the Braves self-immolation in the second half has been a blessing. I’ve gotten more reading done lately. Last night I went out for drinks and dinner with my girlfriend. When got home and looked at the box scores I no longer had that “ugh, I wonder how bad they lost tonight” feeling as it has since been replaced by the dead assumption that they lost by a dozen or more thereby allowing me to be pleasantly surprised when they only lose by six or seven or something.
Really: rooting for a godawful team can be incredibly liberating.
But let us not pretend for a second that this weird feeling of zen relief means that the Atlanta Braves are anything other than horrifyingly terrible. Because boy-howdy they are. From Mark Bowman at MLB.com:
The Braves have lost 16 of their past 17 games, and they have now surrendered at least 15 earned runs in three of their past seven games. To put this alarming stat in perspective, they had allowed 15 earned runs in just 10 of the 3,948 games played from the start of the 1991 season through the beginning of this troubling stretch.
Bowman further notes that Braves’ starters have lasted fewer than five innings in seven of their past 14 games, and fewer than three innings in four of their past 11 games. They’re putting known arsonist Mike Foltynewicz back in the rotation next week and . . . that may actually improve things. It’s been quite a stretch.
So here we stand on September 4, and the Braves are only a game ahead of the Phillies for the worst record in baseball. But they’re charging hard:
They currently have the worst run differential in baseball at -164;
Since the All-Star break they are tied with the Tigers for the most runs allowed out of any team in baseball;
For the entire season they have scored fewer runs than any team in baseball (and no one has played more games than they have);
They have 83 home runs, which is 16 fewer than the next worst team and 102 fewer than the Blue Jays, who lead MLB in homers;
They have the lowest OPS in all of baseball;
Congratulations to the Atlanta Braves. The crappiest team in the land.
There’s a chicken pox outbreak in the Royals’ clubhouse and multiple players are infected
One player with the flu getting a whole clubhouse full of players sick is pretty common in baseball, but the Royals have taken that to another level. Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star writes that the Royals’ have a chicken pox outbreak and at least two players–outfielder Alex Rios and reliever Kelvin Herrera–are infected.
Chicken pox can be very dangerous for adults, so Rios and Herrera are expected to be out of action (and quarantined) for up to two weeks. McCullough reports that other Royals players and coaches are contacting their families to double-check if they already had chicken pox as kids, because symptoms often don’t reveal themselves for several weeks.
Team officials are expected to address the situation before Tuesday’s game against the Tigers. The Royals believe the infections are limited to only Herrera and Rios. The most at-risk players are those from countries in Latin America, where the chances of childhood inoculation are lower, experts say.
… The chickenpox virus spreads through the air or through bodily contact. The symptoms are well-known to parents, as itchy blisters overrun the skin and the body grapples with fatigue and fever. Chickenpox manifests in the same way for grown-ups, only patients suffer more and face complications such as pneumonia and brain infections, experts say.
Rios’ infection helps explain why the Royals went out and traded for another right-handed-hitting corner outfielder, Jonny Gomes of the Braves, prior to Monday night’s playoff eligibility deadline. Luckily for the Royals they’ve all but clinched the AL Central title already, but if other players are revealed as infected closer to the start of the playoffs it could be a major issue.