Kind of hard to fault Max Scherzer here. He pitched into the ninth inning having given up only one run, having struck out nine, and having retired ten in a row coming into the final frame. Unfortunately his teammates could do no better against Manny Banuelos — who left early with cramping and dehydration — and four Braves relievers. That had it tied in the ninth.
Scherzer was not hit hard at all in the ninth, but the Braves placed those hits just so. First Pedro Ciriaco reached on infield single to short, just beating out the throw. After he was sacrificed over to second, Cameron Maybin came to the plate and chopped one over third base. It landed in foul territory, but the umps say it passed over the bag in fair territory, and that’s what matters. Watch:
Scherzer, whose ERA went up a couple of ticks despite only giving up two runs, pretty much captures what this one was all about: being BABIP’d to death:
“The way you lose like that — an infield single with Ciriaco being able to beat it out and then a ball that chops right over the third base — what are you going to get mad about?” Scherzer said. “I thought I executed my pitches in those situations. They just got hit. Baseball’s a funny game sometimes.”
First baseman Freddie Freeman, around whom the Braves’ lineup revolves, is headed to the disabled list with a wrist injury.
Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports that the injury is not believed to be serious, but Freeman tried avoiding the DL and couldn’t get healthy enough to play after missing four games.
It’s a huge loss for Atlanta, because Freeman hit .299 with 12 homers, 20 doubles, and an .887 OPS through 66 games and has an .836 OPS for his career at age 25. Meanwhile, no other Braves player has an OPS above .800 this season and Cameron Maybin at .755 is the next-highest among regulars.
Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman remains out of the lineup for Saturday’s game against the Mets as he is still bothered by a sore wrist. He acknowledged yesterday he might miss the whole series against the Mets. He last played on June 17 against the Red Sox, but exited in the seventh inning.
Freeman, 25, has been by far the Braves’ most productive hitter this season, batting .299/.367/.520 with 12 home runs and 41 RBI. In terms of OPS, the Braves’ second- and third-best hitters are Cameron Maybin and Kelly Johnson with a .765 OPS, 122 points lower. One might argue that the Braves will miss Freeman a lot while he’s out.
Padres outfielder Melvin Upton, Jr. was activated from the 15-day disabled list on Sunday. To create room on the roster, outfielder Abraham Almonte was sent to Triple-A El Paso. Per the Associated Press, Upton is expected to make his debut on Monday against his former team, the Braves.
Upton was traded to the Padres along with closer Craig Kimbrel just before the start of the regular season. The Padres sent Carlos Quentin, Cameron Maybin, minor league prospect Matt Wisler, minor leaguer Jordan Paroubeck, and 2015 competitive balance round A pick to the Braves.
Upton, 30, rejoins his brother — also a former Brave — Justin in San Diego. Melvin had a rough two years in Atlanta, batting .198/.279/.314 with 21 home runs and 61 RBI in 1,028 plate appearances.
Eric Young Jr. began this season as Atlanta’s starting center fielder, but he quickly lost that job to Cameron Maybin and now the Braves have designated him for assignment.
Young is a switch-hitter with elite speed and some defensive versatility, but he can’t actually hit. His career OPS is .645 OPS and during the past three seasons he’s batted .235 with three homers and a .622 OPS in 283 total games.
His skill set could land him another bench gig, but Young is 30 years old and has been a replacement-level player for a while now.