Here's the #1 sign that the end of the road has come for the Braves in 2014: Stephen Strasburg dominated them. Normally, the Nationals starting pitcher has an extremely rough time trying to figure out how to keep the Braves offense at bay, but tonight, Strasburg finally got one over on Atlata, after he pitched 7 solid innings and also drove in a run to boot. The Braves offense was lifeless until the 9th inning (as usual), when they actually strung together a 2-run rally. Unfortunately, they needed 2 more, didn't get it, and now the Braves are at .500 for the first time since April 1st.
Meanwhile, Mark Bowman dropped a blog on us yesterday that was intended to be a look at both the future and the offseason mistakes that led to this wretched result of a season. Although in my opinion he was off the mark when it came to his thoughts on Tim Hudson and how he'd affect this Braves squad, he did leave some interesting gems in there as far as the front office is concerned; Gems that appear to shine light on what could be a front office and management staff in turmoil.
Evan Gattis missed yet another game with strep throat, and now he's going to be sent to the doctor for further examination. Once again, Fredi Gonzalez is flummoxed:
"He is trying to figure out why this thing is lingering," Gonzalez said Monday before the series opener against Washington at Turner Field. "They are trying to figure out what is going on. He was starting to feel a little better during the weekend. Hopefully we get an answer. "
Tommy La Stella started last night's game on the bench, and that's mostly because of the fact that the rookie 2nd baseman is currently mired in a slump (then again, it'd be harder to find guys who aren't slumping than are in the regular lineup). I'm pretty sure it was last month that there was an article that came out about how TLS was making adjustments to the adjustments that pitchers and teams were making after his relatively hot start. It turns out that more adjustments are needed, but it's better for him to go through this now than to deal with it in the future, I suppose.
If you don't want to read about how this team is currently losing any chance that they have at a Postseason berth, then A) I don't blame you and B) I'll sum it up for you in 3 words: "Yes, they're done."
In positive news, in about 3 hours, the Braves will be having the Groundbreaking Ceremony for their new stadium in Cobb County! The ceremony for the new stadium (which will open in 2017) will be streamed live on braves.com, so if you want to use that stream to think happy and positive thoughts about a future where both the offense and pitching can work at the same time, where the Braves have a competent manager, and where years like 2014 are looked back upon and laughed at, then be my guest!
Despite the fact that Target Field had their smallest attendance in the short history of the stadium, the fans who did show up were treated to an absolute doozy of a game. At first, the home fans were a bit bummed out when the Tigers (who are locked in a dogfight with the Kansas City Royals (WOO GO ROYALS) for the AL Central crown) raced out to a 6-0 lead. However, Detroit's bullpen failed the team in a major way, as they ended up giving up 6 runs to the Twins to tie things up heading into the 9th inning. However, the 9th inning was when Torii Hunter and Miguel Cabrera declared that the time for fun was over and it was time to get back to business.
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In case you missed it on Sunday (and I don't know how you could), Jonathan Papelbon had a bit of a rough day on Sunday. After he blew a save by the Marlins, the ever-so-understanding Philly phans let him know just how much they appreciated Papelbon's performance on the night. Papelbon returned the favor by making sure his crotch was presentable to the fans. That gesture caught the ire of umpire Joe West, who ejected him, and Papelbon got a little physical with West afterwards. As a result, Papelbon was suspended 7 games for his actions. To be fair to Pap, Joe West did grab him first so it's a bit strange that West hasn't received punishment (publicly, at least), but I think everyone involved in this situation could've handled things a bit better.
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