The Braves continued to plod their way through September as they were shut out for the 5th time in 10 September home games in 1-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. In an unsurprising development the Braves had chances with 9 baserunners but failed to push any of them across the plate for actual runs. Aaron Harang was outstanding allowing only a solo home run to Andrew McCutchen in the sixth inning while pitching seven strong innings. That one run was one run too many though because the Braves offense is a cespool of failure at this point.
Over his last six starts the Braves offense has scored a total of three runs while Aaron Harang has been in the game. With Gattis and Heyward still out the Braves already poor offense is essentially a AAA group at this point and so it wasn't surprising to see them give Harang zero support.
The Braves offense created its first big chance in the bottom of the first inning. Emilio Bonifacio and and Freddie Freeman both walked to put runners at 1st and 2nd with one out. A Justin Upton strikeout and Chris Johnson groundout ended the threat with no runs scoring as you would expect. It is incredible how poor Justin Upton has been in September after avoiding any sort of massive slump all year. This inning proved to be typical of the night as a whole, with Atlanta putting runners on base all night but failing to score them. The main reason for this is the Braves either cannot hit for power or have stopped trying to. The offense is too shallow to support a string together singles approach, yet that seems to be what the team is attempting to do. Its a poor approach and it continues to produce poor results.
The bottom of the 2nd saw Christian Bethancourt reach on a leadoff single and reach second base on a wild pitch but there was no follow up hit to bring him to the plate. Freddie Freeman had a two out single in the third but Justin struck out looking to end the inning. Bethancourt would walk and BJ Upton would single in the fourth inning but Harang was unable to come up with a two out hit to score anyone. Phil Gosselin walked in the fifth with one out but the inning ended on a strike em out, throw em out when Freeman whiffed and Gosselin was thrown out stealing. Over the first five innings the Braves put 7 runners on base but none scored because the Braves delivered no extra base hits and were unable to string together singles because the lineup has too many below league average hitters.
McCutchen led off the sixth inning with his homer to put the Pirates up and at that point Atlanta stopped creating chances. The Braves went down in order in the sixth and seventh innings. Of note was Gattis making his first appearance in almost two weeks when he pinch hit for Harang. Gattis struck out but it was nice to see him swing a bat again.
Freeman delivered his second hit of the night with two outs in the 8th but Justin Upton popped out to the catcher to end any hope of Freeman scoring. With two outs in the ninth Andrelton Simmons reached on an error but BJ Upton struck out swinging to end the game. This did seem a rather appropriate way to end the game that came on the night of Frank Wren being fired as general manager. Agree or disagree with Wren being fired, there is little doubt that BJ Upton's free agent deal was the turning point in Wren's tenure in Atlanta going off the rails.
Overall, the game was a depressing night in a depressing season. The crowd was sparse and the only thing more lifeless than the fans was the offense. Harang was outstanding as he moves towards the end of his unexpectedly strong season in Atlanta. It was also sad seeing a team that is fun, likeable and moving towards playoff baseball in the Pirates. The Pirates right now are what Atlanta should be and the Braves have three more games to be reminded of that.