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Bullpen melts down again as Braves suffer dreadful 5-3 defeat to Rockies

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A.J. Minter allowed three runs with two outs in the ninth, and Luke Jackson didn’t fare much better.

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Atlanta Braves Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

It’s my basic belief that a traditional recap wouldn’t do this game justice, because, you see, this was really two different games. The first game was pretty fun. Ronald Acuña had a perfect day at the plate through four plate appearances, notching two singles, nearly missing a home run and settling for a double, and also drawing a walk after a protracted PA. The Braves scored two runs early on a Nick Markakis bloop single and got an insurance run late when Freddie Freeman drove in Acuña. Meanwhile, Mike Foltynewicz was straight dealing, hurling seven scoreless frames while allowing just four hits, zero walks, and punching out nine Rockies hitters. Even though Jonny Venters was called on to face a series of righties in the eighth, it still somehow worked out, as he elicited a double play grounder after a leadoff walk. The Braves led 3-0 going into the ninth, and A.J. Minter retired the first two batters he faced.

The Braves’ win probability at that point was 99.6%. That was when the first game ended, and it’s a shame it did.

The second game was awful. Really awful. Is this the worst loss of the year? I don’t know, we can debate that endlessly. But without bringing relativism into the equation, it was unquestionably a horrible loss. That 99.6% win probability evaporated in a flash. First, A.J. Minter allowed a ringing two-out double to Trevor Story. Then, David Dahl, despite lacking the platoon advantage, lined a single to center. Ian Desmond then raked a two-run double on a liner to left. The Rockies seemed to be in a bind because they only had left-handed pinch-hitters available to face Minter, but even that didn’t salvage anything for the Braves, as Gerardo Parra blooped in an end-of-the-bat single into left to tie the game.

That was it for Minter; Luke Jackson came on and got the last out of the inning. The Braves got a leadoff walk in the bottom of the ninth as Adam Ottavino was wild upon entry, but a very questionable bunt call resulted in the inning’s first out. Kurt Suzuki’s deep drive to left didn’t go quite far enough to turn into a walkoff homer, and Dansby Swanson was eaten alive by Ottavino’s slider to send the game into extras.

Extras didn’t last long. Luke Jackson was asked to continue on, and after retiring Charlie Blackmon, allowed an absolute moonshot by D.J. LeMahieu to straightaway center. The Braves led 3-0, and within the span of seven Colorado batters, they were now down 4-3. The hits didn’t stop coming, as a Carlos Gonzalez double and a single scored the fifth Rockies run.

In the bottom of the tenth, the Braves had to deal with Wade Davis, and could not. Two groundouts to Nolan Arenado at third, and a deep drive to right that fell short of the wall from Ozzie Albies, and the defeat was in the books.

Thanks to the Phillies losing to the Mets tonight, the Braves retain a slim half-game lead in the division. However, they’ve lost their third straight game for the sixth time this season. They’ll get a chance to salvage a game in this set tomorrow afternoon, but even that will feel disappointing given that they’ve snatched defeat from the jaws of victory twice in three tries so far. Still, it’s not all bad. The Braves still have the second-best record in the NL, and a 1.5 game lead on the Cardinals for the second Wild Card spot (assuming that somehow they wouldn’t hold a division lead).