After losing their starter due to injury and starting out the game in a pretty deep hole to begin with, the Braves were unable to hold Boston’s offense at bay. The Red Sox eventually put double digits on the board and were able to out-slug the Braves by a score of 10-8.
The story of the top of the first inning was one that the Braves and their fans have to be completely and utterly tired of at this point. Enrique Hernandez and Alex Verdugo started off the game with back-to-back singles, but Tucker Davidson bounced back and picked up two outs in the next two at-bats. Then the old familiar stumbling block of being either one out or one strike away from getting out of a jam reached out and tripped up the Braves pitching staff once again.
This time, Tucker Davidson was a strike away from getting out of a jam with runners on the corners. Instead, Rafael Devers somehow hit a slider that would’ve been called a ball clear over the fence in center field for a three-run shot. To make matters worse, Davidson basically grooved one for Hunter Renfroe in the very next at-bat, who accepted the gift and sent it into the seats in left field. Instead of escaping the jam, Davidson and the Braves were down by four runs before they even came to the plate.
The Red Sox added a run in the third inning, which was as far as Tucker Davidson got. To put whatever qualifies as icing on a cake that was made of whatever unfortunate combination of ingredients that you can think of, Davidson exited the game at this point due to forearm tightness. He gave way to Sean Newcomb, who actually pitched pretty decently over his 1.2 innings of work. He did give up the run that Davidson left at third when he exited the game, but other than that it was a solid outing from Newcomb.
Newcomb’s solid stint was enough to hold the Red Sox at five and give the Braves an opportunity to wake up and get back into the game. They got on the board in the bottom of the third thanks to an RBI single from Freddie Freeman and then the fourth inning saw the Braves break out for three runs. Atlanta hit three doubles in the bottom of the fourth — Abraham Almonte and Dansby Swanson went back-to-back with doubles to lead things off (with the latter giving them their second run of the game). Then, Ronald Acuña Jr. came up with two men on and two men out and laced a double of his own on the first pitch he saw from Eduardo Rodriguez in that at-bat. He reached third base on the throw, but was stranded there when Rodriguez struck out Freddie Freeman to end the inning. Still, the Braves were showing life and the five-run deficit suddenly didn’t look insurmountable.
The task got tougher in the next frame. Edgar Santana entered the game in the fifth inning and gave up his fourth home run of the season to Xander Bogaerts. Just like that, the rally from the previous frame was nearly snuffed out completely as Boston ran their lead back up to three runs. Fortunately, it turned out that there was still plenty of baseball left in this game, and the Braves managed to bounce back in the sixth inning.
Part of the rally in this frame was due to the fact that the Red Sox generously contributed two of the three errors that they committed tonight in this inning alone. The first four batters of this frame for Atlanta all reached base safely, and the Braves picked up two runs on an error and a passed ball, respectively. Freddie Freeman put the cherry on top by hitting a sacrifice fly to improbably tie the game up at seven runs apiece. For a moment, the Braves fans in attendance and watching at home were filled with optimism and it seemed like things were heading in Atlanta’s direction going forward.
Sadly, this Atlanta Braves bullpen had yet another nightmare. Chris Martin got the ball for the top of the eighth inning and things did not go well for him at all. The first two batters for Boston all reached on singles, but the Braves fielded a sacrifice bunt for the first out and Martin induced a grounder for the second out. Then Alex Verdugo came up to the plate and we had ourselves a moment of controversy followed up by another moment of bullpen-induced sadness. Verdugo was awarded ball one when eagle-eyed umpire Angel Hernandez caught Chris Martin going to his mouth. So Martin started this at-bat already in a hole, and the first pitch he actually threw to Verdugo got crushed into the seats in center field and the Braves had it done to them with two outs yet again. This time, the three-run dinger put the Red Sox back in the lead and put Braves fans in a completely sour mood.
Angel Hernandez calls ball one after Chris Martin went to his mouth. pic.twitter.com/yzJINQIMsa— Baseball GIFs (@gifs_baseball) June 16, 2021
Even though Ronald Acuña Jr. reached base in the ninth inning and managed to score from second base on an infield single, the Red Sox went on to win the game 10-8. As FanGraphs noted, this game was probably a really whimsical affair of baseball for the neutral viewer. For Braves fans, it was another night where you’re left shaking your head and/or shaking your fist in the air while bemoaning the efforts of this bullpen. They got a bit of a raw deal since Tucker Davidson had to exit the game early due to injury, but they ultimately had no answers when it came to dealing with this deep Red Sox lineup. As such, the Braves are now back to being four games under .500 and can only hope to get a split in this quick two-game series.