Missed Opportunities Cost Braves Series with Marlins

A day spent roaming Six Flags over Georgia and riding all the attractions the park has to offer prevented me from getting this post out yesterday.

 After splitting the first two games with the Marlins, the Braves looked to earn the series win on Sunday afternoon. Jair Jurrjens had been cruising since his return from the disabled-list and he looked to continue that as he took the mound against the Marlins.

 The Braves were hoping to carry momentum over from the eight run 8th inning that propelled them to a win over the fish in the 2nd game of the series. Brian McCann certainly looked like he was with an RBI single in the 1st inning that brought in Jason Heyward to spot Jurrjens’ and the Braves a 1-0 lead.

 Eric Hinske added on to that with a solo HR in the 3rd. But, Jurrjens lost his composure a bit in the 4th inning thanks to some questionable calls from the home plate umpire who seemed to not want to give the outside corner that Jurrjens was picking at.

 You could see frustration building for Jurrjens on the mound and I believe it began affecting his performance. He allowed a Hanley Ramirez single and walked Dan Uggla to put himself into trouble.

Jurrjens continues his strong work since returning from the DL

 Cody Ross singled home Ramirez for the first run in the inning and then Wes Helms cleared the bases with a triple to put Florida in the lead at 3-2 with just one out in the inning.

 After intentionally walking Mike Stanton to set up a double play, Brad Davis singled home Helms to push the Marlins lead to 4-2.

 Jurrjens was finally able to work his way out of the inning, but the damage had been done.

 Chris Volstad had been dealing for the Marlins ever since giving up the two early runs. That was until he ran into trouble in the top of the sixth. After McCann flew out, Troy Glaus doubled, Alex Gonzalez was hit by a pitch, and Brooks Cornad walked to load the bases with only one out.

 Melky Cabrera lifted a Volstad pitch deep enough into center to score Troy Glaus from 3rd on the sac fly to cut Florida’s lead in half. That would be all the Braves would bet as Jair Jurrjens flew out to end the inning.

 In the 7th, Jose Veras came in to relieve Volstad. Again, the Braves loaded the bases off of a Heyward single and walks from Hinske and McCann. But, Troy Glaus grounded into an inning ending double play that prevented the Braves from tying the game and possibly taking the lead. Remember that.

 Jair Jurrjens kept it a one run game as he completed a 7th strong inning. Other than the rough 4th inning, Jurrjens was great. His final line was:

 7.0 IP 6 H 4 R 2 BB 6 SO

 He was still on hook for the loss heading into the 8th inning. Gonzalez and Conrad led off the inning with outs. With two outs, Melky Cabrera hit a double into the right-center gap to put himself into scoring position. Bobby sent up Chipper as a pinch hitter with the runner in scoring position. Chipper swung at the first pitch from Clay Hensley and doubled into the other gap in left-center to tie the game at 4.

 The game headed into extra innings and the Braves had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the top of the 11th.

Six straight multi-hit games...

 With one out, the Braves proceeded to load the bases. Three straight singles from David Ross, Prado, and Heyward loaded them up. That brought Nate McLouth to the plate. He pinch ran earlier in the game and was left in there. I cannot describe how frustrating it is to have McLouth in the game.

 He’s hitting well below the Mendoza line and has shown no signs of being his former self. Bobby continues giving him playing time, but hopefully that will end sooner rather than later. Instead of waiting on a strike, McLouth swung at a 2-0 pitch and hit it directly to the shortstop and the Marlins turned a double play to end the inning.

 It was the second time the Braves had grounded into a double play with the bases loaded to end an inning. At this point, you just got the feeling that the Braves were about to lose the game, especially with Jesse Chavez coming out of the bullpen.

 Chavez wouldn’t record an out in the 11th. He gave up a single to Hanley and another to Uggla that sent Hanley from 1st to 3rd. Chavez intentionally walked Cody Ross to load the bases with nobody out and Wes Helms walked off with a single into left field to end the game as the Marlins won 5-4.

 It was a frustrating loss for the Braves. It was a series they should have won and instead lost. The most frustrating thing about it is the Phillies are surging and have now gotten within 4.5 games of the division lead.

 You had to believe that the Phillies weren’t going to go away quietly and were going to make a race out of this and they have. The Phillies are entering a series with the lowly Diamondbacks at home.

 The Braves will begin a three game set tonight against the Washington Nationals. The first game of the series will pit phenom Stephen Strasburg against Tommy Hanson. Hanson, Hudson, and Lowe are the projected starters for the Braves in this series.

 This is an important series for the Braves. I expect the Phillies to keep winning against Arizona, so that means the Braves will have to do the same if they want to keep a cushion in the NL East.