Starter gets hammered. Bullpen saves the day.
How many times can we watch the same game over and over and …
Wait a minute -- who changed the channel?
The Braves, who have used a mind-numbing 17 pitchers in relief already this season and own the majors’ worst bullpen with 11 blown saves and a collective ERA that had ballooned to 4.90 before Tuesday night, came together for one game.
Aberration? Probably. But after starter Mike Foltynewicz allowed five runs and 12 hits in 5 2/3 innings, five relievers shut out San Diego for the final 3 1/3 and the Braves rallied from a 5-0 deficit to win 6-5.
Closer Jason Grilli, who had blown a save Monday night when the Braves lost 5-3 in 10 innings, tempted fate a day later. He allowed a one-out double in the ninth to Yonder Alonso, a wild pitch to put the potential tying run 90 feet away and a two-out walk to Cory Spangerberg. But Grilli struck out Clint Barnes to end the game and celebrated with several fist pumps.
Enjoy it, Atlanta. The afterglow may not last long.
The Braves haven’t been doing a lot of celebrating lately. It took Joey Terdoslavich’s first major league homer and winning two replays to reverse plays at the plate – one that negated Melvin Upton Jr. from scoring San Diego’s sixth run in the eighth; another that allowed the Braves' Juan Uribe to score after he had been called out at the plate following Andrelton Simmons’ bases-loaded double in the sixth -- for the Braves to rally and win.
But the bullpen effort by David Aardsma, Luis Avilan, Brandon Cunniff, Jim Johnson and Grilli was the most unexpected development of the evening.
Asked whether he has had any trepidation about going to the bullpen, manager Fredi Gonzalez said: “Somebody has to try to get somebody out. My body language when I go to the mound to bring somebody in is the same. Somebody told me, ‘Hey, you wave at the bullpen like you’re bringing in Mariano Rivera.’ You feel like the guy you’re going to bring in will do the job. If not, don’t bring him in.”
For one night, there were no meltdowns. But that hasn’t been the case. For more on this subject, click this link on the bullpen: Land of opportunity and brush fires