Mark Bradley

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Hey, the Braves are hitting! (But it's only against the Reds)

We mentioned the other day that the Atlanta Braves and the Cincinnati Reds appeared well-matched : One can't hit and the other can't pitch. The baseball axiom holds that good pitching stops good hitting. What we've just seen is that bad pitching stops nothing.

The Braves, who are last in the majors in runs, have scored 18 in three nights against the Reds, who are last in the majors in ERA. It's not as if the Braves have seized every moment: They're 11-for-45 (.244) with runners in scoring position. They've had 34 hits, drawn 16 walks and been hit by a pitch three times. That's 53 baserunners in 31 innings. Given that, 18 runs is closer to the minimum yield than the maximum. (Indeed, they've left 33 men on base.)

Freddie Freeman hit for the cycle Wednesday, two nights after he'd hit for three-quarters of the cycle. He's 7-for-14 in the series. Adonis Garcia is 8-for-15. Heck, Erick Aybar is 4-for-9 with four RBIs and has lifted his batting average to a a percentage below the Mendoza Line. Everybody hits!

For all this offense, the Braves have lost two of three games in a series that has seen the opponent's starting pitcher log a total of 11 2/3 innings, leaving the Reds' worst-in-the-majors bullpen to work 18 1/3-plus. Until the 13th inning of Game 3, the Braves had managed five runs against that bullpen. In that 13th, they scored three runs against Alfredo Simon, whose ERA is 9.40, without making an out.

Going big-picture here: The Braves will exit the series at least 5 1/2 games behind the Reds, and it's never too early to start thinking about the No. 1 pick in the 2017 draft . But those dogged Minnesota Twins are still within a game. They simply refuse to lose win.

Further reading:

The Braves' Aaron Blair has to be better than this. (Doesn't he?)

The Cubs show the Braves that it can be done.

The Braves got the guy they wanted, who mightn't have been the guy you wanted.

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About the Author

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has been with the AJC since 1984.