These Braves are a special team.
Special in the sense of being different from what is usual.
Since the All-Star break, the Braves have posted an 8-9 record.
Their longest winning streak has been one game.
Their longest losing streak has been one game.
That’s a major league record, folks. No team in the history of baseball has managed to tread through 17 games without repeating a result.
Sadly, the record won’t last past September, when the Braves resume their suspended game from July 21 against the Padres.
Still, this record of unsurpassed mediocrity shouldn’t go unnoticed. There’s even a bright side if you recall that the five teams the Braves played are all playoff contenders: the Rays, Padres, Phillies, Mets, and Brewers.
“This was a gauntlet we went through, mentally, physically, and the competition,” manager Brian Snitker told Mark Bowman of MLB.com. “We’re going to end the day where we started, which is good because that thing could have gone sideways with the teams we were playing.”
And now everyone whistle along for a rousing rendition of “Always Look On the Bright Side of Life.”
Those who felt the recent nine-game road trip to Philadelphia and New York would be telling were exactly right. The Braves went 5-4. They gained half a game on the Mets. At this rate, if my eighth-grade algebra serves me well, they’ll catch the Mets in 81 games.
Sadly, only 56 games remain.
I know, I know. The Braves are only one hot week, one five-game winning streak, away from turning this whole season around.
Well, we’ve been waiting for that one hot week for four months now. Might as well be waiting for the Great Pumpkin.
The Braves went 14-12 in July. Their longest winning streak was three games; longest losing streak, two. That’s nothing new. In June they went 13-15, with a three-game winning streak and a four-game losing streak. May: 13-12, with a four-game winning streak and a three-game losing streak. April: 12-14, with a four-game winning streak and a four-game losing streak.
“It’s just really, really weird, and it’s been a kind of a weird year,” Sunday’s hard-luck losing pitcher, Charlie Morton, told Bowman. “But it’s the same story. We just need to get on a run. We’re playing good baseball. We’re in games and we’re not really going on bad stretches. So, I don’t know, really.”
This has been one of the most consistently mediocre teams in baseball history. The three-game weekend set against the Brewers was a microcosm of the season. Game one, the Braves jumped on Corbin Burnes, a fine pitcher, with a four-run first. Touki Toussaint, coming off two fine starts in which he allowed two earned runs in 13 2/3 innings pitched, allowed seven in 3 1/3.
That 9-5 loss preceded an 8-1 win, which begat Sunday’s 2-1 loss. Why, just last week, the Braves erupted for a dozen runs against the Mets, only to lose on Wednesday, all together now, 2-1.
This team may be too deeply mired in mediocrity for anything to help, but give general manager Alex Anthopoulos credit. He went out and made moves to try to find that one hot week.
Eddie Rosario came aboard from Cleveland for Pablo Sandoval, which is adding by subtracting. Sandoval seemingly hasn’t had a hit since April, but it hasn’t caused him to miss any meals.
Adam Duvall returned from purgatory in Miami, and he never should have left. I’m among those who believe his injury is what turned around the NLCS in the Dodgers’ favor last fall. He’s a great guy in the clubhouse, adds pop and lengthens the lineup, and plays a good left field.
Likewise, Jorge Soler brings a lot of power, though he’s not demonstrated much since 2019. But if you’re tired of the warning track power of Guillermo Heredia and Abraham Almonte, your prayers have been acknowledged.
And Richard Rodriguez is a nice addition to a beleaguered bullpen. He was solid in his first two appearances and might allow his mates in the ‘pen to settle into comfortable roles.
Mediocre as they’ve been, maddening as they’ve been to watch, it’s not yet time to cry, “Wait ‘till next year!”
This amazing stretch of “win one, lose one” has been “kind of a microcosm of the season,” Morton told Bowman, “because we just haven’t been able to get a ton of momentum. The silver lining is we really haven’t gone the wrong way. So, we’re still in the fight.”
And still looking for that one hot week.