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Braves’ replacements flounder in Game 1 loss

Oct 4, 2013, 12:16 AM EDT

Elliot Johnson Getty Images

With Dan Uggla off the roster and B.J. Upton on the bench, the Braves were banking on lesser names helping their cause against the Dodgers. It didn’t work in Game 1, as both left fielder Evan Gattis and second baseman Elliot Johnson had key misplays in the 6-1 loss.

Uggla and Upton are the Braves’ two highest-paid players, but the Braves are willingly going without both. It’s hard to argue against the decision considering those two hit .179 and .184, respectively, this season. Still, the Braves gave up defense in the outfield by playing Gattis, and it showed as he dove for and missed A.J. Ellis‘s RBI double in the second.

Johnson, on the other hand, is in there because he’s a better defender than Uggla (and hopefully not any worse offensively). But he failed to haul in Carl Crawford‘s grounder to begin the third. Adrian Gonzalez later hit a two-run homer with two outs. Johnson wasn’t charged with an error, but he’ll be the first to say he should have made the play.

On offense, Gattis did contribute a bloop single and and a couple of walks. Johnson went hitless.

Personally, I thought Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez should have handled September differently. After Upton’s horrible start to the year, he was in and out of the lineup the rest of the way. Gonzalez never benched him for long, but there was always that threat hanging over Upton’s head; anytime he put up a couple of 0-fors, he knew he’d sit for the next day or two.

With the Braves’ NL East lead in hand, Gonzalez should have gone to both Upton and Uggla and told them they’d be lineup fixtures for at least a couple of weeks, no matter what happened. Give these guys, who have been everyday players their entire careers, the chance to sink or swim. If they sunk, fine; the Braves still had the second half of September to let Gattis find his rhythm at the plate (Johnson has no rhythm).

When Upton came to the plate as a pinch-hitter against Clayton Kershaw tonight, it was his first at-bat in eight days. His last hit came all of the way back on Sept. 12. There was no reason at all to think he’d succeed.

Uggla, who returned from eye surgery on Aug. 28, did get a little flurry of playing time in the end, coming after a spell in which he started one game in nine days. He was lousy. He may well have been lousy anyway. Upton, too. But I don’t think Gonzalez put them in the best position to succeed.

  1. butchhuskey - Oct 4, 2013 at 12:27 AM

    “Rangers have no answers for the Rays’ stars”

    “Listless Reds have no answer for Francisco Liriano”

    “Big-ticket signings fail to lift Indians in loss”

    “Braves replacements flounder in game 1 loss”

    It’s official: Matthew Pouliot has patented the post-game failure thread.

    • paperlions - Oct 4, 2013 at 7:33 AM

      You forgot: “A.J. Burnett’s dud could end career on a sour note”.

      Sometimes, you just gotta go with your strength.

    • skids003 - Oct 4, 2013 at 9:54 AM

      And he gets the Monday morning quarterback award of the year. Sure knows a lot to know so little.

    • nbjays - Oct 4, 2013 at 10:45 AM

      New headline:

      “Pouliot comes up short in writing positive posts.”

  2. 11thstreetmafia - Oct 4, 2013 at 3:14 AM

    After that crap Brian McCann pulled on Gonzalez this past week, I’m kind of happy to see the Braves lose. Who does that guy think he is?

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Oct 4, 2013 at 10:16 AM

      Who is Gonzalez?

  3. deathmonkey41 - Oct 4, 2013 at 8:51 AM

    The Braves losing in the Post Season??? Have the seas turned to blood??? Have the skies darkened with locusts??? Do the mountains shake with earthquakes??? Has famine grasped its cold hand around the crops??? This truly is a sign of the apocalypse!!!

    • nbjays - Oct 4, 2013 at 10:48 AM

      No, that happens when they WIN in the postseason. Remember those locusts and plagues in the fall of ’95?

  4. bravojawja - Oct 4, 2013 at 9:10 AM

    Upton and Uggla had all season to get their acts together and never did. Now they’ll have all off season, too.

    September should have been an audition for Gattis to see if he could take over at catcher for McCann.

  5. thebadguyswon - Oct 4, 2013 at 9:54 AM

    Defense comes to the forefront in the postseason. Evan Gattis is just awful in left field and if the Braves are going to roll with that, it will bite them just like it did yesterday.

  6. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Oct 4, 2013 at 10:18 AM

    So those two guys possibly cost the Braves 2 runs: what about the other 4 the Braves allowed? Kershaw was a beast and the Braves lost. If they were counting on Medlen beating Kershaw in order to win this series, they need to invest in some new strategists.

  7. notsofast10 - Oct 4, 2013 at 1:20 PM

    The Belly Flop in left was epic!

  8. notsofast10 - Oct 4, 2013 at 1:23 PM

    So the guy with the record for 3 Errors in an All Star Game is a better answer defensively?

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