Is it wrong to think the beef between Carlos Martinez and Ronald Acuna Jr is funny? One emotional player being irritated by the emotional display of another? Don’t care. It’s hilarious.
The days of players sprinting around the bases on a Home Run, a la Scott Rolen, have gone the way of 4-man bullpens and the LOOGY. Nice knowing ya. So has the idea of ‘not showing up your opponent’. I have no earthly idea why someone would take his sweet time rounding the bases on a home run that cuts the DEFICIT to two, but whatever. You celebrate that 455-foot bomb. Don’t look too hard at the scoreboard on your way past second.
Speaking of Scoreboards, Mr. Acuna’s teammates righteously muttered to themselves about his posturing two innings earlier. It takes a special talent to turn a 325′ fly ball off the wall into a single. That little piece of self-congratulation possibly cost the Braves a run. It definitely changed the outcome of the inning, seeing as he got doubled off second 2 batters later. Would he have been on third for Donaldson’s at bat had he hustled out of the box? Probably. Would John Brebbia and Andrew Miller have pitched differently with Acuna on second, or third? Definitely. So there’s not a straight line there. But there’s no question the inning unfolds differently if the leadoff hitter reaches second.
The difference between that inning and the Visitors Fifth is stark. St Louis scored a run without a ball leaving the infield. I love innings like that, because they drive the opponent crazy. Soft single, productive out, steal, productive out. Harrison Bader swiping third becomes the key play. Yes, I know Tommy Edman doubled after Dexter Fowler drove Bader home, but again, I believe Dallas Keuchel pitches differently if Bader is standing at second with 2 out, instead of working with the bases empty. The Cardinals steal a run with aggressive baserunning. The Braves probably leave a run on the field with slapstick baserunning two innings later.
If you’re Atlanta right now, you’re worried. Jack Flaherty has been the best pitcher in the NL since the All-Star Break. There’s a very real chance they fly to Missouri down 0-2. Call me a homer (fair) but I don’t see the Braves winning 3 straight in this series. Today’s game is a must-win for Atlanta. St Louis is playing with house money right now.
I love scenarios like that too. Keep the line moving, boys.