The Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins took the field on Sunday to wrap up a three-game set as the teams played their final game before the All-Star break.
The Atlanta Braves should have been heading into Sunday’s game on a high. They had won three games in a row, were back at .500, and with a win, had a chance to have a winning record for the first time in the 2021 season.
But last night the team received the sobering news that they would be without MVP candidate Ronald Acuna, Jr. for the rest of the season after Acuna tore his ACL in the fifth inning of Saturday’s game.
This was the toughest of blows yet for the Braves, who have already played a good part of the year without a number of key players.
No one could blame the Braves for wanting to mail this game in and just get out of Miami without any more injuries so they could head into the All-Star break, regroup, and start to plan for life without Ronald Acuna, Jr.
But instead, the Braves came out swinging on Sunday. Unfortunately, they came out swinging and missing.
Miami starter, Pablo Lopez set a modern-day major league record by striking out nine consecutive batters to start the game, (7 of them swinging) and the Braves found themselves down 4-0 after 3 innings on the strength of a Jesus Aguilar three-run first-inning home run.
The Braves strung together some hits in the top of the fourth and cut the lead to 4-2. But the Marlins got both runs back in the bottom half, pushing the lead to 6-2 going into the 5th inning.
Despite a multi-homer game from Dansby Swanson, the Braves never got closer than a three-run deficit the rest of the way, and once again failed to get above the .500 mark for the first time this season.
The Atlanta Braves fell 7-4 to the Miami Marlins in their final game before the All-Star break.
The All-Star break is coming at the right time for the Braves. There is a lot for both Brian Snitker and the Braves front office to consider as the trade deadline looms closer.
Without Ronald Acuna are the Braves a serious contender this season? If not, might the Braves look to move players like Charlie Morton, Drew Smyly, Pablo Sandoval, and Travis d’Arnaud at the trade deadline?
What does the lineup look like without Acuna? Does some radical shuffling need to take place? And what internal or external options are currently available to give this team the best chance to stay in the NL East race and be buyers at the deadline?
All of these questions will be answered in the next couple of weeks.
The Braves will conclude the month of July with a tough homestand and road trip. Their first four series after the All-Star break include two home series, one with the Tampa Bay Rays and one with the San Diego Padres. From there the Braves will head out on the road for sets with both the Phillies and Mets.
Those four teams are a combined 36 games over .500. And how the Braves fare in these four series may indeed be the deciding factor in whether they are buyers or sellers at the trade deadline.
Snake bit, cursed, jinxed. All of these words can be used to describe the Braves season this year and you wouldn’t get much argument from any Braves fan. Oh, and there might be more…
The fact that the Braves have won three straight NL East pennants and entered the season with World Series aspirations makes me expect this team to fight until the bitter end… but it will be tough, no doubt.
Here is to hoping that Snit and the coaching staff can come up with a plan to work some magic over the All-Star break and that AA can fleece some of his peers at the trade deadline and the Braves can give us a season to remember yet.