The Atlanta Braves lost to the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday by a final score of 7-5.
Stop me if you have heard this one before.
The Atlanta Braves went into the seventh inning with a lead, only to see the bullpen not be able to hold it en route to another loss.
In a three games series that saw a new look Braves offense put 20 runs on the board, and enter the seventh inning with a lead in all three games, they were only able to manage a single win.
To make matter worse, the Mets got a two-run ninth-inning home run from Michael Conforto to come back and beat the Pirates on Sunday, pushing the Braves back to four games out of first place.
The game started out great for the Braves as they jumped out to a 3-0 lead through four innings and Drew Smyly entered the fifth inning having only allowed only one walk and no hits.
The Rays figured Smyly out in the fifth and sixth innings and tied the game on Wander Franco‘s third home run of the season. Brandon Lowe would then single off Smyly and the Braves turned the inning over to Jesse Chavez in hopes of ending the threat.
Chavez got Mike Zunino to fly out to left and the game stayed tied at three heading into the bottom of the sixth.
The Braves recaptured the lead in the bottom half of the sixth when Joc Pederson inside-outed a ball to left field for a double, scoring Stephen Vogt and giving the Braves a 4-3 lead.
A.J. Minter came into the game in the top of the 7th as the Rays lineup seemed to set up perfect for him with three straight lefties due up.
Those three lefties proceeded to single, double, and hit a sac fly, and just like that the Rays had grabbed a 5-4 lead.
The usually reliable Luke Jackson came into the game and gave up two more runs on a Yandy Diaz home run and the Rays extended their lead to 7-4.
That would be all Tampa would need on this day as their bullpen held the lead (what a great feeling that must be), and the Rays won the game 7-5.
The Atlanta Braves’ bullpen continues to cost them games that they cannot afford to lose.
This series had a lot of positives, especially from an offensive standpoint.
The Braves put up 20 runs in three games against a world series caliber team.
Both Joc Pederson (4-10, 1 HR, 4 RBIs) and Stephen Vogt (3-4, 1 RBI) paid immediate dividends and seemed to help energize both the offense and the fan base with their contributions.
Freddie Freeman continues to look more and more like the 2020 MVP at the plate.
And the starting pitching did their job against a team that came into the series with fifty-three wins.
But all the positives in the world don’t matter when your one big negative supersedes them all.
This series had all the makings of a statement series for the Atlanta Braves.
Sweeping, or even taking two of three from a very good team like the Rays would have sent a loud message that this Braves team was going to be around until the very end. And it was certainly possible for that to have happened.
Instead the Achilles heel of this team all season long reared its ugly head once again. And left Braves fans wondering what might have been.