OAKLAND, Calif. — You might not believe it, but it is true.
The Braves lost a series to the Oakland Athletics, who are the worst team in baseball.
The A’s walked off the Braves in the bottom of the ninth as Atlanta lost, 2-1, late Tuesday night.
1. It was slow and sad.
One of baseball’s best teams entered the bottom of the ninth tied with the sport’s worst group. And at that point, anything could happen.
The Braves went to closer Raisel Iglesias and asked him to send this game to extra innings.
He walked three of the first four batters to load the bases with one out.
Iglesias then induced a grounder from Jonah Bride, but Austin Riley fumbled it and couldn’t grab it quickly on the ground. The winning run scored from third as his throw to home was late. Riley was charged with an error.
That’s how the Braves lost.
2. Bryce Elder isn’t flashy. His stuff doesn’t blow anyone away – though that movement on his sinker can be nasty. He doesn’t say a ton.
He simply gets his job done.
Elder spun seven innings of one-run ball. He allowed five hits and had five strikeouts and three walks.
He was excellent. Again.
He arrived at the ballpark with a 2.01 ERA, which ranked third in the major leagues among qualified starters.
It is now at 1.92 ERA, which is the lowest in the bigs among qualified starting pitchers.
Elder has 16 consecutive outings of at least five innings pitched.
Elder is one of baseball’s best stories to this point in the season.
3. The Athletics entered this game with a 6.69 team ERA, the worst mark in the majors.
The Braves scored once – yes, once – on Tuesday. That gave them three runs over their first 18 innings in this series.
Atlanta came into this game ranked second in team OPS and eighth in team batting average. The club was also tied for second in home runs.
This is a dangerous offense.
But it has not shown up to Oakland.
4. In the fifth inning, Elder had Esteury Ruiz down, 0-2, after throwing two sliders. Then he hurled another slider.
Ruiz singled to left field to score the only run off of Elder.
Elder’s slider was on the edge of the strike zone, but might not have been low enough given it was an 0-2 pitch. That said, this might be nitpicking an otherwise terrific outing.
Before Ruiz’s run-scoring hit, Elder allowed consecutive singles.
5. Many times, Braves manager Brian Snitker has lauded Kevin Pillar’s professionalism.
Here’s an example of how that shows up: Even if he never knows when his next start might come, Pillar stays ready.
Before Tuesday, Pillar had not started a game since May 15.
In his first at-bat, he homered off the left-field foul pole in the third inning for the game’s first run.
Pillar has a hit in each of his last five starts, dating to May 3.
Stat to know
11-45 – Oakland entered Tuesday’s game with the second-worst record after 56 games by a team since 1900.
Braves lefty Jared Shuster will pitch against Oakland right-hander James Kaprelian in Wednesday’s series finale. The game begins at 3:37 p.m. ET.