I'm obviously not in a position where I can know if the Braves' focus is waning, but I at least want to ask the question. Do they have their heads in the game? I was in attendance at Turner Field today and saw several symptoms of what might have been a lack of focus. Bobby Cox, as always, defended his team after the game, mentioning that they doubled the Nationals in hits. Of course, Bobby will always have the back of his team, regardless how rough things get for them.
More after the jump.
The first symptom of difficulty came in the top of the second. After a double by Michael Morse which landed in the gap, there was a sharply hit line drive at Alex Gonzalez. While it was ruled a hit, and certainly would have been a tough catch, it hit off of Alex's glove, and it appeared that he was thinking about throwing back to second before he ever caught the ball. It's certainly a catch he could have made and, really, one he should have. Minor responded by walking the next batter before allowing what proved to be the decisive home run.
It needs to be said, also, that John Lannan was not very sharp. All game he was struggling to keep his strike to ball radio above just above one. Despite that, the Braves only drew three walks off of him in 6 innings during which he struggled to throw strikes. After walking Troy Glaus on four pitches and then struggling to throw strikes again to Matt Diaz (before a single), Alex Gonzalez came to the plate and immediately swung at a pitch that was off the plate outside. He popped up softly to first, foul. David Ross would then foul off what was likely ball four, on a pitch that was almost exactly where ball three had been, before grounding softly to end a scoring threat.
In a near perfect example of not paying attention, after the top of the fourth, the Braves as a team forgot how many outs there were, and after a double play to get the third out, no one except for Mike Minor took a step toward the dugout. There was a brief mulling about, followed by seconds of confusion as several fans starting laughing and shouting, before finally they realized that they'd gotten the required three outs and could resume batting. Occasionally one player will forget how many outs there are, but to see an entire team standing and waiting for the next batter who will never arrive is a rare thing.
In the bottom of the fifth frame, Martin Prado made an out in the basepaths. These are always bad, but some can be worse than others-this was a horrible move. Prado hesitated between first and second after an RBI single to drive in Omar Infante, and then decided to attempt to take second on the throw, but the throw by the catch back to second base caught in absolutely no-man's land, and he was tagged out as he attempted to retreat toward first. To have a rally going, even a small one, and to give away the third out with a questionable baserunning decision is just plain bad baseball. That's all.