Forecasters are calling for four more days of thunderstorms and wet weather around the Atlanta area. While rain can mean an extended commute, traffic delays and an extra umbrella to pack for most metro area employees, the Atlanta Braves have been affected in a unique way.
The team has had three games decided in less than 24 hours this week and the lack of rest has not been beneficial for the Bravos. After winning on Monday night in spectacular fashion against the New York Mets, the NL East leading Braves dropped both games of Tuesday’s double header at Turner Field.
The 2-1 victory on Monday via a walk-off home run from Freddie Freeman happened at 1:22 a.m. ET. It came on the heels of an almost four-hour rain delay and left scant time to celebrate because of the early double header game Tuesday.
“Playing late did not concern us,” Atlanta third baseman Chris Johnson said on Tuesday morning. “It was the fact that we are going to play two on six hours of sleep at the most.”
After talking to the media, team meetings and the drive home, the earliest most of the team could hope to get to sleep was 3 a.m. Then they had to be back at the Turner Field clubhouse by 9:10 a.m. for a 1:10 p.m. first pitch.
A few Braves players and coaches reportedly booked rooms at the downtown Ritz-Carlton so they wouldn’t have to make long drives home to the suburbs. Manager Fredi Gonzalez even spent Monday night on a couch built in the back of the manager’s office.
After all of that the Braves still made an afternoon of it against New York. But an impressive eighth inning comeback wasn’t enough and the team came up just short in that game, losing 4-3. Almost immediately after the final out, the rain started again.
“Weather is weather,” said Braves right fielder Jason Heyward. “It’s a part of the game – sun, pouring down rain, snow, whatever, it’s part of the game. Obviously each element’s different and your body responds differently, but other than that we can’t really control that much.”
Dealing with a rain delay or a double header (or both) is an exercise in patience that impacts baseball uniquely. So how do athletes who work tirelessly to control every aspect of their game deal with things beyond their control?
“There’s really not a whole lot you can do,” said Braves pitcher Tim Hudson with a laugh. “I mean, there’s a lot of playing cards and obviously nowadays with technology with smart phones and all of that a lot of guys are on their iPads and iPhones doing stuff. Just anything to help pass the time, really. I mean, there’s really no secret to it. It’s boring.”
The Braves, who have been so good at home, are now behind in the five game series against the Mets, 2-1, after falling 6-1 in Tuesday’s night game. After their first full night of rest this week, Wednesday’s game will be a much needed opportunity to get back on the right foot.