ATLANTA -- As Braves interim manager Brian Snitker burned through his bullpen through the first nine innings of Wednesday night's 3-2 loss in 13 innings to the Brewers at Turner Field, he got a taste of what his predecessor Fredi Gonzalez experienced when he attempted to mix and match the pieces of this 'pen that has not taken shape through this season's first two months.
After using six different relievers to record the 10 outs that separated starting pitcher Mike Foltynewicz's sixth-inning exit and the end of the ninth, Snitker provided the final four innings to Casey Kelly, who had thrown a side session earlier in the day in preparation to start Saturday afternoon's game against the Marlins.
"That's what I'm up here for," Kelly said. "I'm up here to pitch and get people out."
Still while Kelly's unselfish attitude can be appreciated, he certainly did not anticipate that he was going to pitch, let alone throw 77 pitches in this extra-inning loss, which came just three days after he had thrown 81 pitches over five innings in Philadelphia. Kelly's entry into this game likely means Aaron Blair will be recalled to start on Saturday, despite the fact that he has completed just three innings since being sent back to Triple-A Gwinnett.
"I can't say enough about what I just witnessed out there," Snitker said. "[Kelly] was unbelievable, just remarkable. You talk about leaving it out there and stepping up. It's just a shame we couldn't get him a win."
The Braves certainly didn't plan to go this route, until they were given no other choice once they exited the ninth inning without any of their bullpen members available. The carousel of relievers was put in motion when Hunter Cervenka came on to record the seventh inning's final out after Jason Grilli had issued consecutive two-out walks.
Before being replaced by Snitker last week, Gonzalez used to routinely point out how quickly late-inning plans change once one reliever doesn't get an out that was anticipated. Snitker certainly experienced this in the eighth when newly-appointed setup man Bud Norris surrendered consecutive one-out hits and then gave way to Ian Krol, whose lefty vs. lefty matchup against Kirk Nieuwenhis resulted in a game-tying groundout.
Alexi Ogando then retired the right-handed-hitting Aaron Hill to end the top of the eighth, but because the pitcher's spot was due up in the bottom half, Ogando's night was limited to five pitches. Closer Arodys Vizcaino struck out the side in the ninth and then gave way to Kelly, who struck out Chris Carter with the bases loaded to end the 12th inning.
"Obviously, it didn't work out," Snitker said. "But we stayed in it and gave ourselves a chance. It's just a shame."
As Kelly neared the completion of a long day that had included the side session, he could not work his magic again after the Brewers used two infield singles and a walk to load the bases again in the 13th. Jonathan Villar delivered a go-ahead single to left field to erase Kelly's opportunity to truly appreciate the effort he had provided.
"We're here to win," Kelly said. "We didn't win tonight."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.