Game #26 Recap: Nationals Miss Opportunity
After taking three of four from the Cincinnati Reds, the Washington Nationals came in to their second series of the year against their division rival, the Atlanta Braves, on a roll. With ace pitcher Stephen Strasburg on the mound the Nats looked to continue their success, but the Braves were able to take the mistake riddled game, winning 3-2.
Strasburg struggled again in the first inning, allowing a lead off walk to Jordan Schafer. Two batters later Justin Upton singled in Schafer and the Braves jumped out to a 1-0 lead.
The Nationals struck back in the top of the second, starting the inning with four straight singles, scoring two runs. Notably, Adam LaRoche lead off the hit parade, his first in 26 at-bats, breaking a slump that spanned over the last seven games.
Strasburg held the Braves scoreless in the second and the third, but not without serious issues. Strasburg had trouble locating his fastball and got behind in counts often.
The Braves finally got to him in the fourth inning, with Freddie Freeman scoring on Gerald Laird's single. The Nationals escaped the threat though, throwing out Dan Uggla at third in the same play to end the inning.
Julio Teheran exited the game, one out into the sixth inning, Like Strasburg, Teheran struggled throughout the game, however the Nationals struggled to capitalize on those issues. Teheran finished the game on 91 pitches, giving up two runs on ten hits, five strikeouts and a walk.
Strasburg saved his best for last, finishing his outing by striking out the side in the sixth. Strasburg went six innings on 93 pitches, giving up two runs on six hits, eight strikeouts and four walks.
The Braves took the lead again in the seventh. Tyler Clippard relieved Strasburg and started the inning walking Laird. After reaching third, Laird scored on a sac fly from Andrelton Simmons. Clippard got out of the inning by striking out Justin Upton, but the damage was done.
The Nationals' bats couldn't get anything going against two of the best relief pitchers in baseball in Eric O'Flaherty and Craig Kimbrel.
To add injury to insult, Jayson Werth went down in the eighth after fouling a ball off of his ankle. Werth finished the at-bat, but came out of the game afterwards. After the game it was revealed that Strasburg was experiencing some "forearm tightness" but nothing beyond that was known.
The Braves broke their four game losing streak with the win. It was also their eighth win in a row against the Nationals dating back to last season. The Nationals look to break that streak with Gio Gonzalez going up against Tim Hudson.