Filtering by Tag: Braves

Series #19 Preview: Nats at Braves

The Nationals visit Turner Field to face off in a three game series for the second time this season to take on the Atlanta Braves. The Braves (32-21) have won seven out of their last 10 and are leading the Nats in the NL East race by 5.5 games. The Nationals (27-27) are coming off a series with the Orioles, where they dropped three of four games.

On a plus note, the Nats offense is starting to wake up, especially in the home run category. Ryan Zimmerman in particular is seeing the ball great and making opposing pitchers pay for it.  After the first month of the season Zim was only batting .226, with an OPS of .670, not what fans expect from him. However, since then he has raised his average more than sixty points to .290. He played in twenty five games in May and got at least one hit in all but five of those games. His most impressive performance came against the Orioles on Wednesday when he hit three homers. He was on the cusp to break .300, but he went 0-4 in the series finale against the Orioles. Even more encouraging, probably, is the fact that his throwing errors have almost vanished, which makes fans breath a lot more easily when a ball get sent to the hot corner.

The Nationals are still battling injuries. Jayson Werth is expected to miss the entire road trip to Atlanta, Ross Detwiler will miss his start in favor of Nate Karns and Manager Davey Johnson is keeping a close eye on Danny Espinosa ailing wrist. The good news is that Bryce Harper is expected to return for the entire series against the Braves. His bursitis has healed enough that he will take his place in the lineup.

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Game #29 Recap: Haren Shines

​The Nationals came into the final game of the four game series with the Braves looking for a split and on the back of an excellent start by Dan Haren they got it, winning 3-1. 

Haren got through the first eight batters he faced in order on only 21 pitches, before allowing a walk to opposing pitcher Kris Medlen. After that blip he continued to mow down Braves hitters, allowing only one base runner until the seventh inning.

The Nationals offense got to Medlen early in the game, scoring all three of their runs in the first two innings. ​

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Series #9 Preview: Nats at Braves

The Nationals had dropped 9 of their last 12 before the Cincinnati Reds came to town, but since then the Nats have won 3-of-4 and appear to be finding their offense; even without Ryan Zimmerman and Wilson Ramos. Their 13-12 record leaves a little bit to be desired, but it is still April and Dan Haren’s starts have been more and more promising.

Now, it is time to faceoff once again against the Braves. The Braves have shown a little bit of a ding in their armor, as they have lost their last four games in a row. Paul Maholm was the talk of the MLB, boasting a 0.00 ERA through three starts, but had a rough day against the Tigers over the weekend. Justin Upton is still playing like a major contender for the NL MVP early in the season, but others in the Braves lineup have cooled off a bit.

A lot can happen in this series, when the dust settles. The Nats could be leading the division by 1 ½ games if they are able to complete a sweep, or they could be behind the Braves by 6 ½ games if they themselves are swept. More than likely, it will be somewhere in between. By the end of the series, though, Nats fans could have a better understanding on how the division will shake out. The Phillies, Mets, and Marlins are still under the .500 mark to this point in the season, and it is conceivable that the division will be determined based on how these two teams play against each other.

In typical Davey Johnson fashion, the Nats skipper said the series only mattered because, “they are ahead of us.” As always, I defer to Davey. The best way of viewing the upcoming series is as another early series that does not mean much, but it would be big for the Nats to pick up some wins against their NL East division rivals.

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Game #12 Recap: Lackluster Nats Fall to Braves 9-0

After a rather lackluster outing from the offense yesterday, nothing was working for the Nationals in the final game of this three game set against the Braves. The Braves got after Gio Gonzalez early with pinning three runs on him in a first inning that took him 28 pitches to get through.

The bottom of the first and the top of the second were fairly uneventful. Along with the bottom of the second came a second injury scare in as many days when Danny Espinosa was hit in the hand with a pitch. He continued to play through the fourth inning before being replaced by Steve Lombardozzi.

Gio would make it through five innings on 98 pitches, but not before surrendering another four runs bringing his total to the day to 7. Zach Duke came in and did exactly what he’s supposed to do: try not to make the mess any worse and save the bullpen from having to pitch in a game that was by all accounts at this point, meaningless. Duke allowed two more runs, but they had no effect on the final outcome.

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Game #11: Zimmerman's Error Proves Costly in Loss....Again.

The Nats struggled to get anything going offensively in a 3-to-1 loss against the division-rival Atlanta Braves on Saturday. The loss was Washington’s second in a row, enough to drop the 3-game series. To add to the loss, catcher Wilson Ramos pulled his left hamstring trying to scrap out an infield hit in the eighth inning. Ramos is being evaluated, but the early word is the backstop could miss at least a couple of weeks. 

Atlanta starter veteran Tim Hudson held the Nats to one run on four hits over seven innings of work. Hudson’s counterpart, the Nationals’ ace Stephen Strasburg was saddled with the loss after allowing two unearned runs over six innings while striking out seven batters. Both starters cruised through the first inning, each allowing a baserunner but retiring the side unscathed. Braves second baseman Dan Uggla led off the second inning with a single off Strasburg. Two outs later, a wild pitch by Strasburg would allow Uggla to advance to second base - the Braves first runner to reach scoring position.

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Game #10 Recap: Nats Let One Slip Away

In the first of 19 match-ups between the titans of the NL East, the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves, what seemed like a statement game from the Nats turned into a nightmare.

The Nationals entered the eighth inning with a 4-1 lead on the strength of Bryce Harper’s fifth home run on the year, RBIs from Jayson Werth and Denard Span and Ross Detwiler’s efficient domination of the Braves hitters over seven innings. Detwiler continued to show how much he has evolved as a pitcher, shutting down one of the most potent line-ups in the majors for seven full innings, allowing only four hits and dealing five strikeouts. It was an outing completely undeserving of the no decision it was assigned.

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Series #4 Preview: Nationals vs Braves

What adifference a good series makes when it comes to being a baseball fan. Many Nats fans were on borderline suicide watch after handily losing two out of three in the series at Cincinnati. However, today everything is fine and things appear to be heading in the right direction with the Nationals sweep of the Chicago White Sox that brought several things to be upbeat about including: the return of Adam LaRoche (and his bat!), Ramos looking like he could start the 70/30 starting Catcher split tomorrow, Soriano notching his 5th save, a dominant Drew Storen and Dan Haren making steps in the right direction.

However, Nats fans cannot relish in the sweep of the White Sox for long. Less than 24 hours after the sweep was completed the boys with the Curly W’s on their chests will face off in a three game series against the pesky Atlanta Braves. The Braves are sporting an 8-1 record after dismantling the Phillies, Cubs and Marlins and are leading the Nationals by one game for first place in the division. Since it is still only the second week of the season that lead means absolutely nothing, but both Nationals and Braves fans will have a preview of what the season will start to look like after the dust has settled and the first Braves versus Nationals series is in the books.

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Games 144-146: Nats at Braves Series Preview

Amidst all the commotion over the Washington Nationals’ controversial decision to shut down ace Stephen Strasburg, John Lannan has quietly resumed business as usual. For the third time this season, Lannan was asked to make a start, and filled in admirably. But with the shutdown of Strasburg, Lannan is no longer simply a fill-in. The crafty lefty is now being counted upon to fill a rather large hole in the Major League’s best starting rotation. His veteran presence will be relied upon as the Nats attempt to clinch their first division title since they moved to Washington. With a sterling 2.41 ERA in his three starts this year, Lannan has proved that he is still a very capable Major League pitcher.

Following their sweep of the New York Mets in New York, the Nationals travel to Atlanta for what may be their most important series thus far in the season. At first glance, the Nationals’ 8.5 game lead over the Braves may look like a secure place to be this late in the season, but one must only look at the historic collapses of the Braves and the Red Sox last September to see how easily a late season collapse can doom a team. Therefore, this series will likely play a large factor in the shaping of the final few weeks.

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What the Dempster Trade Would Have Meant for the Nats

Over the weekend the Nats and Braves split a four game series which means that the Braves remain 3.5 games behind the Nationals. The big question is how much did Ryan Dempster improve the Braves. By my calculations that spot in the Braves rotation will be getting 13 more starts to finish out the year and if they were pitched by Jair Jurrjens it would be worth roughly -0.5 WAR and if they are pitched by Dempster roughly 1.9 WAR. The Braves in this trade picked up 2.5 games on the Nats which still has them a game back of the division lead, and any day now the Nats will be getting Jayson Werth back, and that could help the Nats more than any trade they could make. 

The Nats still have issues, but they had those issues this morning and the Braves making a trade for Dempster doesn't change the Nats issues or how they should approach those issues. With Ian Desmond now on the shelf the Nats have no one on their bench who can back-up at short stop, and if something were to happen to both Espinosa and Lombardozzi in a game they could end up with DeRosa and second and Zimmerman at short. The Nats lack a viable back-up middle infielder. 

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