It was a night that saw benches clear and tensions rise in our nation’s capitol, but thanks to a two-out two-run single by Evan Gattis, the Braves inch one step closer to clinching the NL East division title, and extend the win streak to 12 games in a row with a 2-1 victory over the Washington Nationals.
The bench-clearing standoff was most likely the highlight of the night in a very close game. Julio Teheran hit Bryce Harper with a fastball, and Harper did not take too kindly too it. Now, I don’t want to get on a soapbox and preach, but this was completely uncalled for by Harper. In no way shape or form did Teheran, who has hit 11 batters this season, mean to hit Harper who was the potential go-ahead run. It make no sense for the way Harper reacted to it, and just goes to show that he has a ton of growing up to do.
Evan Gattis, who came up for Jason Heyward leaving due to injury, delivered in the clutch when his team needed it the most. With runners on second and third and two outs, Gattis lined a ball to right field to plate two runs and give the Braves a 2-1 lead. Time and time again the one they call “El Oso Blanco” has stepped up and delivered for this team when they need it the most, and it proved again with that hit.
As for Heyward, he left the game after one at bat due to a strained neck after fouling off a pitch. He is listed day-to-day. Hopefully it’s just something minor as he has been red hot as of late in his new lead-off role and setting the table for guys behind him.
Justin Upton continues to swing a hot bat. Upton was 2-4 tonight and seems to me like he’s back to being the Upton we all know and loved in the beginning of the year. Upton hit two screamers back up the box, which is a great sign that he’s seeing the ball well.
It was a very effective night for Braves’ starter Julio Teheran. Teheran gave up just four hits, one run (a home run by Harper), walked two and struck out four in six innings of work. It was a much better pitching performance by Teheran than in his last outing against the Rockies–where he only able to go five innings despite striking out 11 batters.
The Braves bullpen continues to dazzle during this win streak. The trio of Avilan, Walden and Kimbrel pitched three innings of one hit, one walk, no runs and six, count ‘em, six strikeouts (Walden and Kimbrel struck out the side). Avilan’s ability to walk the tightrope and get LaRoche to ground out to end a bases loaded threat to end the seventh, Walden’s ability to overpower the three batters he faced with a combination of fastballs and breaking stuff, and Kimbrel striking out Harper to end the game with 99 mph heat was an absolute perfect way to end the game
The Braves are now 14 1/2 games up on the Nationals and, I don’t want to get ahead of myself but it’s worth noting, the magic number is now 35 games. They are back in action tomorrow night–same time, same place. Kris Medlen takes the mound for the Braves who are looking for their fourth consecutive sweep and thirteenth win in a row. Medlen will be opposed by the Nationals’ Jordan Zimmerman, who is looking for his 14th win of the season.