Sep 17, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons (19) reacts after striking out against the Washington Nationals during the eighth inning at Nationals Park. The Nationals won 4 - 0. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Braves vs. Nationals Series Recap (9/17 – 9/18)

Game 1:  Nationals 6,  Braves 5

Credit: H. Darr Beiser-USA TODAY Sports

This was a game of twists and turns, an emotional roller coaster of a game, which I guess was appropriate given the reason why they were playing an early game on Tuesday as opposed to the night before.  After being postponed due to the tragedy at the Washington Naval Yard the day before, the first game of the split double-header did not start out well for Mike Minor or the Braves.  The Nationals got to work early on Minor by pushing 3 across in the first inning.  Minor, once again did not look sharp as he walked 3 in the first to go along with a couple of hits.  But then he actually settled in quite nicely and shut the Nats out over the next 5 innings only allowing 1 hit and 1 walk and giving the Braves bats a chance to wake up.

They finally did wake up in the 6th inning.  Elliot Johnson doubled to lead the inning off and eventually scored on a sac fly by Freddie Freeman to make it a 3-1 game.  The Braves struck again in the 7th.  With 2 outs and 2 on Fredi Gonzalez decided to pinch hit the struggling Dan Uggla for Minor.  Don’t say you didn’t do a double take there.  But Dan Uggla came through with a single to cut the lead back to 3-2 after the 7th.  The Braves would make their comeback complete in the 8th in dramatic fashion.  Following a Freeman walk, Evan Gattis crushed on 0-2 fastball into the center-field stands for a 2 run homer to give the Braves a 4-3 lead.  El Oso Blanco just has a flair for the dramatics it seems.  The Braves would tack on one more insurance run in the 9th to give closer Craig Kimbrel a 5-3 lead to work with to close out the Nationals.

Unfortunately the baseball gods didn’t quite see it that way.  The Braves pretty much gifted this game to the Nats.  Here is how the best closer in baseball blew the game: walk, infield single(should have been an out), walk, ground-out, error by the best defensive short-stop in baseball.  Not quite the normal way you would score 3 runs, but I’m sure the Nationals will take it.  Kimbrel was as wild as I have seen him in some time.  Could not locate any of his pitches.  It’s not like the Nationals hit him hard, cause the ball never made it out of the infield, it was just one of those innings where nothing seemed to go right for the Braves.  Not exactly the way you want to finish the first game of the day when you have to play another one that night.

Game 2:  Nationals 4,  Braves 0

In Game 2, the results were similarly bleak, but much less exciting. Tanner Roark slammed the door on the Braves with 7 scoreless innings, and that performance was more than enough to give Washington an easy win. Roark was dominant, allowing only 2 hits and 1 walk with 6 strikeouts, and the Braves offense was extremely underwhelming. In fact, the team managed only 5 hits during the game, and they were all singles against Roark and company.

On the mound, Freddy Garcia was actually very good, allowing only 1 run and 7 hits through 7 innings, but it wasn’t enough. More importantly, Jordan Walden was wretched in the 8th inning, giving up 3 runs on 4 hits, including a home run to Ryan Zimmerman. The performance of Walden is certainly something to watch going forward, but other than that, this was a case of running into a hot pitcher in Roark.

Game 3:  Braves 5,  Nationals 2

Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s a better result. The Braves scored 5 unanswered runs in the final 4 frames, picking up Alex Wood in a 5-2 win. Wood was unceremoniously tossed from the game after (correctly) arguing a balls-and-strikes call, but he had already been lifted after just 4.2 innings. He wasn’t atrocious (2 runs, 0 earned, and 6 hits), but it wasn’t the best stuff from Wood.

Fortunately, the offense got going late. Dan Uggla shockingly opened the scoring with a solo home run in the 6th, but the biggest blow came later in that frame on a 2-run blast from Justin Upton. It’s a great sign to see Upton swinging the bat well, and he went 2-for-4 with 2 runs scored in this one.

Fredi Gonzalez deployed 6 different pitchers out of the bullpen, and they combined for 4.1 innings of shutout ball. Washington managed only 1 hit and 1 walk against the entirety of ‘pen, and that was crucial in holding the new-found lead right where it was. This was a crucial win for the Braves, and they stopped the bleeding of Tuesday to lower their magic number to 2.

—–

Stay plugged in as we break out a series preview on Friday for the upcoming Cubs series.

Tags: Atlanta Braves Washington Nationals