The Atlanta Braves have had their way with the Washington Nationals this season. Whenever the scales seem unbalanced, the Braves get some revenge against a Washington club that looks lost in head-to-head situations. Game one on Thursday night was no different, except with some negative news surrounding Gavin Floyd slightly overshadowing a 3-0 win.
The bad news is that Floyd had to leave the game after 6 innings with significant swelling on his pitching elbow. I’m not going to lie, it looked gross. It was sort of like watching someone instantly grow a fleshy, golf ball-sized zit on their elbow. We can only hope for the best, and I’m not a doctor, but elbow zits aren’t good news typically.
Floyd really held the Nats at bay for the first three innings, allowing the Braves to establish a slow start. In the fourth inning, the Braves strung together four straight singles by Freddie Freeman, Evan Gattis, Jason Heyward, and eventually, Chris Johnson. Johnson’s base knock chased home 2 runs, and the Braves were up 2-0.
In the 8th inning, CJ struck again after Freeman and Gattis were at the corners, knocking in Freddie. That would make the score 3-0 Braves, but the way the Nats were getting manhandled by Braves pitching, it felt like much more.
Floyd completed his 6 innings having allowed only 2 hits and no runs. The fact he left on the apparent injury is what made it all the more devastating, because he was hurling a gem with a low pitch count. I’ve pointed out before that Floyd has been battling much better than his record indicates, but I only hope now that we get to see more of him for the rest of the season.
Anthony Varvaro came in to relieve Floyd in the seventh inning, and he managed to get out of a jam after Jayson Werth doubled with no outs. After that, Jordan Walden made a dominant appearance in the 8th, allowing no hits. That meant it was Kimbrel time in the 9th.
With Craig in the game in the 9th, the Braves made a few defensive switches, putting in Ramiro Pena at 2nd to replace Tommy La Stella. Craig hadn’t pitched since the games against the Angels, so he had to battle some rust issues in this game. He faced Denard Span first, and after going 2-2 he made Span fly out to left. The crowd was deathly quiet in the Nationals ballpark as Craig worked. The Braves really took the air out of the building with their pitching. Kimbrel faced Anthony Rendon next and struggled again with command. After running the count full, Craig walked Rendon.
So with one runner aboard, Braves fans started to breathe a little quicker. The Nationals stadium got a little louder. That’s the nature of the closer when he makes mistakes. Craig was having issues getting the slider over the plate, and his fastball seemed to be tailing away from him. With Jason Werth next, the last thing Craig wanted to do was let him reach base and bring the tying run into plate. However, Kimbrel found the control just in time to get his slider through the zone, and struck out Werth. That brought LaRoche to the plate, and Craig mowed him down with the slider as well.
The Braves won the game with 3 runs on 11 hits, and some great pitching. The player of the game was Chris Johnson with his 2-for-4 day and 3 RBIs. Gavin Floyd gets an honorable mention, but the injury put a damper on things. The team went 4/12 with RISP, which is good enough in my book, especially when your staff is tossing shutouts. The Braves are 6-1 now against the Nationals and likely feel invincible when they face that squad. Hopefully, the streak continues well through this four game series.