Apr 2, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Atlanta Braves third baseman Chris Johnson (center) celebrates with catcher Gerald Laird (left) and pitcher Craig Kimbrel (right) after the Braves beat the Brewers 1-0 at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
The Atlanta Braves had an off day yesterday, and will continue with their season-opening road trip this afternoon, as they visit our nation’s Capital to take on division rival (and probably, at the moment, biggest rival) Washington Nationals over the weekend.
Even with the Opening Day loss, the Braves have started the season well, and there is already a plethora of things we can take out of the first three games to look forward to. The starting pitching hasn’t missed a beat (Julio Teheran made one mistake, and if he doesn’t, we might be looking at a 3-0 squad) and Dan Uggla is still getting out, but is completely destroying the ball. The Braves are having to rely on the home run ball early (they’ve only manufactured one run through three games), but the pitching is allowing that to not hinder the result of games – after all, the Bravos are undefeated when they score.
The Nationals are coming off a series with the New York Mets, in which they were able to garner a sweep. The series with the Bravos will mark their first three games of 2014 in Nationals Park.
Friday, April 4th – 1:05 PM ET – David Hale (1-0, 0.82 in 2013) vs. Jordan Zimmermann**
Things get underway right after lunch today, as David Hale makes his first ever road start after recording 11 pro innings last season, following the September call-up. We have seen the Braves throw young guys out there on the road before with good success, and while you hate to say the fourth, fifth and sixth games of the season are important, anytime the Braves and Nats get together this year, there will be something on the line. It is unclear who will start the game for Washington at this point given Jordan Zimmermann’s late scratch from Thursday’s start with flu-like symptoms, but if he is healthy, he will take the mound, and he has been tremendous over the past three seasons.
Saturday, April 5th – 7:05 PM ET – Julio Teheran (0-1, 3.00) vs. Stephen Strasburg (0-0, 6.00)
In a match-up of future All-Star aces, Julio Teheran and Steven Strasburg will square off in the second game of the series. Teheran pitched a magnificent game to begin the year, getting out of trouble nearly unscathed, if it weren’t for a fourth inning double allowed to Aramis Ramierez. Strasburg got the opening day start for Washington, no surprise there, but had a rough outting, going six innings but not garnering a decision, and allowed four runs on five hits. In his career, Strasburg has a 3.68 ERA against the Braves in 13 games played. Teheran faced the Nats four times last year, and posted a solid 2.25 ERA throughout.
It’ll be Mr. Alex Wood to close things out for the Braves in D.C., who looked like was in for a rocky game on Tuesday after allowing a home run on the first pitch of his season, but shut down the Brewers after that. After being pulled at a pitch count of 93, yet was still setting guys down with ease. He’s itching to get back on the mound, and hopefully he can repeat his success, and maybe Fredi G. will let him stay out a little longer. Opposing him will be Taylor Jordan, who is making his first appearance of 2014. Jordan faced the Braves last year in September, where he went six innings and only gave up two runs.
The Nationals aren’t necessarily playing lights-out in every fact, but they did grab a season-opening sweep. While they’re not getting production out of Bryce Harper, they are getting it from just about everywhere else in the lineup – Jose Lobaton, Anthony Rendon, Denard Span, Jayson Werth, etc.
The Braves are catching two guys making their season debuts, so it’ll in essence, be like an extension of the opening series, and hopefully they’ll be able to take advantage of arms that haven’t seen MLB action that counts yet.
Also, while the Nationals for a while were the team that, for whatever reason, had Atlanta’s number, over the past couple of years we have seen that change.
Regardless, these games and series are always fun, the fans get into it, and it’s great to care this much about three beginning of the year games in the first weekend of the season.