July 4, 2015

Washington Nationals Game 77 Review: Stellar Zimmermann leads Nats over Braves

Jordan Zimmermann threw 7 2/3 shutout innings and the Washington Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves for the ninth straight time, 6-1, at Turner Field in Atlanta.

The winning streak extends back to April 28, when the Nats overcame a nine-run deficit to win courtesy of Dan Uggla’s ninth inning homer.

Zimmermann allowed six hits and no walks, having no trouble mowing down the Braves well into the eighth inning. He struck out six and threw 85 of his 109 pitches for strikes.

Meanwhile, the top of the order was getting things done offensively. The 1-4 hitters, Denard Span, Danny Espinosa, Yunel Escobar and Bryce Harper all had multi-hit games, with Espinosa going 3-5 with two runs scored.

Clint Robinson hit his third home run of the season, which capped a four-run rally in the first inning against Braves starter Shelby Miller, who allowed a season-high five runs total on eight hits and three walks in his five innings.

NEXT GAME: Wednesday at 7:10 pm in Atlanta. Doug Fister (3-3, 4.15) faces Rookie Matt Wisler (1-1, 3.75).

Washington Nationals Series Preview: Atlanta Braves

As terrible as June has seemed at times for the Nationals, they might be sorry to see it go.

After starting the month 6-11, the Nationals have found their stride this month, finishing up 8-1 to enter their last game of the month – and the first game of a 3-game set with the Braves – at 14-12 overall in June.

The Nationals (42-34) head to Atlanta 6 games ahead of the Braves (36-40), and two and a half games in front of the second-place Mets. The Mets open up a series with the Cubs in New York.

*The Last Time…

If the Nationals didn’t turn their season around on April 28th, when they came from behind to beat the Braves 13-12, they at least set a tone for their play against Atlanta this season. After losing to the Braves in the teams’ first matchup this year, the Nationals have now won 8 straight against Atlanta, including last week’s three-game sweep in Washington.

*In The Other Dugout

As hot as the Nationals have been lately, the Braves have been cold. The Braves have lost five of six to drop four games below the .500 mark and face Washington with Freddie Freeman still on the disabled list. The Braves do get to give the Nationals their best shot – Shelby Miller, Tuesday’s starter for Atlanta, went seven strong innings against the Nationals last week. Matt Wisler will pitch the second game in his third major league start, and Manny Banuelos will make his major league debut in the series finale.

*Matchup To Watch

Nick Markakis will be one to watch this week – against Jordan Zimmermann, Markakis is 7 for 21 with a homer, he’s 9 for 29 with a homer and 8 RBI against Doug Fister, and 5 for 16 (.313) against Max Scherzer. Overall against the Nationals this year Markakis is hitting .351 in 37 at-bats…but he hasn’t driven in a run.

On the Nationals side, Anthony Rendon is 4 for 11 against Shelby Miller, and when the Nationals faced Matt Wisler last week every starter had a hit against him, including an Ian Desmond home run.

*Probables
Tuesday, 7:10pm: Jordan Zimmermann (5-5, 3.42 ERA) vs. Shelby Miller (5-3, 1.94 ERA)

Wednesday, 7:10pm: Doug Fister (3-3, 4.15 ERA) vs. Matt Wisler (1-1, 3.75 ERA)

Thursday, 7:10pm: Max Scherzer (9-5, 1.79 ERA) vs. Manny Banuelos (Major League Debut)

Washington Nationals Game 72 Review: Desmond’s Sacrifice Beats the Braves

A sacrifice fly hit to left field by Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond off reliever David Ardsma in the eleventh inning with one out and the bases loaded led Washington to a 2-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves in D.C. after a solid eight-inning performance from starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann on Wednesday night. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 71 Review: Strasburg gives Nats solid five innings in win over Braves

Stephen Strasburg pitched five shutout innings and the Washington Nationals defeated the Atlanta Braves 3-1 on Tuesday at Nationals Park.

Strasburg, making his first start since being activated from the disabled list with an assortment of ailments, hit 97-98 on the radar gun most of the night and allowed just four hits and one walk. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Series Preview: Atlanta Braves

If it’s possible for a team to be as charmed as it has been snakebitten, this year’s Washington Nationals have found that balance.

Just when it seemed like things couldn’t go any worse for the Nationals in June — Bryce Harper was hurt Thursday night, the same week Ryan Zimmerman was placed on the disabled list — the Nationals bounced back…with authority: a three-game sweep of the hottest team in baseball, the Pittsburgh Pirates; A no-hitter by Max Scherzer; Harper returning to homer in two straight games on Saturday and Sunday.

The end result: the Nationals (37-33) reclaimed first place in the National League East, moving a game and a half in front of the struggling Mets.

Next, the Atlanta Braves (35-35) come to Washington for three games. The Braves have played well enough recently to get back to .500 and move to within two games of the Nationals.

The Last Time…

When the Nationals and Braves last met in May, the Nationals swept a three-game series in Washington. It was the series before that, though, where the Nationals turned their season around (for the first time) by taking two out of three from the Braves in late April, including the dramatic come-from-behind 13-12 win. The Nationals are 5-1 against Atlanta so far this season.

In The Other Dugout

Exciting young pitchers for the Atlanta Braves…sound familiar? The Nationals will be facing Shelby Miller as a member of the Braves for the first time in this series — they missed him in the rotation the first two times these two teams met. Miller came over from the Cardinals in the Jason Heyward deal this off-season and the 24-year-old has been everything the Braves could have hoped for: In 14 starts he’s posted a 1.99 ERA and had two shutouts. The Nationals will also face Matt Wisler on Thursday. All the 22-year-old did in his major league debut last week was go eight innings, giving up just one run, as the Braves came from behind to get him a win.

Matchup To Watch

These two teams are very familiar with one another, and there are a few players whose numbers reflect a comfort level: Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon (due to make his first appearance against the Braves this season) will face Alex Wood Tuesday night. Harper is 7 for 14 (.500) against Wood, and Rendon is 8 for 13 (.615) with a home run against him. For the Braves, Nick Markakis is 9 for 26 (.346) with a homer against Thursday night’s Nationals starter, Doug Fister. And if Freddie Freeman is healthy enough to play this series (he missed the series against the Mets, and had another day to rest his wrist with the day off on Monday), he is 9 for 24 (.375) against Jordan Zimmermann and 12 for 28 (.429) with three home runs against Stephen Strasburg.

Probables

Tuesday, 7:05pm: Alex Wood (4-4, 3.40 ERA) vs. Stephen Strasburg (3-5, 6.55 ERA)

Wednesday, 7:05pm: Shelby Miller (5-3, 1.99 ERA) vs. Jordan Zimmermann (5-5, 3.75 ERA)

Thursday, 4:05pm: Matt Wisler (1-0, 1.13 ERA) vs. Doug Fister (2-3, 4.80 ERA)

Washington Nationals Game 31 Review: Bryce. Harper.

BRYCE HARPER WALKOFF LIFTS NATS ABOVE .500 FOR THE FIRST TIME THIS YEAR

The Washington Nationals blew a five-run lead and found themselves in a tie game in the ninth inning. No matter, though, as the hottest hitter in baseball was due up in the bottom half.

With one on and one out, Bryce Harper turned around a slider over 400 feet into the right center bleachers, lifted the Nats to an 8-6 win over the Atlanta Braves. With the win, the Nats move above .500 (16-15) for the first time this season. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 30 Review: Nats crumple Braves 9-2, return to .500

HARPER AND ESPINOSA COMBINE FOR FOUR HOMERS, GIO CRUISES THROUGH SEVEN

A day of rest will do any team good, but is that always true when a team is on a streak? The Washington Nationals came out of their Thursday off day right where they had left off on Wednesday, beating the Atlanta Braves in the series opener by a score of 9-2. Gio Gonzalez notched eight strikeouts and just one walk in seven innings of two-run ball for his third win of the 2015 campaign. Bryce Harper added a pair of homers — his fourth and fifth in the past two games — to cement the win for Gonzalez and the Nats.

Freddie Freeman of the Braves continued his reign of terror against the Nationals, going 2 for 4 with an RBI single in the third, and a double in the first that setup the only other Braves run. The Nationals will, at some point, figure out Freddie Freeman, but they just haven’t to date. His 10-for-17 season with three RBI against Washington is by far his best split.

Fortunately for Washington, the Braves only have just the one Freddie Freeman.

Jayson Werth struck back for the Nats in the bottom of the fourth with a solo shot halfway up the seats in left field, his first of the year. Werth has struggled with power so far this season, a part of his recovery from off-season shoulder surgery. Werth’s average is up .192, though, about 25 points higher than it was a week ago. Progress is slow, but as long as there’s progress, life is good for the Nats’ bearded left fielder.

Bryce Harper and Danny Espinosa each had two home runs tonight against Braves pitching, combining for eight RBIs. The Braves could do no right on Friday when it came to either player.

Eric Stults could not resist a 1-2 fastball to Harper, and Harper sent it deep into the outfield seats to put the Nationals ahead in the sixth. That was all Stults could manage on the day, going six innings, striking out seven, but the three runs on two homers took their toll.

Danny Espinosa greeted Brandon Cunniff in the seventh inning and take his 94-mph offering deep into the visiting bullpen for his 3rd home run of the year. He repeated the performance against Trevor Cahill in eighth inning, part of a five-spot the Nationals put up that inning.

The most impressive shot of the night belonged to Harper in the eighth, a no-doubter off Braves’ rookie Williams Perez in his major league debut. Harper took his 92-mph first pitch and deposited deep into the lower deck in right center. Perez will look back on that and cringe, or he might say “the best hitter in the game bested me.” Either way, he’ll have something to remember.

Matt Grace and Blake Treinen combined for two scoreless inning, with Grace giving up just a single, and Treinen slicing and dicing the Braves in the ninth to finish the game.

HERO: Bryce Harper, for his fourth and fifth home runs in two games. The first yardshot put the Nationals ahead for good in the sixth, and the second one put the game far out of reach in the eighth. 10 RBIs in two games is pretty good. I guess. Maybe.

GOAT: No goats! Celebrate with these fainting goats.

NATS NOTES:

  • Running wild: Harper’s TOOTBLAN in the third inning was his 3rd of the year.
  • Everyone digs the longball: All the Nationals’ runs on Friday night came on the long-ball.
  • First time for everything: Harper is the first player in franchise history to hit five HR in two games.

NEXT UP: The Nationals and Braves play again at 4:05pm on Saturday, a rare start time, Julio Teheran (3-1, 3.82) vs. Doug Fister (2-1, 2.61)

Washington Nationals Series Preview: Atlanta Braves

We’re going to jump right into The Last Time… today, because there’s no talking about this series without bringing up the last one. When all is said and done with the 2015 Nationals, the matchup with the Braves in Atlanta at the end of April — and specifically Dan Uggla’s go-ahead home run — could prove to be the turning point.

The back-to-back 13-run games for Washington (14-15) certainly spurred the Nationals (they’ve won seven of nine since), but it hasn’t sunk the Braves (14-14). They’ve gone 4-5 in that same span, but are still a half-game in front of the Nationals in the division.

In The Other Dugout

Before the last series with Atlanta we focused on Freddie Freeman’s offensive struggles. He seems to have figured things out at the plate since then:

Freeman’s batting average has jumped from .254 when the Nationals arrived in Atlanta on April 27 to .318 now, and he’s hitting at a .461 clip in those ten games.

Matchup To Watch

  • Eric Stults pitched the Braves to their one win in the three game series at the end of April, but Danny Espinosa went 2 for 3 in that game with a double. Espinosa is 5 for 9 overall with a homer against Stults, Friday night’s starter for Atlanta.
  • Julio Teheran, who starts for the Braves on Saturday, was spotted a 9-1 lead in his last start against the Braves before the Nationals came storming back. It shouldn’t be a surprise he gave up 10 hits — a lot of Nationals have good hitting numbers against him, led by Denard Span’s .400 average (12 for 30) and Bryce Harper’s .421 (8 for 19).

Probables

Friday, 7:05pm: Eric Stults (1-2, 4.91 ERA) vs. Gio Gonzalez (2-2, 3.86 ERA)

Saturday, 4:05pm: Julio Teheran (3-1, 3.82 ERA) vs. Doug Fister (2-1, 2.61 ERA)

Sunday, 1:35pm: Alex Wood (1-2, 4.32 ERA) vs. Jordan Zimmermann (2-2, 4.15 ERA)

Nats Nightly: Nationals 13-4 over Braves to take 2 of 3 in Atlanta

Dave Nichols of District Sports Page and Patrick Reddington and Doghouse of Federal Baseball discuss the Washington Nationals 13-4 win over the Atlanta Braves.

Check Out Baseball Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with District Sports Page Nats Nightly on BlogTalkRadio

Washington Nationals Game 23 Review: Nationals 13-run Torrent Sinks Braves

NATIONALS BATS HERALD SERIES VICTORY IN ATLANTA, RECORD OFFENSIVE OUTPUT IN 13-4 VICTORY

The Washington Nationals found their groove on Wednesday night behind the arm of Jordan Zimmermann and a surging offense that is finally living up to expectations. The Atlanta Braves fell 13-4 to the resurrected Nationals before a crowd only slightly more engaged than the one at Camden Yards today.

The Braves leapt out to an early lead in the bottom of the first on back to back hits by Freddie Freeman and A.J. Pierczynski. Jordan Zimmermann had a few rough spots in his day – and concerns about his velocity are certainly still apt – but he was largely able to work himself out of jams.

The Nationals put together a strong offensive presence on Wednesday night, with Bryce Harper notching a 2-for-4 night with a walk and an RBI, and he was joined by Wilson Ramos (3-4, RBI, R) and Danny Espinosa (4-5, 2 RBI, R). Jayson Werth got his first hit of the series, an RBI single, in the seventh for the Nationals. All night, the Nationals got hits when they needed them, a welcome trend that must continue if the Nationals want to make a run at the postseason.

If I’d have told my February self about the impact of Dan Uggla on the Nationals’ lineup, he’d laugh himself silly. The Nats signed Uggla in the off-season to a minor-league deal after the Braves released him, putting the Nationals on the hook for league minimum compensation. In this series, the Braves were given the unlikely pleasure of watching as the man they’re paying $13.5M — more than any of the Braves’ 25-man roster is making this year — beat them like rented mules.

Uggla’s line against the Braves this week was 5-11, with 8 RBI and 5 runs scored, and his 3-run game-winning homer to cap Tuesday night’s improbable comeback was a moment to remember. Uggla’s time with the Nats may be short – he’s believed to be the corresponding move when Rendon returns – but no one can say it wasn’t memorable.

Only Ian Desmond lacked a hit in Wednesday’s game, every other starter gathered at least one. Desmond’s slump – especially considering Espinosa’s surge – is concerning. He was hitless in the Braves series (0-13), and is 0-for-21 dating back five games.

HERO: Jordan Zimmermann had a bang-up night for the Nats, throwing 7 IP of 4-run ball, striking out seven. Turns out he can hit, too, and a 3-run single in the fourth inning put the Nats ahead for good.

GOAT: No goats tonight! Enjoy this creepy goat.

NATS NOTES:

  • The series victory against the Braves was their first since April 15th, when they took three of four from Philadelphia.
  • Uggla’s 8 RBI in the Braves series are just two short of his season total in 2014.
  • Bryce Harper is currently on pace for 155 walks in a season. There are four players – ever – who have done that.
  • Sammy Solis was available in the bullpen tonight, but has yet to make his Nationals debut.
  • 13 runs in back to back games is a franchise first, the Expos never accomplished that feat.

NEXT UP: Nats v. Mets series with huge divisional implications begins Thursday night. Strasburg (1-2, 4.88) vs. deGrom (2-2, 2.96) at 7:10pm

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