July 31, 2014

Nats Nightly: Nationals 4-1 over Braves to earn split of four-game set

Dave Nichols of District Sports Page and Patrick Reddington and “Doghouse” of Federal Baseball discuss the Washington Nationals 4-1 win over the Atlanta Braves for a split of the 4-game series.

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

Washington Nationals Game 74 Review: Nats’ Pitching Staff Silences Braves in 4-1 Win

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon for baseball at Nationals Park, the Nationals’ pitching staff shutdown the Atlanta Braves to lead Washington to a 2-2 split of the series with a 4-1 win. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 73 Review: Fister Pitches Gem in Nats’ 3-0 Win Over Braves

In front of a sellout crowd at Nationals Park on Saturday night, Washington Nationals pitcher Doug Fister tossed his best game of the season to help his team reclaim the NL East lead by beating the Atlanta Braves, 3-0. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 72 Review: Nats’ Comeback Bid Falls Short in 6-4 Loss to Braves

On a beautiful night for baseball at Nationals Park, the Washington Nationals’ dropped a heartbreaking game to the Atlanta Braves in extra innings, 6-4. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 71 Review: Floyd And Co. Shut Down Nats in Braves’ 3-0 win

In front of 32,193 at Nationals Park on Thursday evening, the Atlanta Braves shutdown the Washington Nationals en route to winning Game 1 of the series, 3-0. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals vs Atlanta Braves Series Preview

After completing a two-games sweep of the Houston Astros, the Washington Nationals now welcome in the Atlanta Braves for a four-game showdown between the top two teams in the NL East.

Teams

Washington Nationals (37-33, 1st in NL East) vs Atlanta Braves (36-35, 2nd in NL East)

Schedule

Game 1: Thursday, June 19 @ 7:05 PM EST on MLB Network

Game 2: Friday, June 20 @ 7:05 PM EST

Game 3: Saturday, June 21 @ 7:15 PM EST on FOX

Game 4: Sunday, June 22 @ 1:35 PM EST

Probable Pitchers (Season Stats; Career vs Opponent)

Game 1: Jordan Zimmermann (5-3, 2.98; 3-1, 2.98) vs Gavin Floyd (1-2, 2.98; 1-2, 4.45)

Game 2: Stephen Strasburg (6-5, 3.06; 3-5, 3.86) vs Mike Minor (2-4, 4.42; 3-2, 4.96)

Game 3: Doug Fister (5-2, 3.08; 1-0, 3.86) vs Julio Teheran (6-4, 2.31; 3-1, 2.93)

Game 4: Tanner Roark (6-4, 2.85; 1-0, 2.55) vs Ervin Santana (5-4, 4.12; 0-0, 3.67)

Players to Watch

Washington:

  • Adam LaRoche (1B): .302 BA, .416 OBP, 8 HR, 35 RBI
  • Ian Desmond (SS): 13 HR, 44 RBI, .238 BA
  • Jayson Werth (RF): 74 H, 6 HR, 33 RBI, .280 BA
  • Aaron Barrett (RHP): 24.1 IP, 1.85 ERA, 29 K

Atlanta:

  • Justin Upton (LF): .278 BA, 14 HR, 37 RBI, .510 SLG
  • Evan Gattis (C): .294 BA, 16 HR, 38 RBI, .934 OPS
  • Freddie Freeman (1B): .276 BA, 11 HR, 36 RBI, 20 doubles
  • Craig Kimbrel (Closer): 27.1 IP, 1.98 ERA, 50 K, 20 SV

Notables on the Injury Report

Washington:

For the Nationals, Wilson Ramos and Bryce Harper are the two most notable players on this series’ injury report. Don’t expect either of them to return for this series, which isn’t always bad considering drama always finds Harper when these two teams square off.

Atlanta: 

The Braves will be down a reliever for this series as David Carpenter is on the 15-day DL with a biceps injury. Should Atlanta need their bullpen early in a game, that’s one thing to keep an eye on. More importantly, Justin Upton left Tuesday’s game early and missed Wednesday’s game due to an illness. Following Wednesday’s game, he told the media that he still felt dizzy.

Series Notes

Just three times since coming to D.C. in 2005 has Washington taken the season series from Atlanta, the last time being 2012. In their past 25 games going back to last year, the Nationals are 7-18 against Atlanta, including 1-5 this year. In that same span, Washington is 3-9 at home.

Currently up 1.5 games on the Braves, Washington could extend their lead to 5.5 games with a sweep. With Bryce Harper’s and Wilson Ramos’ returns just around the corner, along with the All-Star break, that would be quite the boost as the playoff picture begins to shape up.

A Chesapeake, Virginia native, Justin Upton sure doesn’t mind playing the Nationals. In 196 at bats, he’s hitting .296 with a .391 OBP, nine home runs and 27 RBI. He’s done quite a bit of damage at Nats Park, hitting .299 with five home runs and 12 RBI. Should he play, he could be quite the difference maker.

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Brian Skinnell is a sports writer born and raised in the Washington, D.C.-metro area. He’s had work published on Yahoo Sports and Rant Sports, and has made several radio show appearances across the country to discuss his works. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+!

Washington Nationals Game 12 Review: Nats blasted by Braves 10-2

The Washington Nationals would just as soon forget about the past weekend and get the heck out of Atlanta.

For the third day in a row, the Atlanta Braves took charge early and knocked off the visiting Nats. On Sunday, the Braves scored six run off Gio Gonzalez in the first two innings and cruised to a 10-2 win.

Gonzalez (L, 2-1, 3.50) gave up six earned runs on nine hits and four walks, striking out six. Atlanta scored three runs in both the first and second innings, including Justin Upton’s fourth home run of the season in the first inning, and Freddie Freeman’s fourth of the season in the second. Upton went 8-for-10 with two homers and five RBIs in the three-game sweep.

Gonzalez gutted out another four innings, going six total. Ross Detwiler took over in the seventh, and promptly allowed four more runs — through just two were earned — on two hits and a walk, and Andrelton Simmons’ first homer of the season.

The Nats got a run in the fifth inning. Kevin Frandsen doubled to lead off, took third on Danny Espinosa’s bunt single, and scored on Jose Lobaton’s ground out.

Adam LaRoche homered in the ninth inning off reliever Gus Schlosser.

The Nats move to Miami to face the Marlins on Monday. Jordan Zimmermann (0-0, 8.10) takes on Brad Hand (0-0, 3.24) at 7:10 pm.

Washington Nationals Game 6 Review: Jordan Solid as Nats Top Braves to Avoid Sweep

DESMOND HOMER LIFTS NATS, BLEVINS RECORDS FIRST WIN AS A NATIONAL

With Bryce Harper out of the lineup Sunday afternoon, the Washington Nationals tallied just four hits to top the Atlanta Braves 2-1 by the skin of their teeth.

Taylor Jordan (ND, 1.42 ERA) allowed one run, six hits and two walks over 6.1 innings pitched, but he kept the Nats in contention despite their slow-to-produce offense.

Manager Matt Williams gave Bryce Harper the day off after the 21-year-old outfielder went 0-for-4 Saturday in the Nats’ 6-2 loss to the Braves. Harper, who is 3-for-21 with 10 strikeouts, has shown visible frustration over the past few days, throwing down his helmet and stomping back to the dugout in dismay.

The Nats also sat Ryan Zimmerman for the start of Sunday’s matchup due to shoulder soreness, but he pinch-hit for reliever Tyler Clippard in the eighth, alleviating some fears for now.

Testing yet another new lineup, the Nats took an early lead in the first off left-hander Alex Wood (L, 1-1).

Leading off for the first time in his MLB career, Anthony Rendon reached on a bunt single and advanced to second on a single by Kevin Frandsen. Jayson Werth hit an infield single, allowing Rendon to come home on a throwing error by second baseman Dan Uggla. To bring the Nationals to a halt, however, Wood retired the next three batters.

In fact, Washington failed to send another runner to base until Sandy Leon reached first on an error by Chris Johnson in the fifth.

Before that point, Jordan found himself in a bit of a jam in the fourth after walking Johnson and Justin Upton with one out. The situation went from bad to worse on a throwing error by Danny Espinosa, which allowed Dan Uggla to reach first to load the bases. But, Jordan pitched himself out of the inning, retiring Gerald Laird and Andrelton Simmons to end the inning.

And, in the top of the sixth, the Braves seemed to figure out Jordan’s repertoire. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 4 Review: Nats fall to Braves and umpire review in home opener

2014 Opening Day

2014 Opening Day

ZIMMERMANN STRIKES OUT 9 IN FIVE INNING NO-DECISION

Expect another dozen and a half of these.

The Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves played in a tightly-contested, low scoring contest that came down to which team made the most critical errors — and maybe benefitted from a peculiar interpretation of a ground rule — as the Nats fell to the Braves 2-1 in the Nats home opener before a capacity crowd of 42,834 at Nationals Park.

Jordan Zimmermann rebounded from the illness that forced him to miss Thursday’s start in New York to pitch five quality innings, but the Braves scored a run off Tyler Clippard in the eighth inning and the Nats were futile in a comeback against Craig Kimbrel, in addition to making three outs on the basepaths during the game which contributed greatly to stifle the offense.

The play in question was a ball off the bat of Ian Desmond in the fifth inning, which came to rest under the padding of the fence in left field. Outfielder Justin Upton originally lifted his arms to signal the ball was stuck. The on-field umpires did not rule timeout, and Desmond rounded the bases for an apparent inside-the-park home run.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez asked for a replay, and the replay umpires in New York overturned the play on the field, ruling the ball was “stuck” under the padding, though Upton eventually retrieved the ball easily when it became apparent the umps would not stop the play.

Regardless, the Nats had four more ups to right the perceived damage, and could do nothing against the Braves pitching.

After the pomp and circumstance of the home opener, the teams got down to the business at hand and both starters cruised through the first three innings. Zimmermann allowed a second inning single to Dan Uggla; David Hale back-to-back singles by Bryce Harper and Ian Desmond in the bottom — though the hits were sandwiched around Harper being caught stealing 2-4-3-6.

Zimmermann’s big inning came in the fourth. Following a leadoff single to Freddie Freeman, 2013′s 19-game winner proceeded to strike out Chris Johnson, Justin Upton and Dan Uggla in succession, with Uggla being rung up on an inside curveball. All Uggla could do was shake his head in acknowledgement.

The Nats had Hale on the ropes in the bottom of the inning, but let him off the hook. With one out, Adam LaRoche drew a base on balls. Ryan Zimmerman nailed a liner to left that Justin  Upton misplayed into a double. But third base coach Bob Henley decided to send the not-fleet-of-foot LaRoche and Andrelton Simmons’ relay beat LaRoche to home by several feet, and LaRoche was out easily. Harper then K’d to end the frame, and slammed his bat and helmet for good measure.

Braves Catcher Evan Gattis waiting patiently for Nats Adam LaRoche

Braves Catcher Evan Gattis waiting patiently for Nats Adam LaRoche

Predictably, after the Nats wasted the opportunity, the very next Braves batter was Evan Gattis, and he sent a mammoth clout over the bullpen in left center for his first home run of the season, breaking up the scoreless tie.

Ian Desmond led off the bottom of the inning with a line drive into the left field corner. The ball came to a rest underneath the lip in the padding of the fence, and Desmond raced all the way around the bases for an apparent inside-the-park home run. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez requested a review, and the umpires then ruled that the ball was lodged under the padding and brought Desmond back out of the dugout and awarded a ground rule double, much to the anger of Nats fans.

Desmond was promptly thrown out trying to steal third base.

In the sixth, Anthony Rendon led off with a single and took second on reliever Gus Schlosser’s wild pitch. Werth walked, and Adma LaRoche followed with a ground ball to second. Werth was able to break up the double play attempt, and Ryan Zimmerman’s fly to center was deep enough to bring home Rendon from third to tie the game.

The Braves got to Tyler Clippard in the eighth. He walked leadoff hitter Jason Heyward. After B.J. Upton struck out — for the third time on the day — Heyward went first-to-third on Freddie Freeman’s single, then scored on Chris Johnson’s sacrifice fly to right.

The Nats got a single from Anthony Rendon and walk from Werth to start off the bottom of the eighth, but David Carpenter settled down for the Braves to strike out LaRoche, Zimmerman and Harper — the last looking — to squelch the rally.

The Nats went quietly in the bottom of the ninth against All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel, with Desmond and Jose Lobaton striking out before pinch-hitter Kevin Frandsen popped up to end the game.

The Nationals host the Braves Saturday night at 7:05 pm. Stephen Strasburg (0-0. 6.00) hosts Julio Teheran (0-1, 3.00).

Nats second opening day comes with added enthusiasm

The Washington Nationals play the Atlanta Braves in the first of a three-game series Friday at 1:10 pm. Sounds clinical when it’s put in those terms. That could describe any series opening game at any point in the season.

But this series opener is also the home opener on the schedule — the first of 81 games in the regular season for the Nats to play with a homefield advantage. It’s also the first time for many in attendance — yours truly included — to see the Nats for the first time in person this calendar year. Unless you were fortunate enough to make a pilgrimage to Viera for Spring Training, or shuffled up to New York to see the Mets series, you’re in the same boat.

This game would have been special – for fans, the players, the organization, the city – regardless of circumstances. But it comes on the heels of a three-game sweep of the division rival Mets. Most opening days come with as much uncertainty as excitement. But Friday’s home opener comes with added enthusiasm. We’ve already seen a lot of what the Nats could be this season in just three games

We’ve already seen Stephen Strasburg recover from a shaky start to strike out 10 in six innings. We’ve seen Gio Gonzalez dominate an undermanned Mets team — and smack a home run to boot.

Ryan Zimmerman’s second inning blast Thursday reminds us of just how important a player he is for the team, just as his throwing error Wednesday reminds us that his defense isn’t what it used to be, and may never be again.

Tanner Roark showed more of the promise in Thursday’s emergency start that he gave a glimpse of at the end of last season. Denard Span, Adam LaRoche and Danny Espinosa all had a promising opening series after last season’s disappointments. And Jayson Werth kept on hitting.

What we haven’t seen yet is Bryce Harper bust out with any noise yet. Manager Matt Williams indicated in his pregame press conference that Harper’s swing was a “tick off” so far. Asked to elaborate, Williams declined, saying he was not at liberty to talk about it. Cause for concern? Maybe, but worry? Not yet.

The Nats have won coming from behind late. They’ve dominated a game. And they’ve grinded a win out for a late-blooming prospect. We’ve seen a lot so far in just three games, and that makes the home opener that much more exciting for the home fans. This is a season of big possibilities. It’ll take six months to play out.

But we’ve already seen a lot.

Happy Opening Day everyone.

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