October 1, 2020

Washington Nationals Game 144 Review: Nats Lose As Braves Strike Late

NATS CAN’T OVERCOME ATLANTA’S LATE SURGE AGAINST BULLPEN

Looking for a sweep, the Washington Nationals fell to the Atlanta Braves in a Wednesday afternoon contest at Nationals Park, 6-2.

In the first two games of the Nats three-game series with the Braves, Washington used some early offense to boost them to victory. On Wednesday afternoon, Braves’ starter Aaron Harang kept Washington’s offense in check while Atlanta slowly built a lead in the latter innings of the contest.

On the mound for the Nationals, Stephen Strasburg got off to a hot start. Through the first four innings of the game, Atlanta was only able to muster two hits. In the top of the third, Strasburg spoiled an opportunity for the Braves as he struck out Freddie Freeman on a wicked curveball, then sawed off Justin Upton as he grounded out with Jason Heyward standing on third base.

The following inning, however, the Braves tallied the game’s first run.

Leading off the fifth, the other Upton, B.J, got a hold of a first-pitch fastball and put it in the centerfield seats to put Atlanta ahead, 1-0.

In the bottom of the frame, Washington answered.

After being held to just four hits through the first four innings, Denard Span (1-for-4) singled with two outs and advanced to third on a Kevin Frandsen (3-for-4) single. With Jayson Werth (0-for-3, BB) at the plate, Braves rookie catcher Christian Bethancourt let a 1-0 pitch get by him, which allowed Span to score and tie the game a 1-1.

Atlanta, however, took the lead for good when Justin Upton and Bethancourt both hit RBI singles of Strasburg to give the Braves a 3-1 lead in the top of the sixth.

Strasburg was done after pitching six full innings, giving up seven hits, three earned runs and striking out eight.

On to pitch the seventh inning for the Nationals, Jerry Blevins recorded just one out before being given the hook. After two singles and a walk to load the bases, Freeman hit a sacrifice fly to score Harang, who led-off the inning with a single. Ryan Mattheus then came in relief of Blevins, but served up a 2-RBI double to Justin Upton to put the Braves ahead, 6-1.

Rafael Soriano entered in the eighth for the first time since blowing his seventh save of the season on Sept. 5. After giving back-to-back one-out hits, Soriano then struck out Phil Gosselin and Freddie Freeman lined out to end the inning.

After seven full innings, Harang’s outing came to an end for Atlanta. David Carpenter kept the solid pitching going for the Braves, however, as the Nationals were able to muster one base runner on a Werth walk in the frame.

Blake Treinen pitched the top of the ninth for Washington, his first time on the mound since Sept. 3. With the help of an outfield assist by Denard Span, who threw Andrelton Simmons out at second, Treinen didn’t allow a base runner in his one inning of work.

Craig Kimbrel entered in the bottom of the ninth to close out the game for Atlanta. After Asdrubal Cabrera (1-for-4) lined out to lead off the inning, Bryce Harper (1-for-4, RBI) homered to right, his 12th long ball of the year. Kimbrel then struck out Danny Espinosa and Jose Lobaton to end the game.

With the 6-2 victory, Harang earned his 11th win of the season while Strasburg was handed his 11th loss.

On Thursday, the Nationals will head to New York for a four-game series with the Mets. In the series opener, Tanner Roark will toe the rubber for Washington opposite of the Mets’ Bartolo Colon. First pitch from Citi Field is set for 7:10 PM EST.

Game Notes

A couple notes coming out of the trainer room. Danny Espinosa (1-for-4) got the start at shortstop for the Nationals. Ian Desmond was given the day for a little rest for his back which tightened up during their Tuesday night victory. Kevin Frandsen got the start at third base. Anthony Rendon was given the day off as he was sick.

Stephen Strasburg, while he’s been shaky at times this year, pitched well enough to earn the win. Unfortunately for him, the Nationals couldn’t muster any support for their ace, something that’s been all too common going back to last year.

Jose Lobaton (0-for-4) caught his 12th stealing base runner this season on a perfect throw to second in the top of the sixth to snag Justin Upton. At roughly 35-percent, the Nationals’ catchers are the best when it comes to catching runners attempting to steal.

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Brian Skinnell is a sports writer born and raised in the Washington, D.C.-metro area and covers the Washington Nationals, Wizards and MiLB for District Sports Page. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+!

About Brian Skinnell

Brian Skinnell is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins, Nationals and college football. He is a born-and-raised follower of Washington, D.C. sports, “The” Ohio State Buckeyes and auto racing. A graduate of Shepherd University in December of 2014, he has a degree in Recreation and Leisure Studies with a Concentration in Sports Communications. Prior to joining District Sports Page (for his second stint), he spent time with Rant Sports, Yahoo Sports and the Washington Redskins. For his day job, he is an Editor for Team Velocity Marketing. Follow him on Twitter @Brian_Skinnell.

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