So, the week the Nats come to town, I get shipped to…DC! Because, that’s the way it works in my life. Last night, I was out drinking in and around Foggy Bottom while Tim Hudson decided it was best not to leave it up to chance on the third try. The Braves unloaded on Gio Gonzalez for the second time this year, suggesting that they have a really good book on him. Mostly they just seem to be sitting on his fastball and daring him to strike them out with off-speed stuff, and crushing heaters in the zone. Which sort of aligns with what they do in general. The lineup K’d 9 times in four innings against him last night, but they wrapped those 9 K’s around seven hits and five walks, for a net-net of five runs in four innings. You’ll take that every last time.
In a game where you win 8-1, there’s no shortage of offensive highlights, but the primary narratives out of last night’s drubbing was Andrelton Simmons (3-5, 3 RS) at the top of the order; Chris Johnson continuing to rake (this time in the 2-hole, which, well, getting guys on base for the heart of this order is just a generally fantastic idea); and Evan Gattis getting his groove back after a brief hiccup with mere humanity there for a bit. Teams seem to have fallen into the “just don’t give him anything to hit” theory of pitching around Justin Upton, which is why it’s so good to have Freddie Freeman, maybe the most underrated hitter in baseball, back in the cleanup slot.
On the down side, BJ Upton continues to struggle at nearly every facet of the game, and Reed Johnson is making no case for his continued presence on the roster once McCann returns. Success! has clearly played himself into the fourth OF role, and as odd as it is to say, Tyler Pastornicky may be more useful to a baseball team than Reed Johnson these days.
All of which are details around a classic Tim Hudson start to notch his 200th career win, on a night where he also doubled and was gifted with a HR when Bryce Harper Cansecoed a fly ball out over the fence instead. Huddy was on his game, the offense blasted out an early lead and it was cruise control all night. Anthony Varvaro came out of the pen in the eighth, because, why not? It’s good to know that Anthony Varvaro isn’t dead, I suppose.
This was the Braves ninth straight win over Washington, and the head to head series between these two clubs is beginning to take on the feel of those mid-2000 match-ups against the Phillies, only with the Braves being the dominant team instead of the team having its heart torn out.
Paul Maholm attempts to bounce back tonight after getting pasted his last outing in Detroit. He squares off against the Nat’s best starter, Jordan Zimmerman. 7:10 start.