Braves 8, Natinals 1

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.

138 thoughts on “Braves 8, Natinals 1”

  1. Well to be fair, BJ made a very good running catch against the wall to end the Natspos 6th (5th?) off LaRoche. (Who is back to doing his usual LaRochian sub-Mendoza things pre-All Star Break).

  2. At least the Braves only gave Reed Johnson a 1-year deal, unlike the two years we guaranteed Gerald Laird.

    I’m headed to the Braves game tonight for the first time this season, and am hoping the Braves can keep up the good work.

  3. Big ups to Huddy. And it is great to have Freeman back. With this lineup, even in games when we’re scoring runs we can look bad for long stretches — but Freddie always looks like he’s in control and knows what he’s doing, even when he makes an out. He is truly the rug that ties the whole room together.

  4. If the price of having McCann and Gattis available in the same game is to carry Gerald Laird as a third catcher, that’s a reasonable thing to live with. And if they don’t resign McCann in 2014, a Gattis/Laird catching tandem isn’t the worst thing in the world.

    What Laird gives you in 2013 is the ability to pinch hit with Gattis or McCann, or DH one of them in AL parks (and hopefully the WS.) I personally am okay with having Laird around if that means Gattis is my World Series DH rather than Dan Uggla.

  5. I went to her kickstarter page. Wonderful Southern accent. I miss it up here in Ohio.

    Once McCann comes back it will be interesting to see how they manipulate the roster. Then Beachy later this summer. Good problem to have.

  6. @5, Totally agreed. Evan Gattis was a non-roster invitee. Nobody predicted he would be playing this well, let alone above AA ball. Signing a veteran backup catcher after Ross left is a totally understandable thing to do considering we have Teheran pitching his first full year and probably a new catcher next year. I’m sure Wren and Gonzalez figured it would be Bethancourt at the time.

  7. I feel like a good number of people did predict that Gattis would be doing this. I believe it was irrational at the time (a lack of comparables was somehow being touted as a point in his favor), but so far they’ve been right.

  8. I was out on the town when my mlb app notified me of Hudson’s HR… I let out a big whaaaaaat that scared everyone around me. This team is so fun!

  9. @8, 10 – I’m not taking issue with signing Laird per se, just that we gave him a two-year deal. I realize that it’s not a huge deal in the grand scheme, but given how quickly things can change, it would have been great if the Braves could make plans to cover the catcher position in 2014 without the obligation to carry Laird if that’s not the optimal choice.

  10. The chief point in Gattis’s favor was that he hit the hell out of the ball the entire year before this, across effectively five leagues: rookie ball, high-A, double-A, and the Venezuelan Winter League in 2012, and then spring training in 2013.

    And now we can add the data point that he’s still hitting the hell out of the ball, and is beginning to kinda sorta look like a defensively rawer version of David Ross: strong arm, great power, iffy batting average. He has more power than Ross but isn’t as polished behind the plate, which is fine.

    What he’s done to this point in his major league career is basically comparable to Jeremy Lin: even though he’s only had a small sample size in the majors, it’s getting increasingly likely that he’ll have a brief career as a starter and a decadelong career as a backup.

  11. I’m not sure how the 2-year deal to Laird is problematic. He’s the backup catcher to Gattis while McCann is recovering. He’s the backup catcher to McCann/Gattis down the stretch. He’s the backup catcher to Gattis next year, assuming McCann walks.

    If McCann resigns in Atlanta, you still have the three catchers thing. It’s not like Bethancourt is demanding playing time in the bigs or anything.

  12. Dragging this topic back to Heyward: I just don’t understand why his recovery time would be four times longer than someone like Holliday. I know everyone’s case is unique and direct comparisons are to be avoided. It’s frustrating, though. I think this bothers me more regarding Heyward because there seems to be so much right about his profile and character. Naturally, we should all expect to see him nearing 40 homers this year. Of course, he has to get over every little nagging mechanical and physical flaw and issue just to be successful.

    What gives?

    /rant

    I like Jason Heyward, and people who are familiar with me on message boards know I expect a good season from him. He should be one of our top three hitters this year.

  13. How about we wait until Heyward actually does come back to decide if it took too long or not.

  14. @10
    The fact he hasn’t cured cancer and hit 755 HRs shows he was over-hyped.

    I don’t get the Laird hate around here. He has played well. He is not in whipping boy territory at all.

  15. Laird’s poor defense, which was supposed to be his strength, didn’t endear him to us. He is hitting well, and he doesn’t really deserve to be whipping boy, but Heyward’s hurt and BJ is really the only other player who’s far below expectations. It gets boring to keep beating on the same guy after a while.

  16. Laird is what he is. A backup catcher. People need to stop expecting Pudge or Mike Piazza back there, or even David Ross who spoiled us.

  17. If that change-up is new, or at least, not on scouting reports, look out. That was a good looking pitch.

    I liked the Walden acquisition when it was made. I think he’ll be pitching a lot of high leverage innings. And when its Kimbrel’s turn to miss significant time with an elbow injury, I think Walden will be the closer.

  18. Nickname for Laird? Mini-Fredi? Fredi2? FredGon2? My other brother Fredi? The resemblance is striking. Every time Laird took his mask off Monday night was weird.

    I can’t fathom why anyone is bent out of shape about the Laird signing. At the time we didn’t have a major league caliber catcher that could play. That Gattis has, thus far, proven to be a decent player doesn’t make it a bad deal at all.

    Bethany’s score book looks cool. If only I knew how to keep score.

  19. I would love to watch a staring contest between Fredi and Laird. That would be amazing.

  20. Love the design work, Bethany. Really gorgeous. Any chance you can expand the available t-shirt sizes to 3X? (I’ll pledge anyway, even if you can’t, but that logo shirt is teh hotness.)

  21. #23
    I still keep score at every game. Helps me pay attention, but really, it’s my ongoing nod to geekdom.

    Edit: Wow, Jordany Valdespin is one hell of a pinch-hitter.

  22. Lots of respect for those who do, but as a pitcher frequently on the bench, I did enough score-keeping during my playing days to last a lifetime. I’ll pass on it as a hobby.

  23. While Hudson seemingly decided to leave nothing to chance in capturing his 200th career victory with an awesome hitting display,
    Did anyone else notice that Fredi notched his 200th career victory as a Braves manager last nite?

  24. Thank you all so much, it’s been a whirlwind today. It’s all very humbling.

    @31 My shirt folks say they can indeed get a 3XL! Sorry, I didn’t realize this shirt company made them in that size or I would have put that in the options.

  25. @15 – Recovery times can vary not just from person to person based upon individual physiology, but also from case to case based upon the severity of the infection/inflammation. It sounds like Jason had this for a couple of days prior to seeking treatment (maybe he was being a tough guy?). During that time the appendix likely became very inflamed and may have at least focally ruptured, in which case infective fluid begins to spill out into the peritoneal cavity and triggers at the least a localized peritonitis.

    I don’t know if that’s what happened to Heyward or not; I state this merely to give a little background into how one person can bounce back quickly from appendicitis while another might take several weeks. The bottom line is that appendicitis is not a flashpoint for a character discussion, it’s a surgical emergency.

    Let’s hope for a speedy recovery and a little BABIP boost for Heyward.

  26. Speaking of Fredi, Fat Juan can’t get no respect. He has a .921 OPS against RH pitching this season and Fredi has him batting 8th tonight behind Uggla (.488 OPS vs. RH) and BJ (.523 OPS vs. RH).

    WTF, Fredi? I mean why is Uggla even in the lineup? His OPS vs. righthanded pitching is .488! That is epic fail.

  27. @42 yes, they are 100% cotton.

    Jonah Keri just tweeted about them. I might die.

  28. Everything looks great, Bethany. Best of luck!
    (And I’ve always liked that Jonah Keri guy too.)

  29. On Heyward’s appendectomy-

    My wife, who albeit is not a professional athlete, had an emergency appendectomy back in college. Unfortunately for her she had the procedure *very* late into the game, so she was held up in a hospital for a week in case of bacterial infection. According to her, she didn’t feel truly comfortable walking around campus for two months.

    Yeah, she’s not Jason Heyward, but appendectomies are tricky. Sometimes they’re routine. Sometimes they’re really not, even if there aren’t any concerns from the procedure itself.

  30. I’m not worried that much about Heyward, but I want to see him put a full campaign together. I’m sold on his defense and his hustle, but I want him to produce solidly and consistently. He looks to have the talent to do far more than that.

  31. @50 Not Bethany, but kickstarter web site offers scorebooks and other goodies for donations. Check it out for various combinations. They will be printed when it is 100% subscribed I assume.

  32. Just stopped in to point out that last night, I was out drinking in DuPont Circle. We should coordinate better next time, Sam!

  33. @37 Okay, Bethany, if you can make the 3X happen, I’m in on the $50 level. Great work!

  34. A lesser player than Harper bounces the ball merely to the pitcher rather than over him on the way to the shortstop.

  35. I just want it to be noted that our RF has been far more exciting so far than their RF.

  36. Have the umps gotten a single bang-bang base play right in this series yet?

  37. Hyperbolically speaking, I am violently against dugout interviews while a game is in progress.

    Having said that, it’s kinda neat to see Mark Mulder interview Tim Hudson.

  38. Sooo close. Great play, Andrelton.

    PS: On that little squib to deep short by Span, Andrelton shows again his over-enthusiasm to try to make every single play. He should have stuck that in his pocket instead of throwing to second with absolutely no chance of beating the runner.

  39. Simmons is a magician. We are blessed to see him play every day, even if he does try to make every play.

  40. I couldn’t believe that Maholm could get a double. Evidently, neither could he.

  41. Nobody else could have held Maholm’s double to two hesitant bases like Harper.

  42. lol, of all the times Fredi has someone bunt he doesn’t in that situation? WTF.

  43. I thought the offense had to do something first before we called it Hibernation.

  44. It isn’t a stretch of my imagination to think I’ll never again see Uggla make contact with a baseball.

    Also, why doesn’t BJ choke up with two strikes? He’s got his hands wrapped tight down to the knob.

  45. Note 1 to all NL pitchers: Make sure you ask your managers to arrange a start for you to pitch against the Atlanta Braves if you need to build up your strikeout total.

    Note 2 to all NL pitchers: Please ask Fredi to keep BJ Upton, Uggla, and Francisco in the lineup. This will ensure you at least 10Ks.

  46. Hibernation Mode is when the Braves start out hot and then fall asleep. This is just getting their heads handed to them by a good pitcher who’s rocking them to sleep.

    Maholm’s performance today is nice, though, especially considering his shaky outing last time.

  47. Would be nice if the offence could show a little life now. Maholm has pitched a really good game.

  48. Dan Uggla could draw a walk. And Juan could go yard. Neither of these things is impossible.

  49. Goddamn, Bupkis is annoying when things aren’t working. When the offence scores 4-5 runs it’s so much easier to pretend he does something useful at the plate.

    It would be nice if he stopped swinging for the parking lot every time up and maybe tried to use his speed a bit.

  50. I wonder how low BUpton’s OPS will go. It’s under .500 now. He’s like the worst hitter I’ve ever seen.

  51. just got home. what happened to Harper? I assume that whatever it was, it would have killed a mere mortal.

  52. At least you may want to blame BJ’s struggle on new team, new league, etc….but Uggla really needs to start hitting. This is his third year with us…

  53. no doubt Chipper did it with considerably less national fanfare.

  54. 112 — It’s one of those that could be an oblique strain, trying to hold up a swing.

  55. BJ looks to have a serious hitch in his swing. I’m sure it’s always been there, but it seems to be costing him that nanosecond he could really use.

  56. How in the world does your best avg hitter not get an at bat in C Johnson ..when ya got FRancisco, Sruggla and BJ hittin .. sometimes Freddie reminds me of just how bad a mgr he can be …

  57. Give me a break. Dammit. What a tease! That was home run distance.

    @124: Agreed. And he was safe in the first. That blown call cost us our only potential runs…

  58. Oh well. There was one bad pitch thrown all night and it was our guy who threw it. These things happen. Great pitcher’s duel. And Harper was injured, so it wasn’t a total bust.

  59. Success saw 26 pitches in four appearances. Even if he didn’t get on base I thought he had a good game at the plate.

    Too bad they made so many other quick outs or they might have gotten to that juicy bullpen early enough to get a few runs.

  60. Yeah, other than Success we didn’t show a lot of patience at the plate, but Zimmerman looked really good.

  61. I wonder how we would do if one of us here started tonight’s game in place of Zimmerman.

  62. Hey, get ’em tomorrow & win the series.

    Then we get the Mets. BTW, pretty good mound matchup on Sunday: Harvey vs. Hudson.

  63. Hey guys, longtime lurker, first time poster. Anyone know of a good bar in DC to watch Braves games? Would love to catch some games this weekend with fellow Braves fans.

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