Sharks 3 Seals 2

“We play the Braves nine (more) games. This s*** ain’t over.” –Bryce Harper

Hey Bryce, it’s Shark Week and you’re going to need a bigger boat.

Stephen Strasburg took the mound for the Natspos for a must win game and looked sharp. On the other side, Mike Minor clearly didn’t have his best stuff. Early on it looked like it could be a long night.

The Natspos got on the board first when Adam LaRoche singled in Ian Desmond. Wilson Ramos tired to score, but Andrelton Simmons had the baseball within 180 feet of home plate. Yeah, that didn’t work out so well for Desmond. He looked like the Snuffy the dehydrated seal from the commercials.

In the third Freddie Freeman singled in Jason Heyward to tie the game. In the fifth he drove in Justin Upton to put the Braves up. I think it is time to start discussing Freeman as a MVP candidate.

After the Natspos tied it up in the sixth, they looked to be poised to take the lead in the bottom of the seventh with a leadoff double. That’s when David Carpenter won the game. Carpenter was fantastic and stranded the runner at second.

In the top of the eighth April Justin Upton hit a rope over the left field wall. The Natsops threatened in the ninth, but Jordan Walden (spelling Craig Kimbrel) wiggled out of it.

It’s too early to say, “It’s over.” But I would have to think tonight’s win is a big nail in the coffin.

The Braves now have the most wins in the NL. They have won 11 in a row. The lead is 13.5. They are playing their best baseball in ten years.

Oh, and it’s Shark Week.

169 thoughts on “Sharks 3 Seals 2”

  1. Pirates’ .604 winning percentage technically beats ours (.602). But why pick nits? For the last week and a half, we’ve been as good as or better than anybody.

    EDIT: Where are my manners? Great recap!

  2. Well, I guess we have our winning road trip.

    Heard the entire bottom of the 9th in a taxi from LIC to the West Village. After the wild pitch put the runner on 3rd with one out, I was really sweating it out. But with the game-ending pop up, I let out a YES! — which was punctuated by a punch into the back of the front seat, to which the cabbie said, “What’s going on? Are you OK?”

    The answer: Oh, yes.

  3. Nice work, smitty…. and my statistical post about home/road splits (scheduled for Thursday) is evaporating before my eyes, but trust me… that’s a good thing.

    @4,5: Thanks. My favorite part of that one was the ability to leave 4 lines completely untouched.

  4. I really miss being able to read the postgame quotes on AJC’s website, and I’ve found that since they’ve hidden it behind a paywall, I just don’t visit their site anymore.

  5. #9 – I just watch Braes live after the game. It’s sad that AJC thinks that you should have to pay for to read those quotes. That irritates me.

    Carpenter bailed out Fredi last night. Fredi let Minor hit in the bottom of the 6th and only allowed him to throw one pitch in the top of the 7th. If you are that close to pulling your starter then don’t let him hit.

  6. Can we still say “tits”?

    Bethany, that’s similar to my experience. That’s just such a tough business model to try to perfect. I don’t think the paywall approach is ever going to work (could be wrong).

    I think I’d go all in on advertising and ad tie-ins. In fact, instead of charging people, I think I’d make it a place where you earn rewards for visiting tied to promotions found in the newspaper itself.

    Otherwise, newspapers may disappear in our lifetime. Heck, I’m down to receiving only the Sunday AJC and I’m an old paperboy with a Journalism degree.

  7. So is Braves Journal going to stay on the “.us” site, or is there a move back to “.com” in the works?

  8. @9 – I’m not paying for an “independent” news source to tell me how excited I should be about Scott Thorman.

    The Braves should be paying him to tell me that stuff.

  9. I couldn’t tell you the last time I went to the AJC for any coverage of anything, besides local breaking news. is (duh) a really good place for the top stories, and I really can’t imagine why I’d be interested in Jeff Schultz’ et al opinion on anything. The beat writer, as has been discussed ad infinitum, is useless.

  10. @12, agree. Carpenter has been astonishingly good.

    @13, the move back to .com is in the works. It’s just a slow, arduous process of trying to convince GoDaddy to transfer legal ownership of .com to us. I’ll share news as I get it.

  11. @14

    No kidding. I use to like DOB. Then the whole Griffey thing blew up in his face. Since then, he has become Fan Boy.

    I feel like when I read him, I am getting the point of view from my self when I was 12.

    “Otis Nixon is the best CF in baseball!”

  12. The AJC sports page is worthless. At least Schultz and Bradley used to troll up some web hits now and then, but with the paywall, that’s all gone. No one’s paying for that nonsense.

  13. I used to admire how the Padres can keep developing bullpen arms out of nowhere. Now it seems like the Braves are learning the tricks. I don’t think anyone can dispute the fact that Wren is better in building and developing a bullpen than JS ever was.

    Also, don’t forget about the Walden trade.

  14. One thing worth noting is that the recent trip has taxed the ‘pen somewhat. Wood is going 6 per lately, but no one has really been going 8, and the close-ish games means the back end especially is getting a lot of run. With a 13.5 game lead, I’d like to see more Ayala and Varvaro going forward. Never throw Kimbrel in 3 straight or 4 of 5, etc.

    Or maybe not even that restrictive. I just don’t want any of these guys wearing out in September. Dunno how many more bullpen rabbits the Braves have to pull out of their hat.

    Also, not to jinx anything, but BJ hasn’t been catastrophically horrible since coming back.

  15. For baseball news, I go to Might as well get the spin directly from the source. Then wash it out through various analysis sites and such.

    For football, I go to Again, why bother with the mediation at all? I don’t need O. Ledbetter to tell me who has a bad knee in camp. I can get that from the league site.

    For basketball, I go to PeachtreeHoops.

    For any other sports coverage I go to or NBC’s HardballTalk blog. Mostly because I want to support bloggers that I know at least peripherally.

  16. @24

    As I said the other night, a potential downside of never losing is that your bullpen gets trashed. However, a bigger part of the problem is that we haven’t had a day off since the All-Star break. That changes starting this week. We have only two weeks left in the season without a day off, including this one. Both of those weeks come in September when we’ll have use of the 40-man roster and one of them is the last week of the season, and it’s questionable how much those games will mean.

    Also, though I might have gone about it a little differently (read: I’d have sat Kimbrel Sunday night so I could pitch him last night), Fredi’s done a pretty good job of rotating usage of the bullpen during this three-week period. Nobody’s pitched more than three days in a row, that I can remember, and he’s been alternating days on the lefty-righty brigade pretty well.

  17. @24 and 27

    I wouldn’t even mind a six man roation in September. Maybe at least a couple of turn through the roataion wouldn’t be a bad idea.

  18. Fredi has made very few questionable bullpen decisions lately (and note: questionable != wrong). The two exceptions are Sunday night, when bringing in Kimbrel was really hard to justify beyond a stat-based desire to give Kimbrel an Official Save and the decision to let the Houdini-like Minor bat in the 7th last night, which was of course partly caused by the Kimbrel decision on Sunday.

    Of course, it’s pretty hard to make bullpen errors when your bullpen almost never gives up a run, but to give Fredi credit, that may be partly his doing.

  19. Fredi tends to default to the “get the win I can see” management strategy for closing games/using Kimbrel. If he has a save opportunity, even a weak 3-run save opp, he’s going to run his closer out there. There are good arguments against that, certainly, but Fredi has a notable tendency to look for the win in front of him and let tomorrow take care of itself.

  20. Alex, thanks again for pointing me here. I was in withdrawal. I have been catching up. Sam, the comment about Kruk, his outrage, and cancer cracked me up.

    Wren should be MLB exec of the year.

  21. Fredi tends to default to the “get the win I can see” management strategy for closing games/using Kimbrel. If he has a save opportunity, even a weak 3-run save opp, he’s going to run his closer out there. There are good arguments against that, certainly, but Fredi has a notable tendency to look for the win in front of him and let tomorrow take care of itself.

    I’m sympathetic to this argument, and don’t really have a problem with his usage of Kimbrel in general, but you also have argued in the (recent) past that Fredi’s job is to manage for a 162-game season, not just on that night – often in opposition to those saying he should have gone to the pen earlier, etc., such as when he didn’t lift Beachy last weekend. And more germane to last night’s game: the “get the win I can see” strategy would have led him to pinch hit for Minor in the top if the 7th, and certainly not let him face platoon specialist Scott Hairston in the bottom of the 7th.

  22. Well, I’m neither defending or attacking the tendency, just noting that it’s there. Fredi has another tendency to go with his starter until his hand is forced. That’s a page straight out of Bobby Cox’s managerial book. He doesn’t PH for the starter with a lead (unless there are runners in scoring position I suspect.) He doesn’t pull his starters for offense. He only pulls his starters when they get into trouble (in the middle to late innings.)

    That’s a people management decision, I think. That’s defaulting to your starting pitcher’s desire to win and telling him “as long as you’re doing your job and the game is not totally on the line otherwise, I’m not pulling you just for one pinch hit at bat.” I know many disagree with that, and I don’t feel like arguing it one way or another, but I think that’s his approach to when and where to pull starters. He’ll never pull a starter just to PH for him, unless that PH comes with runners on base in later innings. Otherwise, he’ll send his starter back out and only pull him when he *ceases to do his job* (which is to retire batters, not get hits.)

  23. @34

    I agree. I think he is also trying to get his starters to go deeper and save the pen some.

  24. If your closer is available and there is a chance to close, Fredi uses him. I think the players prefer to be managed like this. It made Kimbrel unavailable last night, but Fredi gets the win in hand, order is maintained, players understand and approve. Not saying its the best or most optimal way to do it, but there is more to the manager’s job than the tactical, and maintaining order and harmony is a strong point of this style.

  25. Agreed @36. Craig Kimbrel believes he has earned the right to close every game he has an opportunity to save. He also knows full well that his next paycheck, rightly or wrongly, is going to be driven by the number of “saves” in his yearly totals. It’s one thing for a team/manager to say “we’re not going to pitch you four days in a row outside of do or die emergency, because we want you healthy for a long career.” It’s completely different to say “yeah, we know we’re costing you a few million per year on your next contract, but we really don’t like the way they assign ‘saves’ as a stat and we’re only going to use you if it’s a save we think is worth your while.”

  26. Not that outcome-based decision making is a good idea, but we should of course remember that it worked fine and Walden got the save. I still would rather Kimbrel not go 3 in a row often, but this one definitely worked out and the Braves won both games.

  27. Using Kimbrel on Sunday night was perfectly understandable, for exactly the reasons you give, Sam. And you know I don’t buy into the “they’re chess pieces, not people” theory of managing. But there are plenty of institutional ways to keep Kimbrel (and starters) happy without risking wins.

    I’m just happy it seems to have worked out OK this time. But that’s the naive empiricism that lets it happen another 20 times.

  28. @30, @34, and @36: I agree. I think he does this, and I don’t have a particular problem with that general management style.

    But in a short series, he needs to be willing to change his style. Bobby wasn’t always able to do that.

  29. Well, last year he had a really short series: 1 game. Hopefully his short series are now longer than that.

  30. Just to clarify my point, I’m generally OK with running Kimbrel out there for a three-run save. And if our lead Sunday night had been either one or two runs, I’d have favored running him out there to ensure the win. But for just this one instance, with an important series in Washington coming up, and with a three-run lead against a thoroughly impotent team, I’d have sent Varvaro out there to see if I could get through the game without using Kimbrel, making him available for Monday night (last night). I wouldn’t have given Kimbrel the full night off no matter what, like he wound up with last night. If Varvaro had allowed two baserunners, I’d have brought Kimbrel in, anyway. Also, if we’re up by three tonight entering the ninth, I’ll favor using Kimbrel. It was just for that specific situation where I thought it would be best not to. I perfectly understand all that stuff about saves and contracts and what have you, and I wouldn’t make a habit of refusing to use Kimbrel for three-run saves just because.

  31. The editing shut down before I could add this point, but I also highly doubt Kimbrel would’ve had a problem with it if it were explained to him in these terms. After all, he’d have gotten his save opportunity back last night, so it all comes out in the wash.

  32. I kind of like that he didn’t want to use Kimbrel last night. It’s like saying to Washington that we don’t even think they are a fly on the wall.

  33. @43, but you have no way of knowing on Sunday that there will be another opp on Monday.

  34. In Sunday night’s win, the Braves already knew Washington had lost in the earlier game. So a win/save there is a full game, exactly the same value as a win against Washington last night. The marginal value play is to take the win you have and accept that you might give it back Monday (but of course, they did not.)

  35. Not to belabor the point, but the marginal value was a half-game, whether Washington had previously won OR lost. The game meant a half-game difference. (OK… I’m belaboring the point. I admit it.)

  36. Yeah, for it to mean a full game, our giving up the lead would have to mean Washington’s loss would be magically switched to a win.

  37. Fair; my point is that going into the 9th of Sunday night you knew – absolutely knew – a win put you another half game ahead of the Nats, who had already lost. So you close out that win and the day is worth full game to you, which is exactly what a game against the Nats is potentially worth.

  38. Yes, but as we are the team that’s ahead, a win over Washington directly means twice as much as a win over anyone else, as there’s days off the calendar to consider. To wit, a win over Philly after Washington had already lost (which happened before our game even started) reduced our magic number by one. A win over Washington reduced it by two. Or another way to look at it: a win vs. a loss in Philly is a one game swing – 12.5 games up if we win, 11.5 if we lose. It’s a two-game swing against Washington – 13.5 if we win, 11.5 if we lose.

    EDIT: I do feel at this point that I should point out that I’m nowhere near still bemused by this. It all worked out, and even if it hadn’t, it’s not like an 11.5-game lead would’ve been the end of the world. I’m merely engaging in a converstation of hypotheticals here.

  39. I really would like to see Gio Gonzalez bashed about the face and shoulders again tonight. I just don’t like that guy.

  40. @54 – I mean, yeah, technically. But “firing” is kind of a technicality when he’s been drawn and quartered.

  41. Lineup:

    1. Heyward RF
    2. J Upton LF
    3. Freeman 1B
    4. McCann C
    5. C. Johnson 3B
    6. Uggla 2B
    7. B. Upton CF
    8. Simmons SS
    9. Teheran P

  42. Btw, did anyone notice that Simmons came in and covered home plate last night on Hairstons pop up that Bmac caught at the screen for the 2nd out? The kid might be one of the smartest defensive players I’ve ever seen.

  43. @59 Sad to say I missed that despite being at the game (I was too busy being amazed that the ball came back into play and that McCann caught it). Bowman also mentioned it, though. I can’t personally remember seeing so polished a defensive player at his age.

  44. While Andrelton could credibly claim to be “The Reason For The Season”, the existing videos are just terrible.

  45. Something tells me he wouldn’t want the nickname “The Reason” if somehow this team, let’s say, horribly tanks next year. Or if he’s responsible for a game-losing defensive miscue that loses the World Series. The nickname giveth, and it can taketh away.

    That said, ever since my Strat-O-Matic days, I’ve always felt having a 1-rated shortstop with a low E rating is a team’s #1 priority!

  46. Well, Heyward is about to miss a month. Scratch that, he’s going to play through a sore neck.

  47. Heyward: 2 syllables, starts with “H”, has an “R” sound towards the end.

    Just like Horner.

  48. It is a bit interesting that Gattis wasn’t in the lineup against the lefty to begin with. He’s 3 for 8 with a walk against Gia.

  49. The hitters are too aggressive tonight and are letting Gio off with 1 and 2 pitch at bats. We need to get into their pen and that isn’t going to happen with 10 pitch innings

  50. Bryce Harper seems to have no instincts playing outfield. Reminds me of Francoeur. Has the arm, but that’s it.

  51. Got back and turned the TV on just in time to see the recap of the Heyward injury. Hopefully it’s a day-to-day injury. That way, we might get him back in time for the playoffs.

  52. Frenchy is so slow that the ball bounces off the wall before he has too much time to get out of position though, so his routes don’t look as adventurous.

  53. TV just announced Heyward has a muscle strain in his neck. I’m just calling him Nick Johnson from here on out.

  54. So the MLB network with the Bryce Harper show tonight. Big defensive play because he can’t get a read on the ball, a home run and he shaved. Play # 1, 2 and 3 on the top 10

  55. @79

    Living in Atlanta, I’m blacked out of the MLB Network broadcast, but I’m curious. Is Smoltz still predicting that the Nats blow past us? It’s still mathematically possible! Clearly, he shouldn’t give up now!

  56. @80 ha ha…not so much. Living in Michigan, I am stuck with Nats announcers on the Extra Inning package or the MLB guys

  57. 3 hitters with 2-0 counts and all 3 took poor swings on the 3rd pitch. Almost like they made up their mind to swing before the pitch was thrown. Not great plate discipline tonight, despite the low K numbers

  58. @83

    He somehow strained his neck swinging at a pitch. He’s week-to-wee…I mean, day-to-day.

  59. We might have a new nickname for Julio Teheran: Pedro.

    I was an APBA guy. That game’s defensive ratings for shortstops went from 6 to 10. IIRC, the only shortstops that scored 10 ratings (in certain years) were Ozzie Smith, Mark Belanger & Larry Bowa. I’d imagine that this year Andrelton would rank 10, too.

  60. Yeah, that’s it Nats! You really got fired up there! Time to stick it to those mean ol’ Braves!

    Seriously, what a pathetic douche Bryce Harper is!

  61. @92 absolutely, especially as pinpoint as Julio has been. Harper is such a douche, but what a warrior to be able to continue on in the game. Ass clown…..

  62. I was thinking it might be a good time to intentionally walk a guy. And if that guy is Bryce Harper, why not save time and effort and just hit him?

  63. That was totally intentional, guys. Best hitter. Open base. Glory-hounded a HR last at bat. Freeman already hit tonight. Absolutely intentional. No doubt. Why do you think Mac was so keen to mix it up with Harper as he jawed his way down the line?

    Also, Regression looks particularly BABIP unlucky tonight.

  64. I’m pretty certain he intentionally beaned him, you’re generally not going to throw low and inside to a lefty power hitter.

    And I’m perfectly fine with that.

  65. I’m not watching the game, just monitoring on ESPN Gamecast. Good to know my instincts in this regard are working! :)

  66. @97 – McCann would have been all too willing to jaw it up with anyone who say anything about one of his pitchers. McCann’s feisty.

  67. Wish I was watching this game. Ugh. It’s on MLB TV but my curse continues: apparently it’s not one of the 5000 channels on my girlfriend’s cable system.

  68. The Twitter exchange between these clubs is getting funny.

    The Braves wrote:
    Clown move bro

    The Nationals responded:
    Which part, giving up the home run, or drilling the 20-year-old on the first pitch his next time up?

  69. “drilling the 20-year-old ”

    Why do they play up his age? Like he’s a small, precious child that’s being bullied? P’shaw.

  70. Just because Bryce Harper is in the other lineup does not mean we need to lapse into clown baseball, gentlemen.

  71. Let your glove fly like a bird on a wing
    And let your glove bind you to all grounded things
    And let your glove shine, and you’ll know what I mean
    That’s the reason.

  72. An 11-game winning streak doesn’t make these miscue-riddled innings any easier to digest.

  73. Is there some reason we’re not going to Ayala to face Werth here?

    EDIT: Well, at least Avilan is now facing LaRoche. He’d better throw strikes.

  74. It looks like the streak is still alive of the bullpen not giving up any runs to these guys this year.

  75. We call him “Air” Jordan because that’s all the Nats seem to hit when they face him. Dude’s bringing it.

  76. When I see Ian Krol’s name, it makes me think the semi-legendary Patti Smith Group/Iggy Pop bassist is taking the mound.

  77. Anthony Schreiber’s latest dispatch is about the Braves running a clean, PED-free franchise, and it includes a sentence that leads with this startling statement of fact:

    “After Major League Baseball thrust the first nail into the career coffin of A-Rod with a 211-game ban that will keep the slugger off the diamond until the 2015 season… ”

    That will come as a shock to the White Sox fans booing him at this very minute.

  78. Sweet! Sit down, Bryce. See ya tomorrow.

    Is 12 games the longest streak of the season in MLB?

  79. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say this series isn’t going particularly well for the Nationals.

  80. Just saw the replay of the near brawl. I thought it hilarious that Heyward was out in the front of the line sticking his chest out to Harper. Reminded me of the time Horner came running out onto the field with his arm in a cast.

  81. I’ve been more excited to read the postgame quotes for this series than I’ve been to watch the actual games.

  82. It pains me to say this, but I appreciate Bryce’s passion and competitiveness. He’s pissed off his team isn’t playing with passion, and I’d love to have that guy roaming center field for us instead of BJ. Admit it; you do too. :)

  83. @147

    Bryce Harper is a self-important douche who threw every single person in his clubhouse, including his manager, under the bus with what he said a week or so ago. Let’s not pretend anybody on that team gives a rat’s ass what the whiny 20-year-old baby thinks about whether or not they are giving full effort.

  84. So, I’m not good at math, but if my calculations are correct, if the Braves play 500 ball the rest of the way, the Nats would have to go 39 and 9 just to tie.
    Is that even feasible? Has anyone ever come back from that far down this late in the season?

  85. Braves win twelve in a row, extend biggest division lead, but of course the story is that MLB’s mascot got a boo-boo and was upset.

  86. Well, they are just trying to save some of their pride. I don’t think anyone of us would have thought they would be 15 games back and below .500 at this point of the season. Nobody likes to lose.

  87. It is a little scary because the Nats may act out of frustration tomorrow, and one of our players could end up injured. The last thing we need right now is for Simmons to take one in the face.

  88. #153

    That won’t happen. Harper’s teammates know he had no business admiring his home run. They don’t want to look like sore losers.

  89. I would say that we could start some of our bench guys, but I want to bury Washington. 15.5 sounds a lot better than 13.5

  90. @150: I always like to think of it in these terms: if the Braves play .500 ball the next 30 games, the Nats would have to pull off a 30-game winning streak to catch them. We know the Braves can play .500 ball. I’m pretty sure the Nats can’t pull off 30-0 or 39-9.

  91. This really captures the beauty of the American spirit.

    “Ties, and no playoffs, why do you even do this?”

  92. “I mean, when you lose a ballgame, it’s always frustrating,” Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper said. “The Braves are a great team and they’ve been playing great right now.”


  93. My favorite part of the game was Walden and Kimbrel eliciting 6 consecutive u-turns in the 8th and 9th innings.

    One run game, you’re so close, all you need is a baserunner and some luck. And 6 straight guys can’t put the ball in play.

    How can you not love that?

  94. Since Harper grew his beard, he bears a pretty fair resemblance to Mr. Walcott from the Deadwood series. I am therefore forced to believe that he kills prostitutes, no matter how many nice things y’all say about him.

  95. When did we move? I must’ve missed the memo.

    Fingers crossed BJ’s figuring things out now. We’ll need him in October.

  96. What a glorious, wonderful game. I watched the recap this morning, and I was impressed with how long Harper took rounding the bases after his HR. Longest trot I’ve seen in AGES. Glad he got plunked, glad he struck out to end it. What a tool.

  97. When asked about whether he thought about charging the mound, Harper said, “Nah, I wasn’t going to go out there. I mean, 14 1/2 games down, and I need to be in the lineup.”


  98. From @RealCJ10’s Twitter feed:

    “No more twitter for me. Said I’d do it for one year and the time is up. Too much hate and too many trolls. Much love to Braves country! Xo”

    If it were me and I knew that I was going to shut it down like that, I probably wouldn’t have said, “Hey to all of my followers on Twitter out there” during my number retirement speech.

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