I didn’t watch this one, but the recap is pretty simple: in the first inning, Evan Gattis and Chris Johnson went back-to-back with a three-run homer and a solo shot, and the Braves spent the rest of the game hanging on for dear life. Then the Kraken came in and it was over.
Aaron Harang’s got a bit more smoke and mirrors left, but he’s relying more on trickery than ever. When this is going well, the announcers call it “guile”; when it isn’t going well, they call it dead meat.
Just for comparison, in Harang’s first six starts, he threw a 2.97 ERA over 36 1/3 innings and struck out 37 men while walking 14 — that included a preposterous 11-strikeout night against Miami on April 23. But he’s walked more men than he’s struck out in each of his most recent three starts; over those starts, he’s managed a 2.89 ERA in 18 2/3 innings with just eight strikeouts against 13 walks. One of those things is bound to change: either he’ll start striking out a whole lot more men than he walks, or he’ll start giving up runs in bunches again.
Anyhow, the Upton brothers went 0-8 with no walks, and The Offense went 0-2 with two walks. As many have noted, Freeman has really cooled down: after batting .320/.395/.570 in April, he’s hitting just .242/.351/.416 since May 1. That’s better than B.J., obviously, but it isn’t great for a slow-footed first baseman. In short, the Offense is a microcosm for the offense: if Freddie isn’t hitting, the rest of his teammates aren’t hitting much either.
Except, of course, for Gattis. The White Bear now has 14 homers, and is tied with Justin Upton for third in the NL in that mark. He’s striking out four times as many times as he’s walking, but — unlike Jason Heyward and Andrelton Simmons — when he makes contact with the ball, he cranks it.
Thanks to the Braves’ one-run win and the Nats’ one-run loss, we’re in a dead heat for the division lead once more, and both of us are four wins above .500. Neither of us has played particularly well to this point. It’s time to show what we’re made of.