Nationals 13, Bad News Braves 4

ESPN Box Score

Following Tuesday night’s horrifics, a Skipism was fresh in my mind as today’s game started: “And like lambs to the slaughter, the Braves take the field.” You kind of get the feeling that the Braves may have woken a sleeping giant by allowing the Nationals to come all the way back last night, when they were mired in a 6-game skid and had been playing awful baseball. If the Nationals do catch fire and ride this tide to a World Series title, the Braves have no caps to tip but their own.

The game started off positively enough. Following Alex Wood’s 1-2-3 top of the 1st, the Braves offense picked up right where they left off last night. Nick Markakis singled, Freddie Freeman doubled, and AJ Pierzynski drove them both home with a bloop hit into centerfield. He then promptly forgot how many outs there were and got himself doubled off first following Chris Johnson’s flyout to center to end the inning, but he does have a 12-game hitting streak and has been one of the biggest surprises of the season.

Things started going downhill from there. Bryce Harper singled and came home on a base hit by Wilson Ramos in the 2nd for the Nationals first run. The Braves got that run back in the 3rd, when Andrelton Simmons tried to ground into a double play, but he ended up on second after Ryan Zimmerman could not handle Dan Uggla’s poor throw. Freeman continued his Gnats-mashing ways with an RBI single to push the lead to 3-1.

Then Alex Wood had a full-blown Episode. Harper doubled for his second hit of the night, and Zimmerman singled him home after Kelly Johnson dropped the ball for no apparent reason. The Nationals then loaded the bases with two outs to bring up Jordan Zimmermann, and Wood had a great chance to get out of it. Zimmermann, though, chimed in on the whole DH-to-the-NL debate in his own way, hitting a bases clearing double and putting his team up 5-3.

The Braves got one back in the 5th when Eric Young Jr. walked, and Phil Gosselin, pinch hitting for Wood, singled him to 3rd. Young came home on a Markakis double play, but the Braves would not get any closer.

In a rather surprising move, Trevor Cahill relieved Wood in the 6th to try to save an overworked bullpen. Cahill was scheduled to start on Friday, the same night Mike Foltynewicz is scheduled to pitch in Gwinnett, so let the speculation begin.

Cahill was Cahill, and gave up 4 runs in 2 innings. Dan Uggla picked up an RBI in the 6th with a groundout, and in the 7th Jayson Werth singled past a drawn-in infield to score Denard Span before Danny Espinoza got a bases-loaded single to push the Nationals lead to 9-4.

Michael Kohn pitched the 8th and John Cornely made his major league debut in the 9th, giving up an RBI single to Braves-killer Uggla and a 3-run homer to Span.

Twenty-one games into the season, the Braves have fallen under .500 for the first time. That is, quite honestly, much better than I would have predicted heading into the season.

Alex Wood looked like he righted the ship some with a perfect 5th inning to end his night, but the Braves pitching is concerning. Shelby Miller has looked pretty good, but Wood and Julio Teheran have not been themselves, and it’s nearly May and no Braves starter has completed the 7th inning. Hopefully the pitching will take off as the weather warms, but this season is proving that no matter how much gold Roger McDowell can spin out of straw, he still needs straw to start with in order to work his magic.

79 thoughts on “Nationals 13, Bad News Braves 4”

  1. Wood pitched into the 8th at Toronto, but your overall point of starters not eating innings stands.

  2. Helluva recap for a dogshit game. Thanks rissa

    holy cow what a stinker of a series. Shelby Miller looks like our only reliable pitcher. We’re gonna need reinforcements.

    But Geaux Hawks! And maybe the Falcons get someone good in the draft tomorrow eh?

  3. Bad starting pitching was not part of the deal, but pleasantly mediocre offense was also not part of said deal. I consider it a wash, and if things don’t change, we’re still that 70 win team we predicted at the beginning. Same destination, different route.

  4. I’m actually more optimistic about Wood after this start. Forget the results, look under the hood, and see that it’s a step in the right direction. I’d take this start with its one bad inning over a couple of the starts he had been pooping out previously.

  5. I’m sure there’s a John Hart quote out there somewhere about the fans embracing this new team of scrappy gamers. To that end — the Braves have had nine home games so far, against the Mets, Fish, and Nats. Two weekday series and one weekend series. Last year, the first nine home dates were against the Mets, Fish, and Nats, with two weekday series and one weekend series.

    2014 avg. attendance — 27205
    2015 avg. attendance — 22459

  6. @6
    Me too.

    I am also starting to worry that we may not have enough bats in the minor leagues that will allow us to compete in 2017. I assume we may flip some of these pitchers for hitters, but they have to pan out first.

  7. @10 Weird. I heard/read the bit recently about no starters completing the 7th, but when I read the first comment I then thought I too remembered the exception being Wood in his start in Toronto. Maybe that was because the rhetoric of that game was “he got into the seventh his last start, can he complete the inning this start?” The mediocrity of the last two weeks is starting to make everything run together in my mind.

    So Wood has pitched into the 7th twice, and Stults once. Today is the last day of April. That will tax even a good bullpen and begin to expose flaws. And the Braves do not have a good bullpen.

  8. 6—Been really hoping for that. Like, really-really. Hard to see shelling out the kind of money he’s going to command, though, and losing a pick, too. A good start would be having one of the 10 worst records in baseball, IMO, because losing a second-rounder would be a lot more palatable than losing a first-rounder.

    I know David would love to pitch (and hit!) in Atlanta, and the Braves could obviously use him, but I have trouble realistically envisioning it.

    (It’ll probably be moot soon enough, when the Tigers throw enough money at him to convince him to sign an extension.)

  9. @8, Do you know what the weather was for those games in 2014? Three of the games I have been to have had rain and at least one of them didn’t look like it was going to be played at all because of the rain. I’m not trying to make an excuse and my feel from the games so far this year is the fans are even more sedated than usual. I just think the rain might have had some small impact on attendance. It could be the current state of the Braves *plus* the weather make it less likely fans will attend… I see someone thinking “It’s going to be cold and rainy tonight and if the Braves were going to be awesome this year I would still go, but why would I want to get cold and wet to watch the Braves this year?”

  10. @14

    I agree the Tigers will lock him in. They almost have to do so.

    But if he decides to go exploring, I think we have a shot.

  11. Seeing a couple rumors that Folty could be making his debut on Friday. It’s Cahill’s spot and it’d be regular rest for him.

  12. @8
    The average attendance in April is almost always lower due to schools not being out. Also, April’s attendance is a bit skewed because OD weekend wasnt at Turner this year. The other factor, and likely most prominent, is the offseason trades of marketable players (Heyward, Gattis, Kimbrel). If the Braves continue to wet the bed and fight right around the .500 mark, attendance will tank, for sure. Only time will tell, but it doesn’t look good.

  13. Matt Lipka is raking in Mississippi.

    @18
    Once Cahill got in the game last night, it was only a formality.

    What does Williams Perez have to do to at least be in the pen?

  14. @20, Todd Cunningham is 14-30 in his last 30 AB. Not that such a performance could unseat the firmly entrenched EYJ from our 25-man, but it’s still quite a tear

    Dustin Peterson went 4-4 with 2 doubles and a HR for high-A Carolina last night, while teammate Andrew Thurman pitched 5 innings of scoreless ball

  15. @19

    “The average attendance in April is almost always lower due to schools not being out. Also, April’s attendance is a bit skewed because OD weekend wasnt at Turner this year.”

    Did you see that I explicitly compared apples to apples? First nine dates last year, first nine this year. Same opposing teams. Same times of the week. As for the weather last year, I don’t know. There’s been some rain this spring, but it hasn’t been cold. Opening day weekend was on the road last year, too.

  16. @29 I think the main question is whether the substantial difference is due to lack of star power or the radically different expectations for a rebuilding team coming off a 79-win season vs. a team on the rise coming off a 96-win season.

  17. Well, the other question, which I imagine we’ll never know the exact answer to, is what’s the attendance threshold we’ve got to stay above in order to avoid the payroll death spiral.

  18. If it’s not EYJ who gets sent down, then he definitely has The Pictures right? And who are the pictures of, at this point? Fredi? Hart?

    This should be an honorary position – the Keith Lockhart Chair of Inexplicable Playing Time, previously held by Jose Constanza and now Eric the Younger.

  19. “Keith Lockhart Chair of Inexplicable Playing Time” – LOL

    Can KJ really play SS? I guess in a pinch he could. Imagine how many runs it would cost per season to play him at SS instead of Andrelton. It boggles the mind.

  20. @Braves: Roster moves: #Braves option RHP John Cornely to @GwinnettBraves and have purchased the contract of LHP Donnie Veal from Gwinnett.

  21. In honor of Lil’ Jonny Schuerholz and Lil’ Tony Pena, I think it’s time we refer to him exclusively as Lil’ Eric Young, or LEY for short.

    Donnie Veal is a 30-year-old man who was drafted in the 2nd round in 2005, and who has pitched a grand total of 64 2/3 innings in his career. If he sticks on the major league roster, it says more about us than it says about him.

  22. @38
    They paid 6 million for Cahill. They won’t be giving up on him that quick. Well..I wouldn’t think they would.

    On Donnie Veal,
    He’s been walk heavy his entire career, but has good control this year. Still, be leary of his Gwinnett numbers.

  23. @40

    Then can he sign with the Mets and pitch a few complete games against us while we’re paying him $6 million?

  24. #40 – True, but there is basically a 0% chance of us picking up the $13M club option for 2016? If we are calling up Fulty, he’s out of the rotation and I doubt he’d be an effective reliever.

  25. In a season with almost-zero expectations, it’s hard to get too worked up about any of these short-term “solutions” like Trevor Cahill. But it’s also hard to pitch much worse than he has.

  26. Juan Jaime pitched like 2 innings. We got some guys way way ahead of him in the dollars-per-bad-inning metrics.

  27. I think we’re going to set a record for the amount of times the 7th reliever has been replaced. Sheesh.

  28. A little Andrelton might be rubbing off on Chris. That was really pretty.

    Shelby’s looking pretty sharp, too.

  29. Wow. Wasn’t expecting Shelby to get out of that one. I wonder if Andrelton’s reputation played a role in the Reds holding the runner.

  30. This game is proving that pace of game does not necessarily have a positive impact on the entertainment value.

  31. Yep. This may quiet down the talk of the NL adopting the DH, so at least Shelby’s accomplishing something.

  32. Our power died at 0-0. We just got it back. You guys didn’t hold them, but I still love you.

  33. Our bad, coop. You just can’t trust us with anything anymore. As penance, we’ll just have to rally the guys to score 5 runs in the ninth, off of Aroldis Chapman.

  34. Reds are playing this game all wrong. Four solo homers? They’re going to end up at the bottom of the NL central if they keep playing this way…

  35. The Braves have occasionally called him that. They did have the Simba cam last season (hope they’re still doing that this season, that was awesome!) and they were all over that MLB Fan Cave photo of Simmons holding the picture of Simba and Mufasa with the words “everything the sun touches, that’s your range at shortstop, Simba.”

  36. Fredi: “It’s not a one-deal tryout. I’m excited, and [Folty has] earned it.”

  37. I’d like to see the Braves use the strategy that they’re taking with the bullpen for 3b and OF. Phil Gosselin is rotting on the bench because he’s just not very good, but he’s “likable”. Call up a few of the Minor League vets that won’t hurt to lose and let’s see if they have anything.

    Adonis Garcia, Joe Benson, and Cedric Hunter are the guys that could be flashes in the pan.

  38. Ryan, didn’t you see @52 and @53? We’ve already got an Adonis in the big leagues.

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