The Braves started 5-0 at Turner Field twenty years ago, but only 4-0 at SunTrust this year. This proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Turner Field was clearly the superior ballpark of the two. Now we know.
The Nationals rolled into town and looked at the Braves’ modest winning streak, laughed, scoffed and said, “that’s cute; why don’t you try playing ball with the big boys?” The Braves tried, and failed. Ah, San Diego, when can we see you again?
Mike Foltynewicz drew the short straw and had to pitch against Max Scherzer, admittedly a hard assignment on the best of days. Folty actually pitched pretty well, faltering only in the 5th when he gave up three hits and a walk, good for two Nationals runs. Over the rest of the seven innings he pitched, he scattered only two hits and three walks, and looked pretty dominant out there. If that Folty can show up more often than not, he’ll be fun to watch for years to come.
Eric O’Flaherty relieved him in the 8th, and he gave up two doubles and a run in 2/3 of an inning before Luke Jackson came on to finish the inning. Jackson then pitched the 9th in perfect fashion to hold the Nationals to only three runs on the evening, a feat that is to be lauded.
The problem lay not with the Atlanta pitching, then, but with the offense having to face Mad Max. They could do pretty much nothing against him over his seven innings, scraping together only two hits and striking out seven times. They finally broke through against the Nationals bullpen in the 9th, when Freddie Freeman and Brandon Phillips collected singles off of Blake Treinen and Tyler Flowers walked to load the bases. A walk to Kurt Suzuki forced the lone Braves run in, before Shawn Kelley entered the fray and quickly got the final two outs to end the threat and the game.
And that was that, a 3-1 loss against the Nationals at home against their ace. It could have been much worse, and the Braves would have been hard pressed to make it much better. Toss that one in the loss column and hope for a better result tonight as Julio Teheran faces off against Joe Ross in his season debut. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then, so it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that the Braves can win a few against Washington this year.
Nationals delenda est.