Braves 5, Nats 4

Oh Boy, I could rave on all night about this Braves team.  It’s so easy to cheer them on.  They’ve now won nine consecutive games overall, and 13 in a row at SunTrust Park (the franchise record).  The Eastern division pennant is in sight: Every day, it’s a getting’ closer, going faster than a roller coaster. Will the Nats catch the Braves at this point? That’ll be the day!

In each game of this series, the Nationals have hung in and chose not to fade away.  Well, all right; they made it interesting, but I guess it doesn’t matter anymore.*

The Braves defeated the Nats on Friday 5-4 for the third game in a row.  The lead is now 10, the magic number is 11, and the Braves have effectively won the division.

Saturday’s game followed the script of the first two games of the series.  And why not?  If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!  Terrific starting pitching, big hits including multiple homers, and a shaky bullpen that made it too close for comfort but held on for the win.

For the third straight game, the Braves got a terrific performance from their starting pitcher.  Julio Teheran went six, striking out 8 and walking only one.  He surrendered just three hits, with the only damage a solo homer by Cabrera.  His fastball command was especially impressive. Julio has quietly put together an excellent year. 

The Braves scored 5 runs, on a solo homer by Albies in the first, a solo shot by Donaldson in the 4th, and back to back jacks by McCann and Joyce in the 6th (BMac’s was two run shot).

 (How does Bethany feel about Josh Donaldson? Sometimes she’ll sigh, Sometimes she’ll cry, And we’ll know why.  That mulleted scamp is raining in her heart. )*

As in Thursday and Friday games, the bullpen was the only weak spot.  Darren O’Day (he really exists!) made his Braves debut in the 7th.  Unfortunately he walked the leadoff man.  To Snit’s credit he took him out in favor of Newcomb.  But Newk had no command of his fastball and walked the bases full with no outs.  He did get Zimmerman to ground into a double play, but after yet another walk, Josh Tomlin had to put out the fire and keep it a 5-2 game.

The bullpen drama continued in the 8th.  Shane Green had been near perfect for the past 3 weeks, and this night he wasn’t.  Still, after allowing two baserunners, he almost escaped unscathed. With two outs it appeared he had Soto struck out, on a foul tip into the mitt.  But when it didn’t stick, you just knew that Soto would make them pay, and he doubled in two runs.  (It looked like a ball that Hamilton, in for his defense, could have caught.  What was interesting about that is that both Joyce and Riley, not known for their defense, had made excellent plays to rob Nats of hits in earlier innings.)

Melancon had a clean and sharp ninth to close it out.

The Braves go for the sweep and the jugular on Sunday, in a matchup of once and future Cy Youngs, Soroka vs. Scherzer.

*The oldsters among you caught the references.  Charles Hardin “Buddy” Holly was born on this day in 1936, in Lubbock, Texas.  I spent 15 years of my life in Lubbock.  It was long after Buddy Holly’s all too brief life and career, but I knew people who had known him.  Holly died before his 23rd birthday, but his influence has been enormous.  The Beatles would not have been the Beatles (and would have named themselves something else) without Buddy Holly and the Crickets.

Most of you have never been to Lubbock; it’s in the middle of nowhere and not on the way to anywhere. But the musical talent that has sprung from that arid soil rivals any area in the United States:

Waylon Jennings (you all know Waylon, but did you know he was the bassist in Holly’s band at the time of his death?); Terry Allen (if you don’t know him you should–artist, poet, and songwriter extraodinaire); Sonny Curtis (member of the Crickets who wrote the Mary Tyler Moore show theme); Delbert McClinton (among many other accomplishments, taught John Lennon to play a blues harmonica); The Flatlanders (Joe Ely, Jimmy Dale Gilmore, and Butch Hancock, three terrific singers and songwriters); Mac Davis (who I never cared for but he did sing “Lubbock Texas in my Rear View Mirror); Glen D Hardin and Bobby Keys (two of the greatest session musician musicians of the rock era); Natalie Maines (lead singer of the Dixie Chicks); Amanda Shires (perhaps at the moment best known as the wife of Jason Isbell, but a terrific musician and singer herself).

The only locale than rivals Lubbock in terms of musical talent is where I’ve lived for the past 15 years: Macon, Georgia.  Little Richard and Otis Redding hailed from Macon, and James Brown lived and worked in Macon at the start of his career. The Allman Brothers Band lived and recorded all their classic music in Macon. One half of REM (Mike Mills and Bill Berry) grew up in Macon.  Lucinda Williams spend part of her childhood in Macon (and memorialized it in Car Wheels on a Gravel Road).   Many big hits in the 1970’s were recorded in Macon at Capricorn Studios (including by the Marshall Tucker Band, Wet Willie, Elvin Bishop, and Charlie Daniels). What does that have to do with the Braves?  Well, I did see Chipper play for the Macon Braves in 1991.

64 thoughts on “Braves 5, Nats 4”

  1. Waylon Jennings gave up his seat on Buddy Holly’s plane to the Big Bopper who wasn’t feeling well.

    Edit: Oh yeah. Go Braves!

  2. Darren O’Day has an ERA of infinity.

    I refuse to accept that he exists; he must be a glitch in the system.

    In the recap, I believe the HR allowed by Julio was to Cabrera, not Herrera; thanks for the quick recap, tfloyd.

  3. Just checked the standings. IF Atlanta goes 9-10 the rest of the way, to tie us, the Gnats would have to go 20-1.

  4. Going to the bottom of the 8th in LA. Giants lead 1-0. If they can hold on Braves would be only 2 back in the loss column to the Dodgers. This is getting interesting

  5. O’Day reminded me of Cecil Upshaw wearing contact lenses.

    And thanks for what I think was the first Delbert McClinton reference in the history of Braves Journal.

  6. tfloyd thanks for a great and quick write-up and history review. I have spent lots of time in and around Lubbock and lived twice just nw of there just a stones throw across the NM line. Will be in Lubbock again in December and have dinner planned with the actor Barry Corbin at some close mutual friends. There’s such a great music and artistic talent wellspring all over that part of Texas. Many more than you named even but you got many of the best.
    It’s really remarkable how good a year Teheran has had. Many of us wanted the team to trade him for whatever we could get for him this past off-season. Glad we didn’t.
    This team is good. It really feels like the 90s again. Go Braves.

  7. Rave on, tfloyd. For the record, my wife’s grandmother was a “Gilmore” from West Texas. Great recap.

    Story on our rotation for 2020 at TC is still talking about dumping Julio. I was for trading Julio for comparable value last winter. The conversation has changed. Julio has to be a lock for next year. He deserves it. He also deserves starts in the postseason. Good Julio is as good as Julio has ever been and Bad Julio only makes rare appearances.

    The worst thing about tonight was the epidemic of walks. We have worked so hard to climb out of the basement on walks and have done a really good job of it. Before tonight we were only like 25th in walks when we used to be 30th with a bullet. The first 8 games of this win streak were characterized by virtually no walks. I think it was a mistake to pull O’Day. After a couple of initial balls, he found the strike zone. There’s no reason to believe he would not have pulled it out. He sure wouldn’t have issued three more walks.

    Newk is still a lock for the postseason. Do we have any better lefties?? He does seem to have more off-nights than others, but he’s still good. They still can’t/couldn’t hit him. There were four walks in the 7th and the gNats still only scored one.

  8. @6 — this appears to have been the third Delbert McClinton reference in the last decade!

    Prior to this one, the most recent was actually none other than yourself, in this thread: https://bravesjournal.us/2019/04/10/braves-not-10-rockies-not-14/#comment-2282048. (The subject was a DOB tweet about defining one’s musical taste in seven artists.)

    Before that was response to a 2009 game thread in which Mac said that if Chipper were a band, he’d be the Kinks — “consistently really good, for a long time, and yet underappreciated.” Commenter Barrycuda replied, “in that case, i think hes Delbert McClinton.”

    https://bravesjournal.us/2009/06/17/young-master-francoeur-game-thread-june-17-braves-at-reds/#comment-231624

  9. A musical recap, full of history, many thanks.

    Walk on bye.

    Play of the game – Newk’s double play pitch. Without it we very likely lose.

  10. Plenty to rave about. This is coinciding with Donaldson’s continued hot streak and Acuna’s slump, but Donaldson is now at 4.7 fWAR right behind Acuna’s 5.0. Donaldson could pass Acuna. He’s well ahead of Freddie’s 4.0. Donaldson is also second on the team behind Freddie in wRC+. With Freddie ahead in wRC+, that shows you how much value Donaldson brings on offense. Donaldson’s 165 wRC+ in the second half blows everyone out. Donaldson’s 2.7 fWAR in the second half also blows out Acuna’s 1.7, Ozzie’s 1.6, and Freddie’s 1.3. Donaldson is far and away the second half team MVP.

    Fried, in one less start than Soroka, has a higher fWAR than Soroka in the second half. They would be fighting it out for second half MVP on the pitching side. But the pitching contribution has been stellar from them and Teheran: Fried has a 1.5 fWAR, Soroka 1.3, and Teheran not far behind at 1.2. Keuchel at 0.7.

    Fun fact: Chris Martin has the second-most reliever WAR in the second half.

    Not at all fun fact: Jackson, Newcomb, and Swarzak have combined for -1.1 fWAR in the second half.

  11. It will be interesting to see how deep in the game Scherzer is able to go. He’s only gone 6 innings once since his return from the IL.

  12. Meh, just get mike out of there and get him rest. make it a bullpen call ups game.
    Fat chance they get anything going against scherzer anyway.

  13. So, another start or two where Mike is giving up this many homers and he’s not my game 1 starter in the playoffs.

  14. Just got off the golf course. Apologies for being late. I see I have some work to do this afternoon….

    And AAR: No fair doing actual research….

  15. @27 I’d start Keuchel in game 1 if I were managing, just for the veteran presence. He’s been there and done it. I’d go Sororka in gm 2 and then base the rest off what the series score is.

  16. Just tuned in this inning after eating out after church. The 1st few innings look like Soroka was off his game. He looked mad and focused in the 4th. Hopefully he’ll put in 2 or 3 more strong innings and give us a shot. More importantly, boost his confidence going forward.

  17. Chip keeps droning on and on about how the Nationals would be so scary in a short series with their starting rotation. This is about the third time he and Tom Glavine are on this subject. I think we’d fare just fine.

  18. Genuinely wondering, with the players that may need Rule V protection this offseason, if Sobotka is a non-tender candidate.

  19. Trey Harris and Ian Anderson are minor league hitter and pitcher of the year. Harris had a 159 wRC+ across 3 levels. He looks like a legit prospect.

    I didn’t realize he hit the first home run in SunTrust Park history for Mizzou.

  20. Joyce has the 3rd highest OPS on the team at 896 in almost 200 plate appearances now. He’s been such a great end of spring training acquisition and has been solid all year but seems to be ending the season hot at the plate like he started. I don’t get to watch many games but I can’t tell that there is any defensive dropoff from Markakis to him, admittedly not a high bar. I’d much rather have his 100+ pts of OPS advantage over Nick in the playoff lineup. At least starting against rhp. But you just know if Nick is healthy that Snit will automatically pencil him in the lineup.

  21. This series is a microcosm of the flaws of run differential, because like the two teams’ current season run differentials, the Nationals are going to win it in this four-game set.

  22. There are certain outliers, but run differential still ends up being pretty accurate on the whole. For instance, the 1, 2, 3, 4 in run differential in the AL are 1, 2, 3, and 5 in league record. LA is tops in run differential in the AL, and they’re tops in record. Washington is second, then us, but Washington has a historically terrible bullpen, which seems to be the one thing that’ll really throw off run differential and therefore pythagorean record.

  23. This game seems like Glengarry Glen Ross for the back of the bullpen. Whomever pitches the best gets the steak knives. Everyone else gets cut.

    And so far… everyone gets cut.

  24. @36 Where are they though too after they had subtracted Albies and/or Riley in that same deal?

    I’m still glad they said no thank you to Miami and their ridiculous ask.

    McCann has been good, and will work well with Cervelli. Flow has fallen off a cliff, but there’s no real reason to play him now either.

  25. @53 Ruh-oh… That’s unfortunate.

    I’d imagine next year’s OF is Riley, Hamilton/Inciarte and Acuna from left to right?

  26. The tryouts are not going so well. None of Sobotka, Minter, or Walker looked great. Dayton was not so good in Gwinett’s playoffs. I am not convinced Minter couldn’t be OK. He threw strikes. Now he needs to get back getting his out pitches to work too. Walker was looking good but he must have tired or made some sort of mistakes after getting to about 30 pitches.

    These guys not doing so well opens the door to keeping Blevins, Swarzak, and/or Tomlin, And O’Day too.

    As I mentioned yesterday, we should have just forfeited this game and forgot about it.

  27. On the other hand, with three in the ninth, the five bullpen runs are what kept us from tying this game. And we squandered the 2nd and 3rd with one out opportunity earlier.

    Nevertheless, I support Snitker beginning the tryouts.

  28. @Rob
    It’s an option…and it ain’t gonna be picked up. They’ll be responsible for a 1MM buyout.

    Enjoyed the heck out of yesterday and love seeing Joyce earning more PT. I’d extend him at 2/8MM tomorrow.

  29. If the Braves need someone out of the pen to walk some guys, give up a bunch of homers, and occasionally maybe luck into an out through no ability of their own, I’ll work cheaper than Chad!

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