Braves 8, Nationals 4

This can’t be Wright.

Kyle Wright outbattled Max Scherzer as the Braves take the series 3 games to 1, and drop the Nationals to 17 – 28. The Braves move to 28 – 19 and take a 3.5 game lead in the NL East over the Marlins, who swept the Phillies in a doubleheader.

The Braves suckered Scherzer into throwing 104 pitches through 5 innings, in part by striking out 10 times. Scherzer showed signs of cracking after Travis d’Arnaud flied out to the right field wall to end the 5th, and after Dansby Swanson was robbed at the left field wall by Juan Soto to lead off the 6th, the floodgates finally opened. Nick Markakis singled and Adam Duvall homered to tie the game at 4; Austin Riley and Ozzie Albies duplicated the feat to put the Braves ahead for good.

Wright went 6 innings, allowing 8 hits and 4 runs (3 earned,) while walking only 2 and striking out 4, and picked up his 1st major league win in 8 decisions. Let’s not kid ourselves about Wright; you are what your line says you are and Kyle was far from great. But he did have a bit of bad luck, with a broken bat single and a couple of bunt hits among the total. For someone coming in with an ERA north of 8, a WHIP over 2, and almost a walk per inning, let’s instead use the word “encouraging.”

Doubles by Freddie Freeman and d’Arnaud in the top of the 1st gave the Braves a 1 – 0 lead, but Asdrubal Cabrera homered in the 2nd to tie it. Markakis drove in d’Arnaud with the 2nd run in the 4th. The Nationals tied the game in the 4th when Soto doubled, took 3rd on a Cabrera fly out, and outran an Albies throw home on an Eric Thames grounder, despite the infield playing in. Wright then caught a break when a backpedaling Freddie could not corral a bloop pop up, but was able to force Thames at 2nd and see Kurt Suzuki caught attempting to advance to 3rd to complete an unusual double play.

Wright’s luck changed for the worse in the 5th when a Victor Robles broken bat single and an Adam Eaton bunt single followed a Luis Garcia leadoff single. Wright then coaxed a double play ball, but Freeman botched Albies’ wide throw down the base line and the ball kicked into the dugout, allowing a 2nd run to score in addition to the conceded one. However, Wright continued to battle, and earned a 6th inning by inducing another double play ball, this time successful.

The Braves parlayed a couple of walks into 2 more runs in the 9th, costing Chris Martin and his perfect inning a save. Tyler Matzek, Darren O’Day and A.J. Minter were the bridge to the 9th.

The Braves have completed 78% of their season. At Baltimore Monday; Touki Toussaint and Jorge Lopez scheduled.

Author: Rusty S.

Rusty S. is a Braves Journal reader since 2005 and an occasional innings-eater. It was my understanding that there would be no expectations.

19 thoughts on “Braves 8, Nationals 4”

  1. And it sure seemed like the pair of 2-run HRs in the 6th from Duval & Albies happened about 2 minutes apart.

    With a lineup this deep — the winning hits came from 7 & 9 spots in the order — this can be an amazingly quick-strike offense.

  2. Y’all remember how Javy Lopez used to just crush hanging breaking balls? He hammered that mistake every time. Riley kinda reminds me of that. A good breaker can make him look foolish, but gawdalmightydamn don’t hang one to him.

  3. Well, the Braves have scored 279 runs this season, which is more than any other team in the majors.

    Their bullpen is solid.

    Starting rotation is pretty awful and it’s a shame its GM face-planted at the trading deadline.

  4. @3 – I can’t call the lack of moves at the trade deadline a face plant. If AA would have traded a top 10 prospect for Milone or overpaid for someone who would have brought negative value, that would have been a face plant. I don’t think the deals were there. Don’t get me wrong, there appears to be very little to like about the Milone deal, but that seems to have been inconsequential. Beyond that, making a deal for the sake of making a deal could have been a huge mistake.

  5. I think a lot depends on Cole Hamels now. If he’s competent, or looks that way (it will be hard to know for sure in only 2-3 starts), then we could get by in the playoffs with a rotation of Fried, Hamels and Anderson. I can see us winning a series with that group.

  6. @6
    The Padres also traded 13 players and outside of Clevinger, didn’t get much control. I’m all for trades that build a better MLB team but I’m glad AA sees the long term benefit of not trading depth. Don’t interpret this as me being satisfied with the trade deadline. Far from it. However, Preller is erratic and acts on emotion, and also hasn’t carried a good track record in deals and his team is winning for the first time in his 7 year tenure.

  7. You would have to assume that AA liked what he was seeing with Hamels, Wright, and Folty to not make the deals that San Diego had. Maybe it’s fool’s gold, but AA probably feels like he had more in-house solutions than the other teams.

    Since I lamented the lack of time remaining to determine who would start a playoff game for us (August 31st, the trading deadline), they had 13 starts to hand out and they have given 7 of them to Tommy Milone, Robbie Erlin, and Josh Tomlin. That part’s not good, but Anderson has stepped up, and Wright has offered mixed results, which is an improvement from bad results. But they have another 13 starts to hand out, and then the playoffs start.

    But you’d have to wonder what they’re doing. Supposedly Folty has looked better at AAA, but clearly not that much better because Touki is starting today. If you only have 13 starts left, Fried and Anderson will undoubtedly take 6, then you can’t possibly love Folty enough to start Touki over him with such limited time remaining. Add to that, Hamels starts on Wednesday, so he’ll get 3 of those starts. So that’s potentially 9 of your 13 remaining games being given to Fried, Anderson, and Hamels. So Folty and Wright could get those last 2 each, and how much are you possibly going to learn in those 2 starts to hand them the ball in the playoffs?

    It does make sense that they moved Newcomb to the pen. If you don’t think that he’ll be a solution to all of this, then just put him where you think you can guarantee some success.

  8. Well, perhaps we weren’t willing to do a 6 for 2 trade. Either we weren’t willing to pay the price (whatever that was), or our organization didn’t have enough guys (or the right guys) that could return us a proven starter. C’est la vie. Let’s see what the off-season brings…

    With COVID-related financial uncertainty going into 2021, teams appear to be hoarding prospects (i.e., cheap talent). FWIW, only one Top 100 prospect was traded at the deadline and, according to Baseball America, of the Top 6 prospects who were traded, the Padres sent 3 of those guys for Clevinger.

    If this team has 2 genuinely effective starters (and I mean every post-season start), it can advance in the post-season. But it’ll be a tightrope.

  9. You can’t evaluate a trade without knowing both sides of the offer. But, maybe AA makes a blockbuster if he feels we were one starter away. However, there is a very good case that we were more than one starter away, and it was too risky to go all in on one guy.

    Now if you want to discuss how AA got to the trade deadline with only one starter and some glorified long relievers, that is another conversation. Soroka is bad luck, but come on. One starter?

  10. Sean Newcomb was optioned back to Gwinnett and Touki up to start tonight. Let’s hope Touki can pull a Wright.

  11. Yeah, it’s kind of telling that they sent Newk back without giving him a single appearance, even when we’ve got some guys who could probably use a breather. This looks like a sign of an organization losing faith.

  12. @15

    Unless some clubhouse weirdness occurred or something, that had to be the plan. My guess is Newcomb’s on the taxi squad now and is traveling with the team. They probably put him on the roster in case Wright imploded early again and they needed innings or something. I guess.

    I agree that it’s never good from a personal standpoint to be the yo-yo guy who essentially winds up being an NFL-style gameday inactive despite traveling with the team. Newcomb’s other issue is that we desperately needed bullpen help last year. This year, we really don’t need him in the pen, even though that’s his best role. His spot from last year has been taken by some combination of Will Smith, the newly improved A.J. Minter and Tyler Matzek, all three of whom I’d currently much rather give the ball than Newcomb. Even if you say that Smith is a rung up from him anyway (which was clearly the plan, though he hasn’t really been pitching like it), that still leaves Newk currently third on the lefty middle-relief depth chart.

  13. He’s not even arb 1 yet, it appears, so I really don’t think Newk is going to be non-tendered. If they wouldn’t non-tender Adam Duvall would he spent almost a full calendar year seemingly with no usefulness to the team, I don’t think they’re going to non-tender a 26-year old with as much career success as Newcomb when he’s only going to make probably a $1M next year. At least I really hope not.

    Plus, at some point, Atlanta needs to produce something closer to a full bullpen out of all these pitching prospects they have accumulated. Newcomb is a perfect guy to just stash in the pen and let him earn his way back up the pecking order, like how AJ Minter did this year. We’ve got over $50M tied up in this bullpen based on full season salaries. We’re getting what we have paid for, without a doubt, but this team needs to go into 2021 with a bullpen nucleus that doesn’t occupy such a significant percentage of the payroll. And we’re not far off. Amongst guys making almost no money, Minter, Newcomb, Jackson, Dayton, and Matzek isn’t a bad collection of fellas. Shane Greene is not crazy expensive. All those guys together are making about $15M.

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