Braves beat Nationals 8-4 for fourth consecutive win

All year we’ve been frustrated about the Braves not doing the little things good teams do. Not taking advantage of openings. Not shutting down tight games. Not adding on late with leads. 

Mission accomplished tonight. 

The Braves scored early and late, navigating a wobble in the middle innings to down the Washington Nationals 8-3 and match their longest winning streak of the season at four games. Atlanta is now 56-54 on the season, the high-water mark of the year so far. This week started with the longest streak of alternating futility in baseball history, and it’s ensign with arguably the best stretch of the season so far. Baseball! 

Positives: 

  • When was the last time you saw a game where the key moment was a catcher’s interference? That’s exactly what happened tonight. Jorge Soler reached base on one with two outs and nobody on in the fifth inning, and that turned into a three-run inning that gave the Braves a lead they never relinquished. It was the smallest of openings, but they took advantage. 
  • In fact, this was the second night in a row the Braves flipped a game on its head with a big inning that started after the first two batters were retired. Good teams walk through the door when it’s left open, even if the opening is just a crack. 
  • The bullpen! I am still not ready to call this unit good, but it really is crazy what one big acquisition and a little bit of consistency can do. Five relievers combined to throw 4 ⅓ innings of one-run ball tonight, and all but three of those outs were while the game was still very much in doubt. And best of all, Brian Snitker was able to stay away from both Richard Rodriguez and Will Smith after they worked the last two nights. 
  • Speaking of the bullpen, Luke Jackson’s inning was about as dominant as any inning from any Braves reliever all season. 16 pitches, 10 strikes, three strikeouts with his slider. Thanks for playing, Nationals. 
  • I’m just going to keep telling the front office/ownership to extend Freddie Freeman in these pieces every time he does anything. Three more hits for the reigning MVP tonight, including a clutch two-run single that doubled the lead in the eighth. Extend him. 
  • Adam Duvall looks like he never even left. The RBI machine picked up three more tonight, because of course he did.
  • Dansby Swanson legged out a crucial infield hit that ended up being the game-winning RBI. Every little bit matters.
  • Max Fried: Professional pinch hitter.

Negatives: 

  • Kyle Muller had a Rick Ankiel postseason performance tonight, and I’m not talking about the 2010 NLDS. Did he have yips? Was it just a lack of grip on the ball? Was he overthrowing? Whatever it was, it was rough. He sent four pitches to the backstop, two of which resulted in Washington runs. It’s hard to know what will happen to the rotation when Huascar Ynoa returns to the fold, but tonight definitely didn’t help his chances if his name is on the bubble. 
  • It’s nothing to panic about, but Ozzie Albies is now 2-for-16 at the plate from the lead-off spot after another 0-for-4 night tonight. It might be time to get Joc Pederson back up there, or maybe even try Jorge Soler in that spot. 
  • It sounds like this will be the last series without Travis d’Arnaud, and thank goodness. The standard of hitting behind the plate for the Braves right now is…poor. To say the least. 

Former Brave Of The Day: 

I’ll admit to barrel-scraping on a night without a lot of action from former Braves around the league, but former Braves draft pick Adam Wainwright allowed just two runs in seven innings for the Cardinals tonight. It counts!

Quote Of The Game: 

“I don’t want to embarrass any other catcher by comparing him to Johnny Bench.” 

— Sparky Anderson

Tomorrow’s Goal: 

Secure the longest winning streak of the season to date.

100 thoughts on “Braves beat Nationals 8-4 for fourth consecutive win”

  1. I’m really liking the depth in the line-up now, which will only get better when d’Arnaud rejoins the team. I can see us putting up some crooked numbers way more often.

    I’m also sure if Albies should be leading off either, but he’s probably our best option.

  2. Interestingly with the way they’re playing, the 6 games against the Marlins could be our toughest games.

  3. The way this season has gone, anything reasonably approximating 90 wins would be a success.

  4. I was wondering why Heyward didn’t draw any interest at the deadline with the Cubs selloff, but it definitely makes sense. His 6 homers and 198/271/322 slash line is atrocious. It was looking like he was turning it around, but at 32, his playing days may be numbered.

  5. @6
    Heyward is a caution cone for all big bodied outfielders with an average post-30s hit tool.

  6. Try just pasting the URL on its own line, nothing else.

    Said it before and I’ll say it again: a low-OBP high-SLG hitter like Albies (or, for that matter, Duvall) cannot be a leadoff guy. I’d rather hit Albies cleanup than hit him first.

  7. Albies has been really bad out of the leadoff. It really doesn’t make sense to me why Snit took Joc out from there. He was doing alright.

  8. In the context of his career, Ozzie leading off makes sense against lefties. Against righties, and the context of his last 16 at bats, not as much.

    Edit: I should add, in the context of the current choices.

  9. I think he started hitting Ozzie leadoff against the three lefty starters in St Louis. That makes sense; he’s going to have a better OBP against lefties than Joc.
    The problem was that they won all three games. Snit is very prone to leave a lineup the same when the team is playing well. So even though they were facing a righty last night, he stuck with it. They may have to lose with Ozzie hiring leadoff for him to change it. If that’s so, I hope he stays in the leadoff spot indefinitely. 😀

  10. High OBP is pretty essential for the leadoff hitter. Unfortunately the only two high OBP guys right now are Freeman and Riley. Pederson historically has a higher OBP than anyone else in the lineup. He does walk a lot, but his low career BA means his OBP has never been elite. Albies and Swanson don’t walk very much.
    And I should add that Pederson’s career OBP against lefties is under .300.
    So, there are not any good options for leadoff.
    Fortunately, lineup construction doesn’t make as much difference as most of us think it does.

  11. One more idea re leadoff: Max Fried has a higher OBP than anyone other than Freeman and Riley. Perhaps he should lead off when he starts.

  12. Re: Schedules

    Mets: I’m not predicting anything here, but the next 2 weeks could determine the Mets season. After they finish with the Phils, they have 3 with Was, then they play 13 consecutive games vs SF & LAD.

    If they survive that, they then have 15 consecutive with Was & Mia . But if the Phils or Braves take off, they may be buried a bit by then. Sept/Oct schedule is a bit rough, as well — NYY, Pha, Bos, Mil & Atl, where they finish.

    Phillies: From now until Aug. 25, the Phils have a tough stretch — 13 of the 16 opponents are above .500 (NYM, LAD, Cin, SD, TB).

    However, the Phillies’ late-season schedule isn’t terribly imposing: Starting on Aug. 26, 27 of their last 36 games are against sub-.500 clubs (and that’s assuming the Mets will still be over .500 by mid-Sept). They get Ariz, Col, Was, Bal, Pit & Mia, where they finish the season.

    Of course, the way this season has gone, we could see all 3 still bobbing just above .500 come October.

    Also, we finish at home vs. Pha & NYM. Could be a fun week.

  13. Ububba, I kinda feel bad for you – it must be harder to have conversations about the Mets over Zoom than in the office, and the next two weeks sound like they’re going to be an absolute delight.

  14. Oh, we’ve been back in the office for a while now — we’re just keeping staggered schedules. So, I have definitely heard the gnashing of teeth in recent days over the Mets’ slow-sinking fortunes. The Javy Baez game the other afternoon (5 Ks/8 LOB in Mia) was an all-timer.

    And I’ll be in Atlantic City this week, so I’ll get my fill of Phillie Phanatics as well.

    Phils just ambushed Tylor Megill. So, unless the Mets wake up, it looks like we can hopscotch NYM with a win tonight. Funny how quickly fortunes can turn.

  15. Chip proposes that more consistent contact from Dansby lately is related to his decreased number of strikeouts. He may be on to something.

  16. That’s not good. He may have to quarantine for a few days even if the tests end up negative.

  17. I know its hard to change lineup when you’ve had wins but Peterson needs to go back to leadoff .. and Ozzie back to 4th or 5th ..
    Peterson
    Solar
    Freeman
    Riley
    Albies
    Swanson
    Duvall
    Voit

  18. Matzek continues to look good after a sharp spin rate drop and a few hiccups after the sticky substance crackdown. It really seems that pitching coaches have gotten off scott free during this whole controversy. It’s hard to believe that they would have no knowledge or input in whether or not it was being used.

  19. Well I knew that crap was gonna happen … cause we fiddle farted around .. and Smith walked the first batter …never turns out good .

  20. We were told by someone here that Will Smith was not a problem on this team.

    Screw will smith forever

  21. Crap show. Dude that throws 91 can’t be the closer. He needs to be the 6fb inning guy. Absolute embarrassment

  22. I thought we got Rodriguez for 9th inning … and we could brought him in after the walk .. or at least last batter … wasted him !!! Snitker is a idiot sometimes .

  23. The bullpen has been really good lately ….this is just one of those games. It sucks though.

  24. @42: yes, the bullpen, including Smith, has been good of late. But the Will Smith we saw tonight—that’s who he really is. Will Smith is the new Jim Johnson. Keep running him out there, and we’ll keep enduring these gut-punch losses. And it’s getting late.

  25. Smith has the ERA he has for a very good reason. Don’t be foolish and expect something he is not capable of. There will be more of those down the road. He loves giving up those HR’S. Now a win tomorrow is important. Face it the Mets, the Phillies and the Braves are maybe a bit better than 500 teams. No more, maybe less. It does hurt, but reality always does.
    Who ever said the bullpen is good, does not understand baseball. It takes more than a few games to pass judgement.
    Women did win gold in water polo.
    I thought the Olympics were for amateurs.

  26. Giving up a HR to a rookie hitting.080 , and his first HR, too. Second time it has happened this year, that phillies guy a while ago.

    Braves have too much money invested in that clown to admit a mistake and get him outta the 9th inning. (Or at least have the closer depend on the handedness of the hitters coming up).

    Guy killed the braves in the NLCS last year. His stuff is not good enough for whiffs.
    Yes, he was on a good run in July, but more often than not, buttcheeks were clenched when he came in.

  27. Smith has a 2.96 FIP. He’s not worth the money he is making, but he’s an ok enough reliever. He is a prime example of why it’s dangerous to give a lot of money to any relief pitcher.

  28. @48: Two run first pitch homers deposited about 420 feet from home plate are pretty much the definition of “fielding independent”

  29. @48 I can agree with that; he’s ok enough. That doesn’t deserve an automatic “closer” position just because of the money he makes.
    The biggest issue is Snitker or whoever makes the decisions inability to put the braves in the best statistical position to win it.
    For example, using Smith tonight with 6 righties coming up instead of R Rodriguez, or even Martin. Heck, Matzek was efficient,he could have gone 2 and Luke the 9th.

    RH and LH advantages are a thing, same as 3rd turn through the order. Sadly, management doesn’t often take these things into consideration.

  30. We’ll never know, but I have to think that the outcome would have been different if Freeman wouldn’t have left the game. That was odd how he left the game, I would have thought they should have known before the game whether or not a respiratory infection would keep him out of the game.

  31. Smith has been on a good run so it’s hard to get too mad at him. It’s gonna happen on occasion to every reliever. He is frustrating to watch sometimes — his velocity and control appear mediocre. But when you check his numbers coming into tonight he had been our best reliever. (With the possible exception of Chavez)

  32. 8 innings of great pitching and one inning of bad pitching shouldn’t lead to a loss. Offense only scored 2 runs.

    Not sure it’s been noted, but the Braves now don’t have a back-up infielder with Freddie out, right? I guess Joc would be the emergency first baseman with Adrianza and Riley moving around the infield in the case of an emergency.

  33. @53 He’s pitched in a ton of close games. Him not pitching a clean inning results in a loss in a disproportionate percentage of outings.

    Speaking of pitchers racking up losses, our friend Kolby Allard is 2-10. He has a 5.07 ERA and 4.46 FIP, so it’s not like he’s pitching well, but 2-10 is rough. For his career, he has a 5.92 ERA against a 4.61 FIP. He’s still only 23. Texas ain’t going anywhere, so I think they’ll continue to run him out there. Hopefully he turns a corner.

  34. @55 six loses at this point in the season is not the sign if a quality closer. If you are satisfied with bronze, okay. That is where the Braves are now. Setting the bar too low has become the new standard. This is supposedly the Major Leagues. Not AAAA.
    Maybe Alex Cora had it correct, men you are big boys, let’s play like such. Daily embarrassments are not acceptable.
    Well they are by too many. Will Smith would be demoted if he worked for me.
    Not fired, demoted. Or I would trade him to someone foolish enough to give me a true closer. Check out how the Ray’s use their bullpen. One of the best in baseball.
    Name two. What, you can’t name one?

  35. @50 Totally agree. Snitker designates someone as the closer and he doesn’t deviate. He doesn’t seem capable of being flexible or thinking outside of the box. Smith isn’t good enough to be THE closer. It should be shared based on who is coming up. The Braves should have scored more runs last night and Smith wasn’t a great choice in that situation. That’s why I didn’t freak out about him in particular last night.

    I don’t really agree with giving relievers a big contract and this is why. Very few relievers have been consistently good over a long time. Even Kimbrel was bad for awhile.

    @54 Adrianza is the backup utility infielder. Riley is the backup at 1B.

  36. Who on earth would give you anything useful for Smith? He is better then most relievers in the org,not saying he is great, but that’s the situation.
    His usage is more of the issue. Closer by committee can work.

  37. If our pitching staff is so much better pitching to Ke-van, I would hate to see how bad they would have pitched Friday or today so far with any of our other catchers.

  38. It’s the third inning Chip… the “perfect game” watch was several innings from being in the conversation.

    There goes the shutout Chip

  39. You can tell this is a loss .. guys never play well in day game after night .. they look lost without Freeman .. swinging at everything early in count …

  40. @63 – Love your optimism. It’s easy to get down on the team, but crap, we’ve won 4 out of 5 and are still winning 2 to 1.

  41. Kevan Smith sucks. Another “wild pitch” that I would have called a passed ball.

    Chavez is such a breath of fresh air pounding the strike zone. Not much swing and miss ability though.

  42. I will say that Chavez was great for us for a while, but his usefulness seems to have regressed to what we originally thought. Maybe he should be DFA’d when Anderson and Ynoa get back.

  43. Was afraid Snitker was going to leave him in there until the lead was completely gone.

  44. Geez, people. Get real. This is the first time Chavez has given up more than one run since his first outing with the Braves. His ERA was under 2 until today and it’s still 2.76. Every pitcher EVERY PITCHER can have a bad day. It hurts when it causes a loss like last night, but there is not a single pitcher who can be perfect all the time.

    Chavez’s job is not to get swings and misses, it’s to get weak contact especially on the ground. Pretty much the same thing O’Day did for us last year. Rob’s right that he’s been our best reliever for a while. Both he and Smith were the best in July. Matzek is doing great again but so many people here were ready to drop him too.

    If you have to criticize something for last night, it has to be hibernation mode. The Braves had no business scoring only two runs. Against the Brewers I might forgive but not against last night’s relievers.

  45. Awful frame by Smith on the 3-2 pitch. He has surpassed Hamster as the worst Braves catcher of modern Braves era

  46. @73 For the record, I wasn’t criticizing Chavez….he just didn’t have it today. Snitker reacts too late sometimes……like last night.

    I can’t believe even Brian Jordan thought Rodríguez should have been the closer today. Maybe it will be Matzek though.

  47. It looks like the R Rodriguez spin rate concerns have been overblown. Good job by him today, and great to see a salty Soto after his K.

  48. Oh … no .. martin … they gotta switch Peterson and Albies back .. it doesn’t suit either where they are now…

  49. The bullpen has been worked pretty hard of late with the short outings from Smyly, Muller, and Touki to a lesser extent. They need the off day tomorrow.

  50. @73 – I’m just seeing a downward trend with Chavez. He can still get it back together, but I wasn’t expecting much to start with. I hope he can pull it together but I won’t be shocked if he doesn’t.

  51. Another terrible frame by Smith…unreal. If they don’t dfa this clown for TDA the franchise gets what it deserves

  52. Chavez has been fine for the most part. Smith, too, for what it’s worth. Agree that he’s a “B” not an “A,” but the same was true of Melancon.

    On the other hand, Coldplay delenda est.

  53. Would anyone be so kind to inform me when a pitcher has an ERA for the season of 0.00, a hitter has a 1000 batting average, and a shortstop makes no errors. Until than I will not ask a 250 hitter to hit 300.
    Or a pitcher with an ERA of 4 to pitch back to back shutouts. Now Smith the cather IS NOT a major league hitter or catcher.
    The bullpen is back to normal. Not bad, not great, but maybe approaching good.
    Pitchers today do not have the ability to throw guality strikes consistently. Therefore the Braves have how many complete games. You are correct, zero.
    An embarrassing ZERO. A joke. This puts a tremendous burden on the bullpen. The Ray’s are smart enough to figure this out and have a bullpen where there is quantity and quality better than any other team. I see none of you could name even one.

  54. So Jackson was used last night. I don’t think there’s anything magical about the 9th inning. I’m not sure if Martin was the best choice in the 9th but I love the way Rodriguez was used. Coming in at a critical point in the 7th and pitching the 8th was a great call by Snitker.

    Btw, I think Duvall will eventually find his footing, but he’s taken some terrible routes the last few nights. Hopefully we’ll see some improvement quickly. What position was he playing primarily in Miami?

  55. Holy crud. With all the bellyaching today you’d think the Braves were on some kind of losing streak.

    The bullpen is not Kimbrel/Venters/O’Flaherty. Or last year’s short season/expanded roster super bullpen. There will be runs. There will be losses. Late losses.

    Demote this guy. Replace that guy. Fix the bullpen. But do it without trading away any prospects. Or signing anyone to big contracts.

    Hilarious.

    Sometimes you just get beat. And sometimes you get away by the skin of your teeth.

    Noticing a few voices in here (that sound eerily similar) content to nitpick the team to oblivion.

  56. @94 – makes sense. He should figure it out soon. I have a tendency to take it for granted that left is easier than right, but the routes are definitely different.

  57. “The routes are definitely different.” I should say so. If you try to get those balls in left starting in right field you’re going to run into the center fielder a lot.

  58. The NL East leader is currently the 6th-best team in the entire league. Our division is straight dog meat. Bunch of idiots hitting each other on the head with hammers.

    If St. Louis was in the East, they’d be 3.5 back. Instead, they are 10 back in the Central. If SD was in the East, they’d be leading by 4 games. Instead, they’re 8 back in the West. Incredible.

  59. I would think Kevan Smith is probably out of Atlanta. We have a day off tomorrow, and d’Arnaud has had 17 ABs. Enough already.

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