Anybody out there still awake?
Six hours and 15 minutes after the originally scheduled first pitch time, the Atlanta Braves pulled out a dramatic 4-2 win over the Washington Nationals. A quartet of solo home runs and some dazzling defense held the fort just long enough for Atlanta to escape with a win and take the first game of the series.
Maybe a little less drama and a little earlier on the body clock tomorrow though, Braves.
- They won. Seriously, let’s not skip over the headline here. It sounds basic, but that’s the exact type of game this team has lost all season. Either the bullpen would’ve faltered in one of those late inning jams or the bats would’ve gone silent against a struggling bullpen. That’s the exact type of win we’ve been begging to see all season.
- And it almost never got to that point. Charlie Morton was in a major jam in the first inning, and there was a chance for the game to get out of control right there. But he induced a big double play while down 2-0 to get out of the inning, and then settled into a groove from there. That’s what you pay $18 million for.
- Sometimes the biggest play of the game is early, and the biggest play of tonight’s game was in the fourth inning when Adam Duvall nailed Josh Bell trying to score from second on a Luis Garcia single. If Bell had scored there Washington would’ve taken a 3-0 lead and continued the inning. With how dominant Josiah Gray was looking, that may well have been enough momentum for the Nationals to see out the win. Instead, Duvall shifted the momentum into the Atlanta dugout and Travis d’Arnaud immediately capitalized on it with a homer in the next half inning.
- Speaking of which, welcome back Travis d’Arnaud! Seeing a catcher come up with a clutch hit was a sight for sore eyes.
- Dansby Swanson’s seventh inning was one of the best defensive innings you’ll see. First, he had the presence of mind to throw Andrew Stevenson’s groundball to third instead of second. He recognized there was no chance to turn two with a fast runner, so he cut down the lead runner. That ended up saving a run when the next at-bat was a fielder’s choice. Then he made a diving stop on Alcides Escobar’s line drive, and that saved another run.
- He also set the franchise record for home runs in a season by a shortstop with his ninth inning insurance marker.
- Regardless of whether or not you think he should be the closer, this version of Will Smith is not going to get the Braves where they want to go. His stuff isn’t biting the way it was earlier in the year, and hitters know it. The walks are piling up and so are the high-stress innings. Tonight was also his second consecutive outing hitting a batter, and that almost came back to bite him big time. Even if he was reassigned in the bullpen, he still needs to be better than this whenever he pitches for the Braves to get anywhere.
- He ran out of steam at the end of his outing, but Josiah Gray looks like he’s going to be a problem for years to come in this division. He had Atlanta hitters swinging at air for most of the night for the second time this week.
- This bullpen has been used a lot lately, and there’s not another off day until Thursday. Rich Rodriguez, Tyler Matzek, and Smith have all worked three of the last four days and Luke Jackson has worked two of them. This team really needs a blowout victory or two this week to give these guys a breather and reset things.
Former Brave Of The Day:
Alex Jackson hit his third home run in less than two weeks tonight, and this one was a three-run shot off fellow former Brave Dan Winkler in Miami’s wild 14-10 win over the Cubs.
Quote Of The Game:
“Four solo home runs and seven Charlie Morton strikeouts ago…”
— Abraham Lincoln, somewhat paraphrased
Put up some crooked numbers. This is a depleted Washington pitching staff and probably the deepest lineup the Braves have had since April. Make it count.