Braves wait out rain delay Josiah Gray in 4-2 win over Nationals

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. 

Positives:

  • 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. 

Negatives: 

  • 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 

Tomorrow’s Goal:

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.

43 thoughts on “Braves wait out rain delay Josiah Gray in 4-2 win over Nationals”

  1. Well done recap. Thank you. Love the Abe Lincoln quote. It’s awesome to see the new guys contribute, but it’s also nice when our old guys come through. I didn’t fully appreciate how big Josh Bell is until last night. He’s listed as 6-4, 255 but I think that’s an understatement. He would make an imposing tight end.

  2. So all four starting infielders have 21 or more HR. While that’s got to be a franchise record since no previous Braves SS hit 21, I imagine the MLB record is much higher (maybe around 30 by some Rockies quartet pre-humidor?). Still pretty impressive.

    The infield HR-minus-outfield HR number also seems unusual, though some of the early 1950s teams with Matthews at 3B before Aaron was established might have the franchise record.

  3. The answer to your question, JamesD84, is (and this surprised me more than a little) the 2008 Florida Marlins: Mike Jacobs, 1B (32); Dan Uggla, 2B (32); Hanley Ramirez, SS (33); and Jorge Cantu (29). This is the only infield with 25 or more from every player.

    https://stathead.com/tiny/LT652

  4. @5 Jorge Cant-who now?

    Seriously though that’s a fun factoid. 2021 Braves could join the 25+ hr infield club. Just a couple more dingers!

  5. I am really glad to have Adam Duvall but I knew this version of Alex Jackson was out there. I still think he’s going to come around and be a solid major leaguer. This trade could be a mini-version (very mini) of the Smoltz trade. Duvall helps us to a pennant and AJax is a major contributor for the Fish for years.

  6. The 2002 Texas Rangers had 131 homers from their infield and 48 from their outfield for a difference of 83. That’s the record. I derived this not by the people, but by the position the player was playing when he hit the homer. So, for example, pinch hit homers count as neither.

    The biggest Atlanta difference (to date) is 2011: 93 infield and 41 outfield

  7. Whoa now, Jackson has a .182 BA and .735 OPS that is fueled by these 3 HRs. I’m cheering for him, wishing him the best, but he’s another 0-10 away from hitting .125 with a .600 OPS. I can’t imagine there will be much optimism after that.

    Also, is anyone else having trouble getting used to people with SUB 200 BATTING AVERAGES and still having an acceptable OPS? This is a weird world we’re living in, y’all.

  8. I fell asleep watching this game, prob sometime in the third, so I missed all the drama but Morton stopping it from getting out of hand in the first. Glad to see this result!

  9. Additional info about low BAs: this year, there are 12 players who qualify and are hitting .225 or less. Way back yonder in 2015, there were only 3.

    This is another way of looking at it. I will use the treshold of 200 PAs since we’re 2/3 of the year, and I’ll compare this data to 300 PA participants in 2015. Amongst players with 200 PAs this year, there are 65 players with a BA of .225 or less. For players with 300 PAs in 2015 (a full season, thus the proration), there were 25 players with BAs of .225 or less. Is this a supply issue? Are there simply not enough good hitters to fill rosters, or is this deliberate that teams and coaches are encouraging a certain type of player to play an abbreviated role for a team and just swing for the fences?

  10. @12, seems like it might be more of a demand issue, with managers and front offices realizing that players can contribute despite low BAs if they hit enough homers and draw enough walks. I assume these sorts of players have always been around but that front offices of the past preferred .260 hitters with fewer walks and less power.

  11. Great recap.

    Haven’t heard anyone on social media complain about Dansby lately. Sure glad we didn’t trade him at the deadline for some generic prospect. He is what he is at this point. He’s extremely streaky and will never be a superstar ….but he’s a solid overall player……and that is ok with me.

  12. I am developing a strong respect for our catcher, but I’ll swap in him even for Soto every day.

    Yes, ma’am, Ms. CindyJ. Both Riley and Swanson have silenced this critic, though I cannot promise for how long.

  13. @14 and @15–for much of baseball history, baseball people overvalued batting average, as opposed to getting on base and hitting for power. The Bill James piece JonathanF links to offers empirical evidence to back up that claim.
    In fact, the first insight I gained when I discovered James in the early 1980’s was that many high batting averages are relatively empty. Darrell Evans was an excellent but greatly under appreciated offensive player because his BA was usually .250 or lower. In fact he was a better hitter than Bill Madlock, who “led the league in hitting” multiple times.
    Obviously the sabermetric era has greatly changed our understanding of batting average, but I think many folks still tend to overvalue it.
    Clubs, however, now place greater emphasis on getting on base and hitting with power, and are willing to tolerate a lower BA in someone who has those other offensive skills.

  14. No, no, no, I am NOT abandoning my preconceived notions about batting average. Who moved my cheese?!?!

  15. @17 Coop, I love ya, but I don’t know if Dansby is going to return to the player you hated. Dansby went a lot time being a mediocre player, so your lack of faith was justifiable, but I think he’s here to stay.

    It is interesting how much bWAR and fWAR disagree about Dansby: 1.4 for bWAR, 2.5 for fWAR. I would think it’s because of his defense, so I wonder why bWAR is so down on his D.

  16. Ha ha ha….we had a new director where I used to work….and we all had to read that book, Who Moved My Cheese. THEN we had to go to these stupid meetings about it. I just remember all of us in a giant meeting room wasting time talking about that dumb book…funny memory though.

  17. @18: This also reflects on the inane comparison Chip made between Tony Gwynn and Joey Votto. Tony Gwynn hit .338, which was clearly outstanding enough to carry his low secondary average of .226. Lowering his batting average significantly, even to substantially increase his secondary average would have made him a decidedly worse player. Votto, by contrast, is in top 30 in secondary average in MLB history…. reducing his secondary average to raise his batting average, say, 20 points is almost surely useless to his team. And as tfloyd said at the time, it’s pretty hard to pick two great players whose batting skills were more different.

  18. More Dansbo talk:

    Using bWAR, Dansby is currently 31st all-time in #1 pick bWAR (out of 56):

    https://www.baseball-reference.com/draft/?overall_pick=1&draft_type=junreg&query_type=overall_pick&from_type_jc=0&from_type_hs=0&from_type_4y=0&from_type_unk=0

    So first off, Chief is dead wrong when he says Dansby is “not a #1 pick”, whatever that means. He’s currently ahead of 25 #1 picks. In fact, he could end up being around 15 or so out of 56 depending on how his and a few careers go over the next 10 years. If he can average 2 bWAR over the next 10 years — very possible — that would put him dead even with Josh Hamilton at 15th. If he averaged 3 bWAR for the next 6 years, 2 for the next 3, and 1 for the next 2, that would put him in the 34 range, which would currently be 8th or so.

    So when Chief says he’s not a “#1 pick”, what he’s really saying he’s not Alex Rodriguez, Chipper Jones, or Ken Griffey, Jr. Noted. But the common #1 pick is more like, well, Dansby Swanson. Or Ron Bloonberg. Or Shawon Dunston. Or Kris Benson. In fact, there are more Brien Taylor’s and Brady Aiken’s that never even sniffed the bigs than there are A-Rod’s, Chipper’s, and Junior’s.

  19. @21 Who Moved My Cheese has become the company manual for telling their employees that they will change the rules whenever and however they want, and you better assimilate and get used to it.

    Or else.

  20. The thing is, the Braves traded Shelby Miller for 6 years of Dansby and 3 years (before the extension ?) of Ender. That was a HUGE win for Atlanta even if Dansby never become the superstar like we thought. He is a good player at a key position.

  21. I’ve been saying it for years and I’ll keep saying it: I think Dansby can be Edgar Renteria.

    Albies is just unconscious right now. And Fred’s just Fred.

  22. And although BA isn’t the ultimate measure of a hitter’s worth, it’s pretty cool that Fried has the highest BA on the team.

  23. @28, after Fried’s first AB tonight, the top four BAs on the team for the season are Ynoa, Fried, and Wright & Tomlin. The latter two are tied at 1-for-3 and are likely to see their BAs fall dramatically if they come to the plate again this year.

  24. Coop, I think that’s just Dansby’s way of saying apology accepted.

  25. With that Swanson hr, all 4 of our infielders are now on pace for 30 or more homeruns for the season. (If they don’t miss many games; just a couple in the case of Ozzie and Dansby)

  26. Wow. Dansby giving himself some cushion so he can rest the last week of the season for the playoffs! .808 ops now.

  27. Frenchy and Chip seem sure that Webb will be going to AAA when Ynoa returns instead of Tomlin being released. I just don’t get it.

  28. Travis d’Arnaud looks a lot like former Brave Chase d’Arnaud. Wonder if there’s any relation…

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