The Nationals (33-43) are coming off three-straight come from behind losses after being swept by Orioles (23-52) this weekend. It wasn’t a record making weekend for Washington, but it sure was for Baltimore. They became the first major-league team to win four straight games while erasing a deficit of at least three runs in each victory.
Tonight the Nats face another team who’s set a major-league record of their own. The 2010 Braves (44-32), managed by the legendary Bobby Cox during his last stint as manager, “opened the year by losing 14 of their first 22 and are now the first team in baseball history to have a losing streak of at least nine games in April and be in first place by June,” according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“It’s been a little crazy around here,” 38-year-old closer Billy Wagner told USA Today, “and by the end of the summer, hopefully it’ll get a little crazier.”
Crazy for the Braves in a good way? Sure. But how about the Nats?
The weight of the NatsTown universe finds itself on the shoulders of young Strasburg (2-1, 1.78) yet again.
Will his 1.78 ERA and major-league record 41 strikeouts in his first four outings be enough to put that stopper on a four game losing streak?
Ben Goessling of MASNsports.com makes a good point – tonight will be a tough test for Strasburg. It will be his biggest test to date because the Braves are more than set to face this Washington team.
Right now, the Braves are hot and sitting atop the NL East. They’re boasting an NL leading .348 on-base percentage. Tim Hudson (7-3, 2.54) knows the Nationals line-up and according to Goessling, “To expect Hudson will give up more than two runs might be wishful thinking.”
Bobby Cox’s Braves are the first NL East team Strasburg will face.
It could also be the first time Strasburg sees fellow rookie phenom Jason Heyward at the plate. However, Heyward might not play due to a sore left thumb.
The key to success in Atlanta tonight is fundamentals, fundamentals, and … oh yes … more fundamentals. The Nats needs to remember to keep the ball in front of them, make good throws, always hit the cut-off man, and play smart ball. Surrendering another lead is not something the residents of NatsTown would look forward to seeing.
Tonight’s game starts at 7:10 p.m. from Turner Field in Atlanta and you can watch it on MASN and MASN HD.