courtesy of philliefan99
The Washington Nationals did not end up gaining any ground against the first place Atlanta Braves in the National League East division this week as the Braves ended up completing a three-game sweep of the Nats on Wednesday night. Atlanta beat Washington 6-3.
Washington’s struggles this season continued to be on full display as an inconsistent lineup unable to score runs did just that and a struggling bullpen blew open the game. The Nats held strong through the seventh inning while managing to tie up the game a couple of times throughout the night but a big rally by Atlanta in the eighth ended that.
Atlanta did score first on the night. Outfielder and leadoff batter Jason Heyward scored after hitting a double off right-handed pitcher Jordan Zimmermann and coming around on a single hit by first baseman Freddie Freeman making it a 1-0 game. They then extended that lead to 2-0 when second baseman Dan Uggla scored on a sacrifice fly hit by right-handed pitcher Kris Medlen in the fourth inning.
The Braves had seven hits in four innings before the Nats could get a base runner, which goes to show that the Nats’ offense hasn’t really changed much over the course of this season despite Manager Davey Johnson’s constant game of musical chairs. Outfielder Bryce Harper drew a two-out walk in the fourth inning followed by outfielder Jayson Werth’s essential two-run homerun in the fourth to tie up the game.
It wouldn’t be long until Atlanta took the lead again though, which they did in the seventh inning while taking advantage of a weak bullpen. Recent call-up, right-handed pitcher Tanner Roark took over for starter Zimmermann in the fifth inning with a tie intact. Zimmermann threw four innings and gave up seven hits, two runs, and two walks while striking out five batters on eighty eight pitches (54 strikes). Roark came in and dialed up more of the same.
Roark pitched two innings in his Major League Baseball debut and faced seven batters while giving up one single to outfielder B.J. Upton in the sixth inning and completing a 1-4 double play with second baseman Anthony Rendon before being replaced by pinch hitter Roger Bernadina in the bottom of the sixth.
Unfortunately, the rest of the Nats bullpen couldn’t do what Roark did and subsequently blew up the game. Atlanta outfielder Justin Upton crushed a one-out solo homerun off left-handed reliever Fernando Abad to give the Braves a 3-2 lead. Washington answered and tied it back up 3-3 when Werth scored on a fielder’s choice hit by shortstop Ian Desmond but that was it for the Nats as far as scoring was concerned.
Atlanta tacked on three more runs in the eighth inning off left-handed reliever Ian Krol before shutting down the Nats for the night with closer Craig Kimbrel on the mound. Harper led off the ninth with a double followed by Werth taking a walk but even Rendon’s two-out walk, which loaded the bases, couldn’t get the job done. Catcher Wilson Ramos popped out to right field ending the potential rally and completing the Braves’ sweep.