The Nats put up a fight but only delayed the inevitable. As exciting as the ninth inning two run home run off the bat of Anthony Rendon was that caused Craig Kimbrel to blow his fifth save it only served to delay the Nats loss. The Nats have a remarkable record when scoring four or more runs and this was just their third loss of the season when they’ve reached that magic number. The Nats found the four runs absolutely necessary because their Ace, Stephen Strasburg, didn’t have his best stuff, and while he gutted out six innings he gave up four runs in the process. Not a good outing from a pitcher that should be capable of shutting down the opposition.
To Strasburg’s credit he did come into this game leading the NL in FIP and fWAR, but when the Nats have needed him most he hasn’t been at his best and at 1-6 on the year against the Braves and clinging by a half game to first place the Nats needed Strasburg. Some nights a starting pitcher isn’t going to have everything working and this was one of those nights for Strasburg as the curve simply wasn’t present.
For the first eight innings the Nationals played like a team that had accepted their fate. They look frustrated at the plate letting fastballs down the middle go by for strikes and swinging at balls out of the zone. It was the second straight night that the Nats had looked listless at the plate against a Braves starting pitcher. The Nats need to find a way to beat the Braves if they hope to win the division and so far this season they haven’t been able to do so. 1-7 against a team that all the statistics say you’re better than is inexplicable. It is downright bizarre, and simply does not make since.
The other oddity about this loss and the Nationals on the season is that while they have the best bullpen ERA in the majors it hasn’t helped them achieve any bit of success in extra inning games. This was the Nats seventh straight loss in extra inning contests with their lone win coming against the Mets on Opening Day. With the loss to the Braves the Nats fall to a half game behind the Braves in the division and will turn to Doug Fister to play stopper and get them back on track, but that won’t be easy as the Braves will have their best starter, Julio Teheran, on the mound.
With Anthony Rendon’s home run off of Craig Kimbrel it looked like the Nationals luck against the Braves was about to turn, but it wasn’t to be. The loss was only delayed, and in the end the Nationals ended the evening in a whimper as Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa, and Sandy Leon went down in order against the Braves back-up closer Jordan Walden.