The Nationals

Nats Fall 6-2 in Series Finale vs Braves

Wednesday evening was a tough loss to swallow for Washington as the Nationals fell 6-2 against the Atlanta Braves during the series finale of their recent three-game set. Washington took two of three in the series and are eight games ahead of their division rival with a magic number of ten.

The Nats remained in good spirits despite the loss but are aware of the challenges that still lie ahead as the stakes get higher. “It’s nice to be able to win a series, be able to come out strong [and] really play good baseball these past couple days,” outfielder Bryce Harper said after the game. “You’ve got to go in to win ball games. If you don’t win the ballgames then something could happen. If you win ballgames then what you want to happen happens.”

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The Nationals

Nationals top Braves 6-4, reduce magic number to 10

With just scant weeks remaining in the season, the Nationals reduced their magic number to ten, and increased their divisional lead to nine games – the largest span for any team in the NL East this season to date – in a 6-4 victory over the Braves in front of 29,233 at Nationals Park. 

The first inning of the Nationals game tonight was something out of a Bosch painting for the Atlanta Braves. After struggling against Jordan Zimmermann in the top half of the inning, the hits just kept coming against starter Ervin Santana. The Nationals would bat around in the bottom of the first, scoring four runs on five hits, with the only outs coming on a pair of sacrifices and a ground-out from the pitcher.

One could easily say that Santana was nibbled to death by ducks by the Nationals’ offense, but they had helped from some lackluster defensive moments, as well. A two-base throwing error by catcher Christian Bethancourt allowed Werth to advance to third and then score on a subsequent single by Adam LaRoche in the second inning. Manager Matt Williams would laud the Nats’ aggressive approach at the plate in his post-game press conference. “The thing I liked about it was, it wasn’t via the homer… It was hitting the ball back up the middle, the other way… That’s a good thing.”

The Braves were not without teeth tonight, scoring a pair in the fourth, and another pair in the sixth, with defensive failures by the Nationals costing them each time. 

With Jordan Zimmermann’s day done after six innings of four run baseball, the Nationals turned to a committee of bullpen relief to finish out the game. Aaron Barrett hurled a 7-pitch 1-2-3 7th inning before coming back to start the 8th. After giving up a double former National Emilio Bonifacio and getting Phil Gosselin to ground out, Matt Williams turned to his bullpen to face the heart of the Braves order. Freddie Freeman, who is hitting just over .500 against the Nationals’ staff this year, was cashiered by Ross Detwiler. Justin Upton, who supplied two of the Braves’ runs in the sixth with a monster home run. 

Closer-apparent Drew Storen came in for the ninth, and notched his third save in three days after replacing Soriano in the position. He was devastatingly effective tonight, retiring Heyward, Johnson and Bethancourt on just seven pitches, bringing his 3-day total to 42. Per Matt Williams, he will not be pitching in Wednesday’s mid-afternoon tilt, but Tyler Clippard had the night off tonight and would be ready to fill that gap.

Ian Desmond departed the game in the fifth inning with lower back tightness, which he brought to the team’s attention this morning and became more bothersome as the game continued on. He is expected to return to the lineup for the afternoon game Wednesday.

With tonight’s win, the Nationals draw ever closer to their second division title in three years, and there are a lot of reasons to be a very excited Nats fan. If you’ve got the chance, cut out of work a little early on Wednesday and go see these guys play.

The Nationals

Nats Squeak By Atlanta, Beat Braves 2-1

The Washington Nationals squeaked by the Atlanta Braves in a 2-1 victory on Monday night as right-handed starter Doug Fister tallied his thirteenth win of the season. Fister threw 104 pitches and 74 strikes in seven innings pitched and gave up two hits and three walks while striking out three batters faced.

Washington took an early and necessary lead in the top of the first inning before the game turned into a pitching duel between Fister and the Braves’ left-handed starter Mike Minor. Third baseman Anthony Rendon scored on two-out single hit by shortstop Ian Desmond off Minor but the Nats wouldn’t score again until the seventh inning; Braves 0, Nats 1. Continue reading

Sports Fix, The Daily Feed

Nationals lose laugher to Braves 11-2

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‘scooting through’
courtesy of ‘philliefan99′

April baseball can be a peculiar thing. The Nationals today displayed that peculiarity in all of its ugliness before a crowd of 22,210, surrendering 11 runs to the Braves,

Despite a month of Spring Training ball, both the Braves and Nationals made some ugly miscues in the field this afternoon.  In the bottom of the first, Braves’ veteran Chipper Jones crossed in front of Jayson Werth on the basepath, inciting a collision that threw Werth off his balance and cost him a few steps. He turned 3rd and headed for home to be thrown out, but awarded the run on obstruction.

Twice the Nationals’ outfielders ran into trouble with balls in the right-center gap, with Werth and Ankiel having some miscommunication over who was playing lead.  The biggest defensive trouble came from Danny Espinosa today, whose efforts in the fifth formally cost him an error and the Nationals a run, but that was just one of four plays on the day that hurt the Nationals in the field.

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News, Sports Fix, The Daily Feed

Hudson mystifies Nationals, Braves win 3-1

IMG_7508 Peralta.jpg
Photo by Cheryl Nichols, Nationals News Network

The running gag in the postgame press conferences at Nationals Park from Manager Jim Riggleman is that he tends to say something about running into aces, and playing hard ball. Tonight the Nationals did both. They faced the Braves’ ace in Tim Hudson, who went 7 2/3 IP throwing just 96 pitches, and retired seven on strikeouts. Hudson was dominant most of the evening, brushing off the Nats offense with near impunity. The Nats did play hard tonight, but couldn’t generate any offensive action, and made some key defensive mistakes. Continue reading