Tagged: Atlanta Braves

Hail, Hail Victory

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It may have taken
over five hours. And yeah, they had to endure two rain delays, including one
that dropped hail (yes, hail) on the field at Nationals Park. But it was all
worth it, as the Washington Nationals found their way into the victory column
for the first time this season, beating the Atlanta Braves 6-3 this afternoon.

Watching the
Nationals today, it is refreshing to see a team that is much sounder on defense
(and capable of making more plays), and able to gut out tough innings with the
bullpen. After tying the Pirates (argh, we’re terrible) with the most errors in
baseball last season (an absurd 127), two consecutive error-free games to start
the season is a relative treat to watch.

One thing I’m
interested in going forward is how the Nationals will handle the ninth inning.
Today, manager Jim Riggleman went with the left-hander, Sean Burnett, to get
the last out in the bottom of the 8th (lefty Freddie Freeman was up) and to
close out the ninth. Drew Storen, the once, and still presumed future closer,
was used to get two outs in the eight, and in the process, managed to cough up
a home run to Alex Gonzalez. As I said in my season preview, it is critical for
the franchise’s future that the Nationals get Storen right and back to nailing
down games at the end. For now, it remains a work in progress.

So, first things
first: The Nationals go for the series win tomorrow!

Game 2 Natties

Game Ball: Rick Ankiel. We got the better of the 2
true outcomes today. And a tip of the cap to Jim Riggleman for calling a
suicide squeeze with Ankiel the at-bat after he hits a home run. Crafty call
leading to a nice insurance run.

Goat: Tommy Hanson, Braves. The young ace
didn’t locate his pitches well and the results showed. And yes, Chad Gaudin, I
took note that you somehow continue to be employed based on illusory stuff that
never translates to quality results (career ERA of 4.61/career xFIP of 4.64).
Nice first pitch home run surrendered to Dan Uggla.

Bryce Harper is a ways off: Tyler Clippard, throwing gas, getting 5
big outs in the middle innings. 

Current Record: 1-1

Opening Day

werth k opening day 2011.jpg

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You know, even on Opening Day, the most
glorious of all baseball days, except perhaps Game 1 of the World Series (a
real glue-sniffer aren’t you?), it is easy to see one of the benefits of being
gainfully employed. On lunch, you are only able to catch the first inning of
what figures to be one of too many loses ahead. And so it was this afternoon
with the Washington Nationals opening up with a home loss to the Atlanta
Braves, 2-0.

Strangely enough, the first inning
served as a nice microcosm of the game. Fall behind early, as the Braves used a
timely two-out single by Brian McCann to push across Chipper Jones for the
first run of the game, and then strand runners at first and third with only one
out in the bottom of the first. You want to know one of the crucial differences
between a perennial division contender like the Braves and the Nationals? The
ability to score with frequency when the opportunity demands it.

On the upside, showing tenacious
offensive ineptness, the Nationals squandered two other decent chances to
score, leaving two runners on in both the bottom of the sixth and seventh
innings, cutting off any chances of overcoming the Braves 2-0 lead. And while
it is way too early to jump to any conclusions, I hope Ian Desmond’s 0-4 with
no walks at the top of the lineup is not an awful on-base harbinger of things
to come.

Looking at the box score, it is nice to
see the Nationals pitching staff getting off to a strong start, with Livan
Hernandez doing his usual yeoman’s work, 6 1/3 with no walks and 2 earned runs.
Given Livan’s starts are about as reliable as the age on his birth certificate,
he gave the team a chance to win. The bullpen also kept the Nats in the game,
giving the team 2 2/3 innings of no run baseball. If the Nationals can get 6 or
7 decent innings most starts from their pitching staff, then the Nationals may
actually make a run at a 6 or 7 game improvement this year.

I know there is always a tendency to
make too much of one game, especially opening day. So I’m not prepared to draw
any hard and fast conclusions about the Nationals from this game, or any one
game. I’ll leave such deep ruminations to John Kruk and look forward to
Saturday (yeah not tomorrow wizards of MLB scheduling), game 2 of another great
season of baseball.

Game 1 Natties

Game ball: Derek Lowe and the Braves bullpen. A
shutout on opening day, even in cold, dreary weather, is impressive.

Goat: Nationals hitters with runners in
scoring position. Need I name you all? 

Bryce Harper is a ways off: Danny Espinosa going 2-3, including a
one-out double in the 7th that naturally leads to zip, zero, nada.

Current Record: 0-1

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