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Around the NL East: Walk-off wins

Jun 18, 2013, 5:14 PM EDT

Photo by USA Today

By Steve Roney
CSNwashington.com

Though the standings remain unchanged, the dogfight between the Nationals and Phillies for second place is perhaps the most intriguing story in an otherwise underwhelming division. Can the Nats finally shape up and pull away? How long can Domonic Brown prop up the Phillies? Both teams could still catch the first place Braves, of course, but as the mercury rises neither team really feels up to the challenge.

Atlanta Braves (42 – 28)

Freddie Freeman's two-run blast in the bottom of the ninth last night gave the Braves a thrilling 2-1 victory over the Mets, as well as a three-game winning streak after dropping four straight. Oddly enough, the Braves have lost in bunches this season, with five losing streaks of at least three games, though they've counterbalanced those skids with winning streaks of ten, eight, and five games. And yes, if you throw out their 13-2 start, they're just 29-26 since — but those first 15 games count for just as much as the last 15, and the lead they have is the biggest in baseball. They say that what matters most is how your finish, and not how you start…but if you sprint out of the gate faster than anyone else, sometimes you can coast to the finish line. Ask Usain Bolt.

Aside from Freeman, who has proven to be far and away Atlanta's best hitter, the catching duo of Evan Gattis and Brian McCann has been impressively powerful (a combined 21 home runs and 51 RBI), and Chris Johnson has given them good production at third. The expected boost provided by starter Brandon Beachy will have to wait a bit, however, as word came today that he's been scratched from a doubleheader start against New York this afternoon. An MRI was negative, showing only fluid in his surgically repaired elbow, but the Braves can wait to debut Beachy with five good-or-better starters already in the mix.

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  1. Tcostant - Jun 18, 2013 at 5:24 PM

    And yes, if you throw out their 13-2 start, they're just 29-26 since. If you throw out the Nats 14-4 start in 2012, they win 84 games. That is part of their record, the Braves won those games, so get over it. I hate loser comments like this.

  2. NatsLady - Jun 18, 2013 at 5:27 PM

    Tcostant, I think that's what he said.but those first 15 games count for just as much as the last 15, and the lead they have is the biggest in baseball. They say that what matters most is how your finish, and not how you start…but if you sprint out of the gate faster than anyone else, sometimes you can coast to the finish line. Ask Usain Bolt.

  3. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Jun 18, 2013 at 5:34 PM

    Indeed, that was his point, NL; that, and the fact that it *was* the start, and they've played about .500 since then, as have the Nats.

  4. Eric - Jun 18, 2013 at 5:37 PM

    "I hate loser comments like this."And, I love people with no sense of irony.

  5. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jun 18, 2013 at 5:50 PM

    The Braves started the year with Justin Upton en fuego and Chris Johnson and Evan Gattis. Even without Brian McCann they made a quick run.The Nats started with a slumping trio of Adam LaRoche, Danny Espinosa, and the entire bench. With that many sub-Mendoza performers, I'm surprised the Nats are where they are and STILL have a chance of going on a huge winning streak and taking the NL East. 92 games remaining in the regular season!

  6. Eric - Jun 18, 2013 at 5:51 PM

    >I'm surprised the Nats are where they areYou and Pythagoras both!

  7. Tcostant - Jun 18, 2013 at 5:58 PM

    NatsLady – I know, I'm just sick of people bring it up. It's like when a player says "Not to make any excusses but our All-Star hitter is out". Well, just because you say "Not to make any excusses", doesn't mean you should list excusses after it.

  8. Caps Fan - Jun 18, 2013 at 5:59 PM

    "but those first 15 games count for just as much as the last 15, and the lead they have is the biggest in baseball. They say that what matters most is how your finish, and not how you start…but if you sprint out of the gate faster than anyone else, sometimes you can coast to the finish line. Ask Usain Bolt."Or sometimes you can sprint out of the gate faster than anyone else and still end up in a dogfight at the end. Ask the 2012 Nats.The point being that the Nats jumped out of the gate to a big lead last year, but they let the Braves hang around. The Braves are doing their best this year to let the Nats hang around. Can the Nats seize the opportunity?

  9. SCNatsFan - Jun 18, 2013 at 6:10 PM

    The Nats should be forced to watch Braves games every night – they and the Cards are teams that know how to win. Hopefully the Nats can learn. Quickly.

  10. Mr Baseball - Jun 18, 2013 at 6:11 PM

    What would our record be if we hadn't played so many games against the Marlins at the beginning of the season!

  11. Eric - Jun 18, 2013 at 6:15 PM

    "I know, I'm just sick of people bring it up."How do you feel about stripping comments of context and intended meaning? I love it myself; I think it makes for the best kind of Internet debate: hot and breezy.

  12. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Jun 18, 2013 at 6:15 PM

    Caps Fan, or the 1982 Braves.13 games over .500 on April 21; 24 games over on July 24; August 18 they were 7 over, and in second place. The Dodgers and Giants beat each others' brains in for the rest of the way, and the Braves won on the last day, 16 games over.

  13. Don - Jun 18, 2013 at 6:17 PM

    The youth movement that Philly so badly needs to begin in earnest? They are just not that old of a club. Doc, Utley, Ruiz and Young all come off the books this year anyway. They can reload pretty well without having to unload Lee (who is cheap right now, even with $52.5M coming due to him after this year, when you consider that getting an Ace in FA is a $200M item these days).

  14. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jun 18, 2013 at 6:20 PM

    Mets finally on the board against the Barfs. 2-0 and threatening. Braves already pulled their starter.

  15. NatsLady - Jun 18, 2013 at 6:22 PM

    I hear you there, Tcostant. I think the point is not to disregard to the hot start, nor to say what would have happened had they not HAD the hot start. I think the purpose is to evaluate how the team is performing currently, that is, since the hot start. The Nats went through a period last year of over 50 games at the .500 level, but it was "masked" by the hot start. If Atlanta continues to play .500 ball the Nats can catch up with a month's hot streak. That's why it's important, IMO, not to let morale sag (in the clubhouse, I mean) and keep on grinding.

  16. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Jun 18, 2013 at 6:25 PM

    Or, as Roger Craig used to say, "Don't get your dauber down."

  17. NatsLady - Jun 18, 2013 at 6:33 PM

    Any interest in this guy? The inevitable fire sale is looming for the last-place Milwaukee Brewers, and among their collection of tradable pieces, Yovani Gallardo will likely be their most sought out asset.Gallardo has whirled 14 scoreless innings over his past two starts. The Brewers couldn’t be happier because his trade value is gradually increasing after a brutal start to the season. However, Gallardo’s value wasn’t as high as it once was. It will take a few more scoreless innings before he can get back to that point.

  18. UnkyD - Jun 18, 2013 at 6:35 PM

    Nobody's elated. I feel bad for Henry, and I'm glad he's somebody else's problem, now, but I don't see anybody dancing on his grave, Karl…WODL said:" but the Nats simply have no chance to win with this kind of hitting. That is not doom. That is simply the facts."————— I don't get the defensiveness of the L.O.D… We Rosey Glasses folk look at the same data, and hold out for a more positive outcome, based on what we know of our pitching, and the history of Zim, Adam, Desi, Werth, Span, Harp, and what we see happening with Rendon, while y'all see the disappointing output, this far this year, and the two camps have differing visions. Neither vision is "fact"… Some of you keep insisting that your pessimism is "fact". Stop it! Legion of Doom is not an vile epithet, any more than Rose Colored Glasses… It's just a semi-affectionate handle we imaginary friends hang on one another (the degree of affection depends on how badly the Boys are playing, on a given night,lol). So, as the likely outcome, for the season, lies somewhere between the two visions, can we all stop taking our various reactions to the games, so personally? I love almost all the commentary here, but nothing any of us has to say about tomorrow, or the rest of the year, is "fact"….. It's all conjecture. And, disagreeing is FUN!

  19. Nats 128 - Jun 18, 2013 at 6:52 PM

    I remember one of the big pluses for Denard Span was he got on base to open the game at one of the highest % in the bigs. Now we are hoping he can get on base 1 or more times per game.

  20. baseballswami - Jun 18, 2013 at 6:52 PM

    So much talk about Barves. First we have to stay ahead of the Sillies, then maybe ATL. Then whoever does that can have the fun task of challenging STL- they are a baseball machine. That is the team the Nats should have to be tied to a chair and watch. Talk about playing the game the right way. Does Matheny have a brother or a clone? Is there another catching Miolina brother out there somewhere. Honestly, I can handle losing– but I hate bad baseball. Play the game hard and correctly and I will accept whatever the results are.

  21. baseballswami - Jun 18, 2013 at 6:55 PM

    News flashes- Harvey a world beater today and maybe no game tonight in Philly.

  22. NatsLady - Jun 18, 2013 at 6:55 PM

    Good chance of rain/thunderstorms tonight in Philly. (It's pouring here). I hope we don't wait until midnight to play.

  23. baseballswami - Jun 18, 2013 at 6:58 PM

    And I would like to point out that the aforementioned Barves put Gattis on the DL immediately. No day to day bs and playing short. That happens to be something that I have seen as iffy management this season. Very poor injury management indeed.

  24. Eric - Jun 18, 2013 at 7:01 PM

    "[STL] is the team the Nats should have to be tied to a chair and watch."Agreed.

  25. Section 222 - Jun 18, 2013 at 7:09 PM

    Saw this quote in a Nats Journal entry yesterday: "Johnson has preached aggressiveness. Hitters, he said, are letting the ball travel too deep into the their swings and their timing is being thrown off because of it."FP's head just exploded.The same entry noted that ALR said yesterday he was being, deservedly, "benched." I wonder if he'll be in the lineup today. He's an imposing LH pinch hitter to have available, but Davey needs to figure out how to use him in situation can't just send in a LOOGY like Charlie did last night. Because ALR is a pretty easy out against a lefty right now, especially in his first at bat.

  26. Nats 128 - Jun 18, 2013 at 7:13 PM

    Harveys no hitter over on a crazy comebacker to the mound with nobody covering 1st.

  27. baseballswami - Jun 18, 2013 at 7:14 PM

    It seems to me that a lot of our hitters are making things easy for opposing pitchers. As I watch, I am sitting there wishing they were making themselves a tougher out and making their at bats and innings longer.

  28. Laddie Blah Blah - Jun 18, 2013 at 7:14 PM

    The Nats have yet to lay their best baseball. Last year, at this time, Zim was only hitting around .220 before he took off for the remainder of the year. Harper is much better this year than last, and he will be back, soon. Rendon adds so much to the Nats offense. Desi is solid. That's a lot of offense. I expect Ryan to pick it up in the 2nd half and Harper to come back as good as ever.The year started out with terrible defense from the left side. Desi has since played like a gold glover. Zim seems to be getting more accurate with his tosses to first, week by week. Span has been great in CF. The team D has improved since those first shaky days out of the gate.Span is dinged, ALR is feeling his age, Kurt is overworked, and Werth is slipping. I am not counting on Ramos coming back this year. Davey can manage around Span, ALR, and Suzuki's problems by subbing the bench guys until Span is healed, and ALR and Suzuki catch their second wind. Not sure about Jason. He was out for so long, he may need a little more time.Be patient. The offense picked up in the 2nd half last year, and could easily do it, again, this year. And you never know what Rizzo might come up with. Krol has turned out to be a heckuva PTBNL. Mike pulled Ohlendorf out of his bag of tricks, and we now have a reliable closer.Things could be a lot worse. We could be the Dodgers. Or the Angels. Or the Blue Jays. I think the Nats can still pull it together and go on a tear. I thought the early Braves were over-rated and over-achieving. I still think so. They got hot early, we can get hot late. It is the Nats who have under-achieved, thus far. Those things have a way of playing out over a 162 game schedule.If I am wrong, there is next year. It's a game. Enjoy it as much as Tony Rendon does. I can't wait for Rendon and Harper to hit 2 and 3, and for a heavy-swinging Zim to back them up. When Harp comes back, it's a new ball game.

  29. baseballswami - Jun 18, 2013 at 7:18 PM

    I also think a good run is possible, maybe not probable, but possible. And I absolutely cannot wait to see Harper and Rendon play together.

  30. Nats 128 - Jun 18, 2013 at 7:18 PM

    Strike em out throw em out doubleplay and on to the 8th. Mets 2 Braves 0

  31. Section 222 - Jun 18, 2013 at 7:21 PM

    I assume most people have seen video of H-Rod's debut with the Cubs last night, but if not, you can check it out here.Ouch.

  32. Nats 128 - Jun 18, 2013 at 7:24 PM

    Section 222, oh whoa on that video. Henry looks like his old self. The good news for the Cubs is they gave up the baseball equivalent of a corpse for Henry.

  33. Section 222 - Jun 18, 2013 at 7:28 PM

    Speaking of wild throws, here's another play filled with comic errors. With men on 1st and 2nd, Alfonso Soriano hits a hot shot to third and when the dust clears, the Mets have committed three errors, two runs have scored, and Soriano is standing on 3B. I kid you not.

  34. Rabbit34 - Jun 18, 2013 at 7:30 PM

    Walk-off wins. Game winning hits. Yeah. I remember those.

  35. Rabbit34 - Jun 18, 2013 at 7:32 PM

    Lady bla bla. You are wrong. The Nats have laid their best baseball. They put it to rest.

  36. Nats 128 - Jun 18, 2013 at 7:35 PM

    Mets up 4-0

  37. karlkolchak - Jun 18, 2013 at 7:37 PM

    Regarding Gallarado – ugh, no…just no. Who are we going to trade to get a good starter with one, possibly two more years left on his contract if his option is picked up? The Brewers are going to want at least two very good prospects who will be able to play in the bigs fairly soon. Who do we have like that? Virtually nobody as far as position players go (don't tell me Zach Walters–dude is hitting like an old Adam Dunn at age 23 and has 17 errors already). If Span's value was Alex Meyer, Gallarado is going to take a combination like Taylor Jordan and Nate Karns. Our system is already far too depeleted of upper level talent to sabotage it even further.

  38. Nats 128 - Jun 18, 2013 at 7:40 PM

    karlkolchak I agree unless a team is looking for a salary dump. Just can't deplete the Minors any more. Rizzo probably thinks Haren is his answer anyways.

  39. natsfan1a - Jun 18, 2013 at 7:46 PM

    Line below is from the Mets item linked to by 222. Now, that's funny. (Hey, it's Enrico Palazzo!)"Alfonso Soriano lined a ground ball to third, stopped nicely by a diving David Wright and thus began the opening sequence of a Naked Gun film."

  40. baseballswami - Jun 18, 2013 at 7:48 PM

    Maybe Bud Norris before the trade deadline?

  41. Nats 128 - Jun 18, 2013 at 7:53 PM

    The Braves are rallying again in the 9th and knocked Harvey out. 4-2 game now with only 1 out and 2 on.

  42. Eric - Jun 18, 2013 at 7:56 PM

    >The Braves are rallying again in the 9th and knocked Harvey out. 4-2 game now with only 1 out and 2 on.Even worse, it's the 8th, not the 9th. Ugh.

  43. Eric - Jun 18, 2013 at 7:56 PM

    1-2, 2 out, men on the corners.

  44. NatsJack in Florida - Jun 18, 2013 at 7:57 PM

    Uhhh…it's only the bottom of the 8th.

  45. baseballswami - Jun 18, 2013 at 7:57 PM

    I am really starting to despise them.

  46. natsfan1a - Jun 18, 2013 at 7:57 PM

    It gets late early there.

  47. Nats 128 - Jun 18, 2013 at 7:58 PM

    Justin Upton softly grounds out. 4-2 with 2 out and Jason Heyward coming up to bat with 2 on base.

  48. Eric - Jun 18, 2013 at 7:58 PM

    Oh, sorry, 1 – 2 was the count on Upton before he grounded out for out #2.

  49. Nats 128 - Jun 18, 2013 at 7:58 PM

    Right you are natsjack. Bottom of 8.

  50. SonnyG10 - Jun 18, 2013 at 7:58 PM

    Laddie, liked your post re 3:14.

  51. Eric - Jun 18, 2013 at 8:01 PM

    I'll take that beer however (virtual or real), NatsJack (re, 8th inning) ;).

  52. Nats 128 - Jun 18, 2013 at 8:01 PM

    Heyward with double. 4-3 now.

  53. Secret wasian man - Jun 18, 2013 at 8:07 PM

    Not really concerned about the Barves. We need to string more than 1 or 2 wins together. Then I'll start to care. Nats not even close to the Barves level.

  54. Nats 128 - Jun 18, 2013 at 8:10 PM

    swm, yes however any help with the Braves losing is bonus.

  55. Nats 128 - Jun 18, 2013 at 8:11 PM

    Span back to leading off.

  56. Secret wasian man - Jun 18, 2013 at 8:11 PM

    I hope the mets win. But that Harvey is a real arrogant dude. He must always be in the spotlight. A real clown. Glad we got Stras who is simple and down to earth.

  57. baseballswami - Jun 18, 2013 at 8:29 PM

    Yeah– none of those young pitchers are prima donnas at all …………. The one I think is arrogant is Medlin.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 57 45 --
ATLANTA 57 48 1.5
MIAMI 51 53 7.0
NEW YORK 50 55 8.5
PHILADELPHIA 46 59 12.5
Through Sunday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
MON: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Marlins, 12:40 p.m.
THU: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

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