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Instant analysis: Braves 5, Nats 2

Sep 18, 2013, 10:27 PM EDT

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Game in a nutshell: After taking both ends of Tuesday’s doubleheader, the Nationals found themselves in position to go for a rare (but much-needed) series sweep of the Braves. They put themselves in position to pull it off, taking a 2-0 lead in a wild bottom of the fifth that saw Jayson Werth draw a bases-loaded walk on a borderline call by plate umpire C.B. Bucknor, leading to both Fredi Gonzalez and Alex Wood’s ejections. But it all came crashing down in the top of the sixth when Ross Ohlendorf (who had allowed only one baserunner to that point) served up a pair of home runs and committed a throwing error to give the Braves the lead. Atlanta added an insurance run in the seventh and another in the ninth, leaving the Nationals to have to mount an improbable rally against Craig Kimbrel for the second straight day. They pulled it off Tuesday afternoon. They couldn’t do it again tonight. Thus they failed to pull off the improbable sweep and fell (for the moment) to 5 games back in the NL Wild Card race with 10 game to play, with the Reds tied with the Astros in the sixth when this game ended.

Hitting highlight: When Denard Span stepped to the plate in the bottom of the seventh, he and the crowd of 30,636 knew this might be his last chance to keep the hitting streak alive. Span worked his way to a 3-1 count, and obviously a leadoff walk with his team trailing by two runs late would have been a welcome result. But he delivered an even better result, roping a line drive over Dan Uggla’s head at second base for a clean single. The crowd roared as Span rounded first base, advancing his hitting streak to 29 games. He’s now only one game shy of Ryan Zimmerman’s club record, set in 2009.

Pitching lowlight: The good news: Ohlendorf was brilliant for five innings, allowing one hit and facing the minimum 15 batters. The bad news: He has shown a penchant for fading quickly as he gets deeper into games, and sure enough it happened again tonight at the worst possible time. Ohlendorf served up a homer to the first batter he faced in the sixth. He committed a ghastly throwing error on a bunt by the second batter. He very nearly served up a 2-run homer to the third batter, saved only by the right-field foul pole. But then he did serve up a 2-run blast to the fifth batter of the inning, leaving the Nationals trailing and leaving plenty questioning why Davey Johnson didn’t have anybody warming in the bullpen knowing Ohlendorf’s tendencies. What are those tendencies? Well, as a starter this season, Ohlendorf boasts a 1.93 ERA in innings 1-4. But in innings 5-7, that number skyrockets to 7.84.

Key stat: The Nationals finished the season 6-13 against the Braves.

Up next: The Marlins come to town for the Nationals’ final homestand of the regular season, a four-game series that may require a Washington sweep to keep hopes alive of another home game in 2013. Stephen Strasburg returns from his forearm tightness to face right-hander Henderson Alvarez.

  1. David Proctor - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:31 PM

    This loss hurts, but we shouldn’t overreact just yet. We weren’t going to go 15-0 to end the season. We were going to lose at some point. Now we need to go 9-1 at worse. 10-0 would be ideal. No more room for error, we’ve used it all up.

  2. Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:35 PM

    Should have scored more than 2 runs… But Ohly shouldn’t have come out for the 6th… That inning changed the dynamic of the game…

    On to the fish… Hope we sweep them.

  3. David Proctor - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:37 PM

    Strasburg scratched again for tomorrow. Gio starting. I’m worried now.

    Strasburg going on Saturday now.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:39 PM

      Unh…. That’s not good at all…

    • NatsLady - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:45 PM

      Davey has no long reliever. I see the sense in this with having used Stammen two days in a row.

      Let Gio and JZ eat up some innings, by Saturday Stammen should be rested. in case Stras goes short.

  4. Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:38 PM

    But then he did serve up a 2-run blast to the fifth batter of the inning, leaving the Nationals trailing and leaving plenty questioning why Davey Johnson didn’t have anybody warming in the bullpen knowing Ohlendorf’s tendencies. What are those tendencies? Well, as a starter this season, Ohlendorf boasts a 1.93 ERA in innings 1-4. But in innings 5-7, that number skyrockets to 7.84.

    ======

    You just can’t make facts up….

  5. Joe Seamhead - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:39 PM

    8 hits, 3 BB’s, and one Braves error, but only 2 runs scored. Some of our guys have just got to do better with runners in scoring position. On Ohlendorf’s error Rendon is supposed to be backing up the play, but Shafer really exploited Rendon’s jogging after the ball and ended up on third on a bunt.

    Strasburg now moved back to Saturday.

    • David Proctor - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:41 PM

      Desmond was really the big culprit tonight. He had runners on 2nd and 3rd with 2 out twice and couldn’t drive them in either time.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:43 PM

      Honestly… I think it’s more than forearm soreness… And they just aren’t telling us what it is…

  6. NatsLady - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:42 PM

    I’m not saying we would have won this game if Davey had acted more promptly. 2-1 game, four scoreless innings is a lot to ask of the bullpen. But the momentum of the game changed completely with that second HR.

    OTOH, the offense just folded. Desi is absolutely on fumes, not to mention the hamstring. I’ll say again, part of this is on Davey for not having Danny here as a late inning defensive replacement–for example, YESTERDAY in the second game.

    • David Proctor - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:45 PM

      I actually think it was the bunt triple after the home run that swung the momentum. The home run, okay, it happens. But when that happened, I knew things were going south. Ohlendorf had to know to eat that ball, instead of doing what he did.

      Ended up not mattering anyway because Upton would’ve driven him in from first instead of third, but I still think it shifted the momentum.

    • Joe Seamhead - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:49 PM

      Did you see how many errors Danny had in Syracuse this year after he got sent down? I think Espinosa has more issues than lousy stats. He’s a head case, too. No thanks.

      • NatsLady - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:53 PM

        I saw. And how motivated do you think he’d be if he were called back? PLENTY. He already said he wanted to help out any way he could, bench, defensive replacement, whatever. This is a guy who is desperate to retrieve his reputation. The talent is still there–I’d take him in a minute. If the price is him being a super 2 and it’s the difference between postseason and not, it’s worth it. Post season means many millions to a team.

      • Section 222 - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:56 PM

        I seriously can’t believe we’re having this discussion. As if having Danny Espinosa on the bench could be the difference between the Nats making the post season or not. That’s crazy talk.

  7. pchuck69 - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:43 PM

    It was SO predictable what would happen with Ohlendorf but Davey still wasn’t prepared.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:45 PM

      Seems like we’ve seen this story a few times this year….

  8. emdash01 - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:46 PM

    Ohlendorf coming out for the 6th shouldn’t have happened, for sure. Or at the least he should’ve been pulled after giving up the homer to Uggla. He mostly gets tired around 75 pitches/5 innings, and it happened here.

    If nothing else, though, seeing the Braves and their fans so furious about this game was pretty entertaining. Unlike when that “punk” Bryce Harper argues with umpires, which when a rookie Braves pitcher does it he’s just rightfully putting the ump in his place. Heh.

    Not sure why Mattheus was trash-talking Freeman. I’d guess his comments before the series about looking forward to coming to DC and “having some fun” clinching the division here didn’t sit well with the team. Still shouldn’t have done it, though.

  9. Joe Seamhead - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:55 PM

    We just took two out of three from the team with the best record in baseball. Atlanta didn’t break out the champagne at Nats Park. I’m very thankful for that.

    • NatsLady - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:01 PM

      Me, too. Let them break it out in Chicago–or not. We have our own battles to fight.

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:04 PM

        Me 3…. I told my coworker earlier that we beat them yesterday with Haren was a surprise…. I’m glad for the series win….

        Now on to the fish…

  10. David Proctor - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:59 PM

    I know Espinosa had errors in Syracuse, but I don’t think that means anything at all. He’s proven he can play defense at the major league level. There are a number of things that can go into errors at the minor league level that may not be his fault.

    Having said that, didn’t many of Espinosa’s errors come at SS last year? I don’t remember hardly any at 2B, but I know he had quite a few at SS.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:06 PM

      Desi just looks gassed… Needs a day or 2 off….

  11. NatsLady - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:00 PM

    Look, we got 2 of 3 from the Barves throwing Haren, Roark and Ohlendorf out there. Now we gotta find out what is the story with Stras. Gotta sweep the Fish, sweep the Fish. A little warmer tomorrow night I hope for Gio, he doesn’t like the cold weather.

    • Joe Seamhead - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:12 PM

      What happened to the zany, goofball Gio of 2012 that was always smiling and cutting up?

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:18 PM

        I actually think the Biogenesis thing sobered him up some…

  12. Candide - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:05 PM

    Ohlendorf to the BP next season, as long relief. Makes the most sense, the way he pitches.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:11 PM

      So what about Stammen? Or are you alright with having 2 rightys as the long relief guys…

      • David Proctor - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:15 PM

        and Roark. As good as he’s been, it’s EXTREMELY premature to just pencil him into the rotation. The league needs to see him a couple times before we know what we have. We can’t possibly carry 3 long men. Stammen is a lock to make the team. I think Ohlendorf and Roark compete, and I think Roark wins that job.

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:20 PM

        Idk… I think you have to have a lefty long reliever *cough, cough* but I also think Mattheus is gone next year and maybe both Only and Roark stay….

      • emdash01 - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:34 PM

        Yeah, the need to sign a free agent for the 4th starter role. Both those guys are question marks – will Roark continue this level of success once he’s been more fully scouted? Jordan gives up a lot of line-drives/hard-hit balls, can he survive as a starter that way? Not to mention that, with Detwiler’s health questionable, they need as much starter depth as they can get, and him and Det both in the rotation makes the pool pretty shallow.

  13. David Proctor - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:08 PM

    There’s no time to being giving guys off. There are 10 games left. Barring a miracle, they’re going to have several months off. They can survive 10 more games.

    But yes, I agree Desi looks tired. He’s played in just about every game. That wears on you.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:16 PM

      But is Desi playing now hurting the team… I get what your saying but he was awful at the plate tonight and his D has been kinda suspect..

  14. Joe Seamhead - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:15 PM

    Nats Lady, where can you find team stats for runners left in scoring position?

  15. naterialguy - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:42 PM

    at the game tonight and was unfortunate enough to sit in front of the most classless family of braves fans I have ever experienced. Over this past year and a half I have gone from having a lot of respect for their franchise to losing them and their fans. Husband who’ve and two twenty something girls who would have offended a sailor with their language. Absolutely no place for such classless behavior. I went in tonight satisfied that we had won the series. Would have been a bonus if we had swept. But really wanted to see Span keep his steak alive. Had it not been for these cheap obnoxious Braves fans I would have enjoyed my evening. I know who I’ll be rooting for in October

    • naterialguy - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:43 PM

      loathing not losing

  16. rogieshan - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:48 PM

    If Desmond needs a day off, Davey has the option to use Rendon at SS and Lombo at 2nd, as he did earlier. Zach Walters is available in a pinch. Rewarding a player like Espinosa with a call up sends the wrong message to players who are more deserving.

    • NatsLady - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:53 PM

      We’ve seen Rendon at SS and it was NOT a success. Walters has a stone glove. Never mind “messages.” This is about WINNING.

  17. Section 222 - Sep 19, 2013 at 12:01 AM

    I said this upstream, but I think I’ll repeat it here I think. I can’t believe we’re actually having a discussion about Danny Espinosa. It’s just crazy to think that having him here could be the difference between the Nats making the playoffs or not. Ok fine, he can play defense. But he CANNOT HIT. Reward or no reward makes no difference. He couldn’t even hit in AAA. There is no way I want to see him anywhere near the Nats’ lineup card.

  18. NatsLady - Sep 19, 2013 at 6:27 AM

    Solano can’t hit either, that’s not the point. The point is if Desi needs a day off or a few innings off or the second game of a double header off you put a guy in there who will lock up the infield, and get hits from somewhere else.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB MN
WASHINGTON 86 63 -- 2
ATLANTA 75 75 11.5
MIAMI 73 76 13.0
NEW YORK 72 79 15.0
PHILADELPHIA 69 81 17.5
Through Monday's games

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TUE: Nats at Braves, 7:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Braves, 7:10 p.m.
THU: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
FRI: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Marlins, 1:10 p.m.
MON: OFF
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