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Nats double up on Braves, take two

Sep 18, 2013, 1:02 AM EDT

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

The Nationals entered Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Atlanta Braves with a unique range of potential outcomes.

Anytime you play two against a team in one day it’s possible to double up or come away with two quick defeats. But in this particular case, two losses would mean a NL East division crown for the Braves. Atlanta would clinch the division and overtake the defending champs right before their very eyes.

That possibility was something the Nats had considered, and they were determined to prevent it from happening.

“We definitely didn’t want to see that,” Denard Span said. “We didn’t want to see them jumping around on our field. They can do that somewhere else, not here in Washington.”

On a day that began with players reflecting on Monday’s tragic events at the nearby Navy Yard – and that saw them wear special U.S. Navy ballcaps during batting practice – the Nats took the field hoping to help those in Washington with a positive distraction.

They ended the day taking two from the Braves, their 80th and 81st wins of the season. The latter made sure 2013 would be, at the very least, equal to their second best year since moving to Washington, D.C.

Both wins, however, also brought their doubts along the way, especially their 6-5 victory in the 1:05 p.m. start.

The Nationals stormed out to an early lead with three quick runs off Braves’ lefty Mike Minor in the first inning. They saw Dan Haren escape a few scares and give them six innings of one-run ball. But then their lineup went ice cold – 18 straight batters retired at one point – and their bullpen lost its grip on the game.

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  1. Baseballswami - Sep 18, 2013 at 6:26 AM

    Lost all fios service- Internet, TV, during the eighth inning of the first game. Yup- missed all the good stuff. It’s back this morning, but I am sad to have missed it. Glad it happened, though. No clinching here.

  2. Joe Seamhead - Sep 18, 2013 at 7:06 AM

    Remember all the posts here referring to the lack of heart on this team? Maybe it won’t be enough, but they have certainly exhibited plenty of heart the past 3 weeks. I was so proud of their refusal to relinquish the NL East crown to the Braves here. What more can you say except GYFNG!!!

    • NatsNut - Sep 18, 2013 at 7:26 AM

      +1

      • Steady Eddie - Sep 18, 2013 at 7:45 AM

        +2 for Joe, +1 for NatsNut.

    • nats128 - Sep 18, 2013 at 7:51 AM

      Lets be real. Those were numerous posts from the same 3 trolls + Mick. Read past them.

      • Steady Eddie - Sep 18, 2013 at 8:06 AM

        Interesting how WODL particularly has disappeared with Span’s and the Nats’ streaks — and the O’s relative decline.

  3. nats128 - Sep 18, 2013 at 7:47 AM

    Did any of the beat writers get quotes from the Barves. Would be interested to hear there take on it all as they had a monumental breakdown and were gloating last week that they would be celebrating a clinch on the Nats field.

    To get 3 off of Kimbrel in a blown save and then to shut them out in the 2nd game of the doubleheader is like a reverse of what they did to the Nats on that April 12th weekend.

    There were many predictions before the series that cocky Barves pitchers might throw at Harper. May be a function of what happened to Jason Hayward or possibly bcuz of the shootings at the Navy Yard would be in such poor taste to escalate “violence” in the face of that.

    • MicheleS - Sep 18, 2013 at 8:00 AM

      Here is a link to the Atlanta story.

      http://www.ajc.com/news/sports/braves-shut-out-again-get-swept-in-doubleheader/nZzbW/

      • flnatsfan - Sep 18, 2013 at 8:09 AM

        Did you read the comments on this article? Sounds like the Braves fans are despairing…

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Sep 18, 2013 at 8:14 AM

        Michele, Dave somehow incorporated Spans and Daveys comments into his article but mostly benign quotes from Braves players and they’re not panicked yet.

        “We had the opportunity to keep their heads below water obviously, and we didn’t finish it up,” Braves second baseman Elliot Johnson said.

      • nats128 - Sep 18, 2013 at 8:20 AM

        Thanks for the link Michele. Freddy Gonzalez gives a little credit to Tanner Roark. Sounds like the Braves are mildly concerned about there playing. Luckily for them they have the Cubs this weekend.

      • natsfan1a - Sep 18, 2013 at 8:31 AM

        Speaking of the emotions of Braves fans…

        http://www.talkingchop.com/2013/9/17/4742832/nationals-and-the-roark-flood-braves-sweep-dh

      • laddieblahblah - Sep 18, 2013 at 8:33 AM

        If the Braves have lost 9 of their last 13, they can lose 8 of their next 11, while the Nats win out and steal the division title. The Braves look like a team that wants to implode. The Cubs took 2 of 3 from the Reds last week, so they can take 2 of 3 from the Braves this week.

        The Nats are playing like champs. Finally. And the Braves are just not the same without Hayward. Let’s win out and see what happens.

      • natsfan1a - Sep 18, 2013 at 8:34 AM

        Helpful tip: that blog’s game thread comments from yesterday could be interesting reading as well. You’re welcome.

        I wrote: Speaking of the emotions of Braves fans…

      • Candide - Sep 18, 2013 at 8:38 AM

        Ghost – the Braves may not be despairing, but the fans are, if the comments are any indication. They have a LOD there that makes ours sound like My Little Pony and Johnny Holliday rolled up into one big ball of happy.

        Let’s see. Fredi Gonzalez is an incompetent hack who should have been fired last year (even though he was a genius two months ago).

        Uggla is a disaster.

        Upton: worst FA signing ever.

        Even Kimbrel gets the fire hose turned on him.

        One ATL LODer says he’s officially hitting the panic button. Another says he expects this season to make everyone forget 2011’s epic collapse.

        Good times, good times.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Sep 18, 2013 at 8:49 AM

        Candide, they are spot on with regards to BJUpton. Same lousy player he was when he was in Tampa coupled with that great personality of his.

  4. Candide - Sep 18, 2013 at 7:57 AM

    This.

    • Candide - Sep 18, 2013 at 7:58 AM

      Disregard above.

      • Steady Eddie - Sep 18, 2013 at 8:08 AM

        No, you said it well. This, indeed!
        ;o)

      • Steady Eddie - Sep 18, 2013 at 8:13 AM

        No matter how it turns out, this is what we wanted. Some great late September moments.

        The rest would be great to hope for, but all gravy.

        (Weird expression. Not many gravies that I’d want, but…)

    • Candide - Sep 18, 2013 at 8:28 AM

      @ Steady Eddie – watched for your daughter, but there were 300 Nats Campers, and they were all lined up along the left field and center field walls, stretching from the Samuel Adams sign in front of the Braves bullpen all the way to the CF gate where the presidents come stumbling out of in the 4th inning. We were in 221; it was almost impossible to have been farther away from them and still be in the park.

      I took several pictures; she may be in the throng somewhere. If you want to email me at gilbertbp at comcast dot net, I’ll be happy to send them to you.

      • Steady Eddie - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:25 AM

        Thanks, Candide. Yeah, I was a little disappointed that they did get to walk around the warning track to where there were actual fans standing (as opposed to the Braves’ bullpen), but I guess they didn’t want them trampling in the foul lines (unlike the Racing Prezes, weiner dogs and other menagerie members?).

        She was all the way on the right side of the group and I did get some blurry telephoto shots of her that you can recognize, so there’s that.

        And she did have a great time, so that’s what’s important.

        As well, of course, as the game being mostly great, and zany (Span’s excursion) or “we’ll, it happens” (Onion’s line into a DP with Lombo running).

  5. Candide - Sep 18, 2013 at 8:01 AM
  6. dgourds - Sep 18, 2013 at 8:16 AM

    Great day yesterday–best of the season. But is anyone as pissed as I am about the decisions of Trent Jewett? That play with Span being thrown out at the plate could have cost us the game. There was 1 out! It was just foolish to try to sneak him in in a tight 1 run ballgame with our season on the line. Just stupid. And he’s made so many bad decisions this year. Bo Porter never made those mistakes (at least that I remember). I really hope he isn’t back next year.

    • flnatsfan - Sep 18, 2013 at 8:23 AM

      I don’t think Jewett’s decision was a bad one. Risky? Yes. But the Braves defense was lackadaisical. They had already fumbled the ball a few times. If their first baseman wouldn’t have thrown a bullet and the catcher gotten lucky with the tag, Span would have scored. Then we would be celebrating Jewett’s risky decision.

    • Joe Seamhead - Sep 18, 2013 at 8:33 AM

      I disagree about Bo Porter. He also made a bunch of Bozo decisions. Twice in one game he held runners at third when the batter hit sac flies deep enough that runners would have scored easily. As I said in a post yesterday, Bo was a good third base coach, but he wasn’t Mr. Flawless as many here seem to remember him. I agree that Jewitt has made a ton of overly agressive mistakes sending runners. In hindsight, he should have held Span, but it took a great throw from Freeman, and a terrific tag by Laird to get Span on a close play. When he kept Span moving along, the Braves were over along the first base line doing their best 3 Stooges routine that they are famous for doing in big games.

      • Candide - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:11 AM

        Dgourds – Porter didn’t take on the Toronto dugout. It was the Cubs, when Jamie Quirk yelled something unacceptably foul at him.

    • Candide - Sep 18, 2013 at 9:16 AM

      I’m of two minds on Jewett:

      1) He didn’t wave Denard home until after Uggla whiffed on his first attempt to throw the ball (which, BTW, should elbow its way right up to the top of this week’s MLB goof videos). He had a split second to appraise the situation and given the way the Braves were kicking the ball around the field, why not keep up the pressure? When you see a crack in a pane of glass, it can just take a tiny tap in the right place to cause a complete rupture. Not saying all that was going through Jewett’s mind, but you could make the argument.

      2) OTOH, having Span standing at third with only one out and RZimm/Werth/Harper coming up, you have to feel good about our chances. Last few weeks, our guys have been bringing in the RISPs, instead of stranding them the way they had all season. No reason to send Span.

      Funny how credit/blame is doled out on these plays. If Span scores, we all shout “huzzah!” and “praise be to Denard for good, aggressive, heads-up baseball!” (how’s THAT for a rousing cheer?) Instead he gets TOOTBLANed and we crucify Jewett. No love for third base coaches.

      • dgourds - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:11 AM

        There was lots of love for Bo Porter. He was the best–especially when he single-handed took on the Toronto dugout. I really miss him–I think his absence was a big reason the Nats lacked fire in the beginning of the season. He may not have been perfect at third base coach, but I don’t remember cringing at his bone head decisions like I do with Jewett. Yesterday Jewett was very late giving the wave home for Span–that’s why Span slowed down going into third. The fact that he almost did score doesn’t make his decision better. As FP said, with 2 outs, it’s a great move. With one out, it’s a mistake. If the Braves had tied the score and gone on to win by one, that mistake was the difference. Every game for the Nats is almost like an elimination game. We can’t have these types of mental errors–especially by coaches who should know how many outs there are. It’s bad baseball.

      • dgourds - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:13 AM

        Right–the Cubs–I knew they wore Blue!

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:22 AM

      We had a long-ish discussion discussion in the game thread about that, and fell into two camps: some thought it was a pointless and stupid risk, some thought it was properly aggressive and justified. A couple of minds did change in the process, apparently, but no consensus. I still think it was a good send, under the circumstances, but I don’t have any new arguments.

  7. Candide - Sep 18, 2013 at 9:21 AM

    BTW, Denard is halfway to Joe DiMaggio’s 56 games streak. Cunegonde asked, “If the Nats make the playoffs, do those games count towards the record?”

    “Shut up and watch the game,” I explained.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Sep 18, 2013 at 9:29 AM

      Halfway to DiMaggio! Is it any coincidence that when you take 1/2 of DiMaggio’s name you have GGio. GGio Denard!

  8. Faraz Shaikh - Sep 18, 2013 at 9:55 AM

    Great wins last night but unfortunately Reds did not lose. We may not make it to playoffs but we tried our best in this last month or so. I will be a bit disappointed but not as much as, had they ended their season below .500 or something.

    Positives to take away from this stretch are Span, Werth, and Ramos from hitters and Roark and Jordon from pitchers.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:07 AM

      Exactly, Faraz. Nats could win every remaining game, but would still need for the Reds to lose at least four. I’m still hopeful, but soberly realistic. No Kool-aid yet. Still, it’s been a good run for the past month or so. Keep it going and see what happens — this season and next.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:14 AM

        Unless braves go on to lose every game from now until end of season and Nats go on to win every game from now until end of season. could happen. :D

    • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:28 AM

      Yes, but… I can also conger up scenarios in which the Pirates fall out of the wild card. But those are somewhat like the ‘still several paths to victory’ articles you see toward the end of a political campaign — mostly wishful thinking and spin. Catching the Reds remains the ‘easiest’ option (using that term loosely) and the only one I can imagine happening. Although, to be clear, I’d be happy to be surprised and proved wrong.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:56 AM

        You are right. very tough to get into playoffs but let’s see where the season goes.

  9. jd - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:34 AM

    Actually to put it in perspective here what needs to happen:

    1) The Nats have to win a minimum of 10 games the rest of the way.

    2) one of Pittsburgh or Cincinnati has to dominate the other in their 6 game matchup (5 of 6 or 6 of 6).

    The Reds can lose to Houston or to the Mets at home but I wouldn’t count on it so if the Bucs and Reds split their series or if the Reds win 4 of 6 we are pretty much dead and no we are not catching the Braves.

  10. Theophilus T.S. - Sep 18, 2013 at 4:21 PM

    I’ll settle for jd’s scenario but right now the Nats just need to win five more games than the Rojos, six more than the Pirates. Not to quibble but 9 and 2 might do it, as might even 8-3. Right now, I think the pundits would predict at least one loss against the Braves (tonight) and one against the Cards but there is reason to wonder what incentive either the Cards or D-backs will have in the final week.

Archives

FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 96 66 --
ATLANTA 79 83 17.0
NEW YORK 79 83 17.0
MIAMI 77 85 19.0
PHILADELPHIA 73 89 23.0

NL POSTSEASON SCHEDULE

NL WILD CARD GAME
WED: Giants at Pirates, 8:07 p.m. (ESPN)

NLDS
FRI: Game 1, Pirates at Nats, 12:07 p.m.,
OR Giants at Nats, 3:07 p.m. (FS1)
SAT: Game 2, PIT/SF at Nats, 5:37 p.m. (FS1)
MON: Game 3, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (MLBN)
OCT. 7: Game 4, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (FS1)*
OCT. 9: Game 5, PIT/SF at Nats, TBA (FS1)*
*if necessary

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