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Game 5: Braves at Nats

Apr 5, 2014, 3:36 PM EDT

Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER

There’s no such thing as a must-win game on April 5. There simply isn’t. Now, having made that disclaimer, the Nationals sure would like to win tonight’s game against the Braves. Not because it would have any dramatic effect on the NL East standings less than one week into the season. But because another loss to Atlanta would leave the Nats needing to win tomorrow to avoid a sweep and perhaps would leave people with this team beginning to doubt its ability to beat its chief division rival.

In that regard, the Nationals are happy to have Stephen Strasburg on the mound today making his second start of the young season. Strasburg got off to a shaky start in New York on Monday but then made some key adjustments and wound up pitching six strong innings, striking out 10. He’s been less-than-perfect against Atlanta in the past, going 3-4 with a 3.68 ERA in 12 career starts, making the Braves the only team he’s faced more than two times and has a losing record against.

Fellow Opening Day starter Julio Teheran is back on the mound for Atlanta, and he’ll face his old pal Bryce Harper in the first inning. Harper is back up in the 2-spot tonight, with Matt Williams hoping that will spark the young outfielder to get his swing going.

Lots of updates to come, so please check back…

ATLANTA BRAVES at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where:
 Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, XM 89, MLB.com
Weather: Partly cloudy, 56 degrees, Wind 14 mph LF to RF

NATIONALS
CF Denard Span
LF Bryce Harper
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
3B Ryan Zimmerman
SS Ian Desmond
2B Anthony Rendon
C Jose Lobaton
RHP Stephen Strasburg

BRAVES
RF Jason Heyward
CF B.J. Upton
1B Freddie Freeman
3B Chris Johnson
LF Justin Upton
2B Dan Uggla
C Ryan Doumit
SS Andrelton Simmons
RHP Julio Teheran

UMPIRES
HP Jim Joyce (cc)
1B Doug Eddings
2B Marvin Hudson
3B Cory Blaser

6:55 p.m. — We just had our first national anthem of the season sung by the one and only D.C. Washington. This is now officially a good night at the ballpark, no matter what transpires from this point on.

7:06 p.m. — And we are underway on a windy, 51-degree Saturday night in the District. Good crowd still finding their way to their seats as Stephen Strasburg fires ball one outside to Jason Heyward.

7:13 p.m. — Well, whatever velocity questions there were about Strasburg on Monday in New York appear to be a thing of the past. He opened the evening by striking out Heyward on a 90 mph fastball, then got B.J. Upton flailing at a 90 mph slider. Yes, a 90 mph slider. Mercy. Strasburg did issue a two-out walk to Freddie Freeman and then a bloop single to Chris Johnson, but he finished strong by getting Justin Upton (who received an, um, warm welcome from the crowd) to ground into a forceout, ending a scoreless top of the first.

7:28 p.m. — Wow, quite an eventful bottom of the first. The good: Denard Span drew a 4-pitch walk to get things started. The bad: Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth each struck out, with Harper inexplicably bunting on an 0-1 count. The really good: Adam LaRoche destroyed a 2-2 pitch from Julio Teheran into the third deck down the right field line. Yes, the THIRD deck. That’s Adam Dunn country up there, a spot very few guys have reached in the 6-plus years since this ballpark opened. That deserves a Sweet Fancy Moses! It’s 2-0 Nats after one.

7:45 p.m. — Nothing doing for either side in the second inning, though the Nats did make Teheran work, with Strasburg even battling during a 2-out at-bat before striking out looking. We head to the third, still 2-0 Nats.

8:00 p.m. — In a very short amount of time, Strasburg has really developed some serious confidence in his new slider. He just used it again to strike out Chris Johnson in a key situation, with two on and two out in the third. He now has four strikeouts in three innings, with the Nats still ahead 2-0. By the way, I did some research on ESPN’s Hit Tracker site, which plots every single home run hit in every ballpark, and as best as I can tell, only one other player has ever reached the third deck at Nationals Park since it opened in 2008. That would be Adam Dunn, who hit this bomb on April 23, 2010. Looks like that one bounced off the facade of the upper deck, so LaRoche’s appears to be the only one that actually landed in the third deck.

8:17 p.m. — Uh-oh, Zimmerman just tried to make a routine throw to first, one that would’ve gotten Strasburg out of the top of the fourth, and wound up throwing a lollipop that sailed past a lunging LaRoche. Zim’s second error of the season brought home one run. And when Teheran blooped an RBI single to right moments later, another unearned run that was a direct result of Zim’s throw. This is a thing again, folks, and it’s not pretty. 2-2 game in the middle of the fourth.

8:50 p.m. — And things got much worse in the top of the fifth. Not for Zimmerman, who wasn’t involved at all. But for Strasburg, who was beaten around by the Braves and wound up getting the hook after only 4 1/3 innings. Matt Williams didn’t have a choice, the way things were going. Strasburg allowed six of eight batters to reach after the Zimmerman error, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say he melted down as a result of the fielding gaffe. He had only one clean inning the entire night, and the Braves kind of nickel-and-dimed him in the fifth. A poor decision by Harper to throw to the plate when he had little chance also contributed and led to another unearned run. So Strasburg only is charged with three of the six runs he allowed tonight. Whatever the case, it’s now a 6-2 Braves lead in the middle of the fifth.

9:06 p.m. — Just when it looked like the Nats might have something cooking in the bottom of the fifth, they caught a bad break. With runners on the corners and one out, Harper smoked a line drive to center, the best he has struck a ball in five games so far. Unfortunately, it was directly at B.J. Upton, who then fired a strike to the plate to nail a tagging Lobaton and end the inning. So it remains 6-2 after five, and there’s more news as the top of the sixth begins. Ross Detwiler is in to pitch. Danny Espinosa is at second base, and Anthony Rendon has shifted to third. So Ryan Zimmerman is out of the game, and it’s not part of a double-switch. That would seem to suggest either he’s injured or Matt Williams simply believed he needed to be removed. Either way, it’s not good.

9:24 p.m. — A laborious top of the sixth for Detwiler, who loaded the bases on two singles and a walk. But the lefty got out of the jam unscathed. Barely. It remains 6-2, and the Nats are running out of time to mount a rally against Teheran before they have to take their hacks at the Braves’ bullpen.

9:38 p.m. — The Nationals can’t say they haven’t had chances to get back into this game. They’ve put the leadoff man on base in five of six innings so far. And they put the first two men on in each of the last two innings. Yet they haven’t scored since LaRoche’s towering homer in the first. They’re now 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position after Espinosa lined out hard to left, Desmond popped out to first and Rendon struck out swinging with two on in the sixth. Still 6-2 Atlanta.

10:00 p.m. — Not much to add at this point. We’ve moved to the eighth. It’s still 6-2 Braves. Jerry Blevins has a cool choice of walk-in songs: “Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones. Sorry, that’s all I got right now.

10:15 p.m. — Another strikeout for Harper, who is 0-for-4 tonight. For the season, he’s now 3-for-21 with one walk, 10 strikeouts, zero extra-base hits and zero RBI. I would not be surprised at all if he gets tomorrow off vs. Braves lefty Alex Wood.

10:29 p.m. — Last chance for the Nats, who still trail 6-2 heading to the bottom of the ninth.

10:42 p.m. — And that’s the ballgame. Nats lose 6-2. They’ve dropped two straight to the Braves, 15 of 21 dating back to last season. Taylor Jordan vs. Alex Wood tomorrow afternoon.

101 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. Eric - Apr 5, 2014 at 3:41 PM

    sjm, 222, et al:

    http://prettyfrickenbueno.wordpress.com/whos-going/his-her-ni-bbs/

    See you tonight!

    • sjm308 - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:05 PM

      Eric
      Waited by104 until 6:50

      • Eric - Apr 7, 2014 at 2:43 PM

        Sorry I missed you! I was a little late getting to my seat :(.

  2. veejh - Apr 5, 2014 at 3:55 PM

    Can’t believe Braves keep batting BJ 2nd.

  3. RickH - Apr 5, 2014 at 4:01 PM

    C’mon, Nats!!!

  4. Doc - Apr 5, 2014 at 4:05 PM

    Bryce can do a lot of things that a #2 hitter is expected to do.

    But I still would like Harps further down in the lineup, and my guy ARen in #2.

    Matty plays the lineup like it’s a video baseball game!

    Henely needs to watch when he sends ALR hottfooting it home from 3B.

    • Sec 3 My Sofa - Apr 5, 2014 at 5:28 PM

      But I liked Henley, even after he left The Eagles.

      “I know you’re still afraid to rush into anything
      But there’re just so many summers
      And just so many springs”

  5. Drew - Apr 5, 2014 at 4:18 PM

    Also of note: At 5 p.m. Giolito starts for Hagerstown.

    • letswin3 - Apr 5, 2014 at 6:05 PM

      Nice, but it’s probably about 30 degrees up there.

  6. Another_Sam - Apr 5, 2014 at 4:24 PM

    I’m trying to resist seeing yesterday as picking up right where they left off last year.

  7. David Proctor - Apr 5, 2014 at 4:26 PM

    Mark Zuckerman ‏@ZuckermanCSN 32s
    Gio Gonzalez is the latest #Nats player to come down with stomach virus. Seeing doctor today, going home early. Sked to pitch Tues.

    • texnat1 - Apr 5, 2014 at 4:29 PM

      Ugh. Get some sanitzer in the locker room stat!

  8. DaveB - Apr 5, 2014 at 4:36 PM

    Looks like MW is hoping that the top of the order comes up at the end of the game, and wants the Braves to bring in Avilan or Thomas instead of Kimbrel or Carpenter.

  9. NatsNut - Apr 5, 2014 at 4:36 PM

    It sounds like norovirus which I heard lasts days and includes fever and really bad V & D. As opposed to food poisoning, which hits quick and hard. Any doctors or nurses in here know more about that?

  10. NatsNut - Apr 5, 2014 at 4:39 PM

    Speaking of which, I can’t express how bummed i was that it appeared Zimmermann actually WAS sick. I was so tickled with the idea of a team-wide conspiracy to keep the Braves on edge. I went to the game thinking, “oh, his fever broke at midnight? How conveeeenient!” haha. Oh well. I guess it just means Z’nn is the beast I thought he was, pitching 5 solid after being that sick.

    Go Nats! Win Games!

  11. Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 5, 2014 at 4:40 PM

    I wasn’t angry after the game end…. Disappointed, sure… But angry, no….

    Until I was watching MLB network (or some other sports network) and saw Adam LaRoche running into a sure-fire out after that dumb send… Then I got ticked beyond comprehension…..

    So I ended up going to be at 7 PM… On a Friday night… Smh

    But today is a new day… Let’s move on and win tonight’s game…

    GO NATS!!!!! #beatdabarves!!!

    • NatsNut - Apr 5, 2014 at 5:05 PM

      This hilarious quote from Kilgore about that play at WaPo had me rolling…

      “LaRoche has lasted 11 years in the majors on the strength of many skills, but speed is not one of them.”

  12. Eugene in Oregon - Apr 5, 2014 at 5:11 PM

    In retrospect, and in a 162-game season, I don’t have a problem with one bad send so long as the 3B coach learns from it.

  13. DB69 - Apr 5, 2014 at 5:26 PM

    Sure, in a numerical sense this is not a must-win, but this series is most definitely must-win in other respects. A sweep would put us in the same position as last year.

    • veejh - Apr 5, 2014 at 5:35 PM

      Stop it.

    • Hiram Hover - Apr 5, 2014 at 5:44 PM

      DOOOOM!!!!!!!!!

  14. Sec 3 My Sofa - Apr 5, 2014 at 5:29 PM

    SO … you’re telling me, “it’s early”?

    (ducking)

    • NatsNut - Apr 5, 2014 at 5:57 PM

      Like!

  15. Another_Sam - Apr 5, 2014 at 5:44 PM

    Does anyone think that the media is being too kind to Zimmerman, regarding his throwing?

    • Hiram Hover - Apr 5, 2014 at 5:50 PM

      What exactly do you want them to be doing that they’re not?

      • Another_Sam - Apr 5, 2014 at 5:50 PM

        No one is saying he can’t throw a lick.

      • NatsNut - Apr 5, 2014 at 5:56 PM

        Lots of space has been dedicated to his 2-year throwing woes. It’s not like it would be a big scoop to say he can’t throw a lick.

    • Hiram Hover - Apr 5, 2014 at 5:57 PM

      I don’t think “being too kind” and “declining to engage in gross hyperbole” are precisely the same thing.

  16. stoatva - Apr 5, 2014 at 5:56 PM

    Giolitto getting his hair mussed a bit in his Hagerstown debut. 2 run HR in first, another run in second.

    Overrated, obviously. [ducks]

  17. David Proctor - Apr 5, 2014 at 5:58 PM

    The media’s job isn’t to publicly flog Zimmerman for his throwing woes. His issues have been well-reported. What more can they or should they do?

    • veejh - Apr 5, 2014 at 6:32 PM

      Next step….tarred and feathered

      • Eric - Apr 5, 2014 at 6:44 PM

        Run ‘im right off the third base line!

  18. RickH - Apr 5, 2014 at 7:27 PM

    ADAM LAROCHE!!!!!!!!

  19. Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 5, 2014 at 7:27 PM

    Nice…. Lets do this…

  20. veejh - Apr 5, 2014 at 7:28 PM

    yay! a lead!

  21. Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 5, 2014 at 7:40 PM

    Mark pulling out the SFM already… Lol, I love it..l

  22. Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 5, 2014 at 7:46 PM

    As long as the blue gives those pitches to SS, I will be cool…

  23. unkyd59 - Apr 5, 2014 at 7:58 PM

    Geeze… Turns out a 90 MPH slider can be quite effective….

  24. Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:17 PM

    Just embarrassing and unfortunate….

  25. Danny - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:18 PM

    Groundhog Day, good lord.

  26. secretwasianman - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:18 PM

    Wow, Nats will never beat these guys as long as they make errors and give up hits to the pitcher.

  27. manassasnatsfan - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:20 PM

    Is it my imagination or does Zim make more errors when Straw is pitching?

    • Nats128 - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:26 PM

      Not your imagination.

  28. secretwasianman - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:20 PM

    Luv the Nats. I think they will be good. But we have to get Zimm off of third, just pathetic.

  29. David Proctor - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:20 PM

    I feel so bad for Zim. I really do. I know people will hate him for his throws, but it’s not like he’s not trying or putting in the effort.

    • veejh - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:21 PM

      It looks like it’s all mental. He’s scared of throwing a bad toss, thinks about it, then does it.

      • Hiram Hover - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:25 PM

        Looked to me like he was making the effort at an overhand throw on that one.

  30. veejh - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:20 PM

    Seriously, something needs to be done about Zim at 3rd.

    • Nats128 - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:24 PM

      The error brings in 2 runs and lots of extra pitches by Stras. I doubt Zims offense can cover him for his poor defense.

    • Hiram Hover - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:24 PM

      Hard to move him to 1B when ALR is hitting bombs like tonight’s.

  31. secretwasianman - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:24 PM

    Nice inning Zimm

  32. manassasnatsfan - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:25 PM

    Zim could make up for error, but doesn’t

  33. manassasnatsfan - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:28 PM

    Come on guys hit the ball solid. This pitchers is not as good as your making him out to be.

    • secretwasianman - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:41 PM

      Stras always struggles after an error. He never picks his guys up. He’s 3rd pitcher on this team.

  34. secretwasianman - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:29 PM

    The Braves can only cost us 19 losses. Nats still go 143 and 19.

    • manassasnatsfan - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:01 PM

      We would have a better than the Braves if neither team played each other.

  35. secretwasianman - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:31 PM

    Definition of insanity. Doing the same thing over and over even if it fails, Zimm at 3 rd base,

    • paulfortier - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:34 PM

      Oh come on Zimm. Secret, I totally agree with you. It a such to have such a poor arm at third base.

  36. paulfortier - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:36 PM

    It a shame to have a arm like his (that’s what I meant)

  37. DB69 - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:37 PM

    The question is whether Zimm is costing more in defense than he helps offensively. He probably should be platooned at first. Wow, what a bad situation for the organization.

  38. paulfortier - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:38 PM

    I totally agree with you DB.

  39. secretwasianman - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:46 PM

    Stras is overrated and the braves are a better team then the Nats. Let’s just hope the rest of the league can beat the Braves for us. Good night all.

  40. Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:46 PM

    Blame Ryan all you want… But SS just blew up… And had no composure… One thing goes wrong and people just lose their focus…

  41. veejh - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:48 PM

    Stras’ lack of composure is his downfall as a pitcher. Those Zim errors make his blood boil.

    • manassasnatsfan - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:05 PM

      No doubt Stras is his own worse enemy. Once an error occurs things to often goes bad.

  42. kirbs3256 - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:51 PM

    The great thing about baseball is, even if we lose all 19 games to the Braves, we can still be a 90 win team.

    • manassasnatsfan - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:19 PM

      Indeed. But way not just beat the Braves

  43. Another_Sam - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:51 PM

    “You’re right, Another_Sam. He can’t throw a lick.”

  44. unkyd59 - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:55 PM

    Well… We’ve no reason to believe Zim has any arm/shoulder issues… Very sad to think it’s a head problem… How long before Rendon and Espi are playing everyday….?

  45. Hiram Hover - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:58 PM

    Ball took a bad hop in front of Justin there. I’m surprised he didn’t throw his hands up.

  46. knoxvillenat - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:59 PM

    If I’m MW I’m seriously thinking about platooning RZ and ALR. These throwing errors just can’t be tolerated.

  47. Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:07 PM

    Ball was not hit deep enough for that send… No no no…

  48. manassasnatsfan - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:07 PM

    This third base coach’s decision making is not good either. Quit sending slow runners home

    Brendon at third now. Interesting.

    • smatt1001 - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:13 PM

      I’m with you there. I don’t think we have to play perfect baseball every night but all of these little things pile up.

  49. smatt1001 - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:09 PM

    Zimm injured or MW just trying something new since their down four?

    • manassasnatsfan - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:16 PM

      My goodness even Espi can’t field a hot one that for him is routine.

    • manassasnatsfan - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:17 PM

      A benching is my guess.

      • smatt1001 - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:28 PM

        I kind of hope it’s a clear you head benching as opposed to injury.

      • smatt1001 - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:54 PM

        That should be your not you. Makes me wish WordPress allowed editing.

        Wonder if the shoulder is barking or if its all mental at this point.

      • veejh - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:44 PM

        In summation…..bleh.

  50. Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:19 PM

    If the Nats would stop shooting themselves in the dang foot, it’s like we give/hand away wins to the Braves… That’s what’s frustrating…

  51. manassasnatsfan - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:28 PM

    Take away the Braves game we shoot yourself occasionally. Vs Braves we do it more often then we don’t

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:33 PM

      That’s the problem… No excuse for Strass to melt down as bad as he did… It was terrible… All I was screaming was throw strikes… And he wasn’t…

      He has got to learn to overcome adversity…

      No excuse for Ryan air-mailing it… That was terrible but SS has to pick his teammate up and do his job..

  52. DB69 - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:33 PM

    I like to see the irony in life. When Zimm signed the albatross around the organization’s neck, he wanted to be able to play meaningful ball in September. Now that he has the chance, he gets the yips. He should be sent down to work out the issues. Even if we platoon him, we lose offense. Longer term, he needs to be with an AL team, but his stats don’t justify DH and no one will assume the contract. This is a pretty bad day for Washington baseball. I think I need to check out for a while. I love my Nats but it has been brutal since the 2012 NLDS.

  53. sunshinebobby - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:52 PM

    Wow. Somebody actually is suggesting sending FoF down “to work on the issues.”

    Legionnaires of Doom hits a new record low.

    It’s April 5th, people. Relax.

    Now, somebody, please pass me the bourbon and Maalox…

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:59 PM

      You know people live and die by each loss and each win… Two gifts the braves… Today and yesterday…

      Hopefully we can get 1 tomorrow and when we go there in a couple of weeks, take care of business..

      • manassasnatsfan - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:02 PM

        Every game counts equally. I hate losses in April more as they seem to set the stage for the first part of the season.

  54. secretwasianman - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:54 PM

    Like to bring up comments in here from last April. It’s early it’s early. UGHHHHHHH his seems all too familiar.

  55. manassasnatsfan - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:58 PM

    Losses in April are = to losses in September

  56. manassasnatsfan - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:00 PM

    White flag thrown. Hairston hitting against a righty.

  57. secretwasianman - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:01 PM

    Hey, not to upset anyone, but we get to play these guys again next weekend.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:04 PM

      We play them 17 more times… If the Nats can stop gift wrapping wins for them, it will be a different story…

  58. philipd763 - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:05 PM

    Nats pitchers miss Ramos big time! Nats offense misses Ramos big time, he’s their best clutch hitter. He is to the Nationals what Yadier Molina is to the Cardinals. Nats didn’t start winning consistently last year until he returned to the lineup. I fear the same result this year.

  59. Another_Sam - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:06 PM

    “You’re right, Anoyher_Sam. He cat’t throw a lick.”. But I sure don’t take any pleasure from this sad situation.

  60. manassasnatsfan - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:10 PM

    Note to Zim; check how Brendon threw to third.

  61. manassasnatsfan - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:13 PM

    Thomas went to Kellem High. Same as Ryan Zim went to.

  62. manassasnatsfan - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:14 PM

    Why is Harper swing at so many balls.

  63. David Proctor - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:25 PM

    Well, at least ALR is off to a good start.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:31 PM

      Another gift-wrapped game for the braves… Zimm with the error (if he is hurt, which I saw a tweet saying he was, then I get it) but SS just blew up… And then we conce again could do nothing with RISP…

  64. Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:44 PM

    Frustrating

  65. veejh - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:45 PM

    Bleh

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