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Instant analysis: Braves 3, Nats 0

Jun 19, 2014, 10:03 PM EDT

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GAME IN A NUTSHELL: If the Nationals hoped to open a big, 4-game series against the Braves on the right foot and begin to put to rest any questions about their ability to beat their NL East rivals, this wasn’t particularly the way to do it.

The Nats were shut out by Gavin Floyd, until the Maryland native was forced to depart in the seventh with swelling in his surgically repaired right elbow, then couldn’t muster anything against the Atlanta bullpen, totaling three hits on the night. Jordan Zimmermann tried to keep his team in the game but was done in by a 2-run fourth that was headlined by Chris Johnson’s RBI single to center. An insurance run off Jerry Blevins in the eighth only made a last-ditch rally less likely.

Thus the Nationals were beaten for the sixth time in seven games against the Braves this season, the 19th time in 26 head-to-head matchups over the last two seasons. They still hold a 1/2-game lead in the division, with three games to go in this weekend series. But the Atlanta monkey that has been on their backs for some time now is only growing larger.

HITTING LOWLIGHT: Credit must be given to Floyd, who for six innings was absolutely brilliant, especially with a slider that was untouchable all night. But it’s fair to question some of the Nationals’ approach against the right-hander, which could charitably be described as over-aggressive. Ian Desmond, in particular, chased perhaps a half-dozen breaking balls out of the strike zone, striking out twice and grounding out weakly another time. Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth also whiffed on sliders down and away. On a night when discipline was needed at the plate, the Nats showed little.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Zimmermann took the mound in the top of the first and stated his presence with authority, retiring the side on nine pitches, several of them 95-mph fastballs. Talk about a way to get a game started. He couldn’t quite keep that pace the rest of the night, but he was darn good throughout. The only hiccup: a fourth-inning stretch in which four straight Atlanta batters singled. A couple of them were squared up pretty good, but Johnson’s 2-run single up the middle on a 3-1 pitch simple was well-placed. Whatever the case, that was the lone blemish on Zimmermann’s pitching line, but it was enough to deal him yet another hard-luck loss. Despite allowing a scant three runs in 32 innings over his last four starts, the right-hander’s record during this span is 2-2.

KEY STAT: Over the last two seasons, the Nationals have a .231 winning percentage (9-30) against the Braves and Cardinals. Their winning percentage against everybody else is .588 (114-80).

UP NEXT: Game 2 of this 4-game series will see Stephen Strasburg taking the mound against a Braves club he hasn’t beaten in his last six head-to-head starts. Lefty Mike Minor gets the ball for Atlanta at 7:05 p.m.

  1. veejh - Jun 19, 2014 at 10:05 PM

    The ownage continues.SNAP out OF it!!!

  2. David Proctor - Jun 19, 2014 at 10:05 PM

    I shudder to think what the vitriol in this thread will be. If we’re going to declare the season over or continue to say we can’t beat the Braves, can we at least wait until the 4 game series is over? I’ll take this type of loss, as frustrating as it was, over the types of games we played against them before. We just got beat tonight, we didn’t beat ourselves with errors, baserunning errors, etc. We got outpitched (though Zim was great). It happens. We’re still in firt. Go get ‘em tomorrow.

  3. Danny - Jun 19, 2014 at 10:06 PM

    Not even my prescence in the park could change our luck. Sorry boys and gals.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 19, 2014 at 10:12 PM

      Mine neither… And I will be back tomorrow…. And SaturdAy and Sunday…

  4. natsfan18 - Jun 19, 2014 at 10:19 PM

    Really had them sweating it out there in the 9th with that 1 out walk down by 3

  5. scnatsfan - Jun 19, 2014 at 10:31 PM

    When does this team make the leap and be the bully of the division?

  6. sjm308 - Jun 19, 2014 at 10:33 PM

    Vitriol has not been nearly as bad as past years but I do understand the frustration. I continue to state that I don’t care which teams we beat to get to first place in the NL East at the end of Sept. but I also understand that we have to beat the Braves at sometime or another.

    Hard to believe that our entire offense just goes flat against these guys.

    I did not read the “in-game” thread but I am wondering what folks thought about Zimms many throws from left. I honestly did not see that many Braves taking advantage of his throws but I do have to admit that he just doesn’t look good throwing, no matter what the situation is. Has anyone seen him throw a ball on an actual straight line since he has been back? I watched him in warmups with Span on Tuesday and they were all lollipops. Just watch Rendon, Espinosa and Desmond even during the easy throws before each inning and the ball travels to LaRoche pretty damn quick.

    Hoping for better results tomorrow.

    Go Nats!!

    • dcwx61 - Jun 19, 2014 at 10:48 PM

      it’ll come back to bite ya, along come pennant race time. The anxious mind is a powerful thing. Ask the 2011 Braves
      I still think they will split this series.

    • Joe Seamhead - Jun 20, 2014 at 12:22 AM

      I missed the game tonight. Personal stuff. Lost on three hits to Gavin Floyd? Oh come now. My son grew up playing against Gavin and Mount St.Joe’s when they were both in high school.maybe Floyd dug down with a local contingency there to see him? Because seriously folks, he has been nothing more than an average pitcher as a pro. I haven’t looked at any thing other than the score, but looking ahead earlier, this was the game that I thought we would win

  7. NatsLady - Jun 19, 2014 at 10:33 PM

    I’ll be there for Fri, Sat, Sun. Also will be at the Brewers and Cubs games.

    As I said in the previous thread, if we were going to lose one, this was the one to lose (sorry, Jordan!). Needed to give Sori and Clip a break, because I expect a lot of close games in these two series (Barves, Brewers). The bullpen will have to be carefully managed. No off-day until a week from Sunday, and a double-header on Saturday in Chicago.

    Desi, who had 11 RBI in the last 12 games (so I’m not complaing, BUT), Desi needs to hit off-speed, or at least lay off.

    RZ is slumping. You may not realize it because his few hits have been key–but they have been FEW.

    If Ryan is the backup first baseman, and Frandsen can also play first base, then why is Greg Dobbs on this team????

    • David Proctor - Jun 19, 2014 at 10:41 PM

      RZ is having trouble elevating. There were numerous pitches yesterday that he normally drives that he was beating into the ground. Most of them went foul, but it was also the case during his fielder’s choice that tied the game. Same happened today when he hit into the double play. It was a 2-0 count and a good pitch to hit, but he hit it into the ground. I’m not sure the cause, but it’s something I’ve been noticing for a while.

      • dcwx61 - Jun 19, 2014 at 10:50 PM

        erectball disfunction ?

    • dcwx61 - Jun 19, 2014 at 10:49 PM

      I’ll be there Saturday to watch the Nats crush Julio down by the schoolyard

      • Eric - Jun 19, 2014 at 11:44 PM

        Nice one!

  8. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 19, 2014 at 10:40 PM

    Fractured elbow for Gavin Floyd

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 19, 2014 at 10:50 PM

      They say Joel Zumaya had the same fracture and never made it back. Sad.

      • RPrecupjr - Jun 20, 2014 at 4:14 PM

        There’s a little more to it than that, GOSM. Zumaya also had shoulder and hand injuries prior to the fracture, then tore his UCL and had Tommy John and that was it. The olecranon fracture was just one in a line of injuries.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 20, 2014 at 4:16 PM

        Gotcha, and thanksfor the research

  9. Nats fool - Jun 19, 2014 at 10:41 PM

    Just a very mental team. You can’t do anything about it unless you get rid of some of the batters with bad plate approaches. More mental fireworks in store tomorrow. Probably should bite the bullet now and start trading the head cases. We know them.

    • David Proctor - Jun 19, 2014 at 10:47 PM

      Yeah, start trading the guys that have you in first place. Brilliant plan. One could even say it was devised by a fool.

      • Nats fool - Jun 19, 2014 at 10:57 PM

        Admittedly a tough decision, but the team consistently underperforms based on what analytics would predict. This means they are very poor in high leverage situations. The Yankees and Braves are above 500 with negative run differentials. These are teams that win a higher proportion of close games, making up for the odd stinker from the sp. We will be paying a lot for these guys, and we still will not. It’s obvious by now.

      • David Proctor - Jun 19, 2014 at 10:58 PM

        “The Yankees and Braves are above 500 with negative run differentials.”

        This type of performance has been proven to be largely a fluke.

      • NatsLady - Jun 19, 2014 at 11:15 PM

        The Nats were at .500 with an approximately zero run differential until they had a few blowouts in the last couple of weeks. So I take it you would prefer if they DIDN’T have blowouts?? Blowouts are GOOD. They are “better” than one-run wins in that you can rest your bullpen and maybe even your regular starters. Blowouts mean that you are not dependent on bloop hits, etc., and you don’t go into extra innings.

        What I’m saying is, you WANT to “underperform” your run differential.

      • NatsLady - Jun 19, 2014 at 11:18 PM

        The thing is, you don’t want to BE in high leverage situations in the first place. If you can avoid the one-run and extra inning games by being on the right side of a lot of blowouts (and the Nats are) that is a good thing.

    • Danny - Jun 19, 2014 at 10:52 PM

      This guy only posts after a loss.

      • Nats fool - Jun 19, 2014 at 11:00 PM

        That should be “win.” We can’t win with this makeup.

    • dcwx61 - Jun 19, 2014 at 10:52 PM

      Oh if only we could do so with blog posts

  10. NatsLady - Jun 19, 2014 at 10:47 PM

    X-rays show that Gavin Floyd fractured his elbow.

    • Sec 3 My Sofa - Jun 19, 2014 at 10:56 PM

      Ow. That sucks, even for the Braves.

      • Eric - Jun 19, 2014 at 11:29 PM

        +1. Hate to see a guy endure an injury that threatens his career. Call me a softie, but I might even feel bad for McCann if he were to endure something like Posey or Ramos did.

  11. Nats fool - Jun 19, 2014 at 11:22 PM

    You most definitely don’t want to underperform your run differential. That means you are losing the close games. You can only win one game at a time.

    • David Proctor - Jun 19, 2014 at 11:25 PM

      One run games are largely fluke. You can’t predict them. The Orioles had an unbelievable record in 1 run games in 2012 then not so great in 2013 with the same cast. Same with RISP numbers. Look at the Cardinals. Record setting in 2013, mediocre in 2014. There are things you can control in baseball, but those are not it.

      • Nats fool - Jun 19, 2014 at 11:41 PM

        First, it’s baseball so there is an element of chance. But the sample sizes for Braves and Cards games are large enough now to know that chance is not all that’s at play. It was our record against these two teams that kept us out of the playoffs last year and it is highly likely that it is our choking that will keep us out this year as well. Last, the Cards are good and will win their division.

    • NatsLady - Jun 19, 2014 at 11:37 PM

      Not true. Simply, not true. There is no difference in the standings between winning 10 one-run games and winining 10 blowouts. None. But there is a lot of difference in how you manage your bullpen, lineups, etc. Stay away from the one-run games… build up leads early and often.

      • Nats fool - Jun 19, 2014 at 11:47 PM

        A 15 to 1 blowout followed by three tense 2-run losses still gives you a .250 record. Sure, you get to rest the bp on the blowout, but now your team is in a hole. How many of those games would have been won had you not chased balls out of the strike zone like Desmond does. At least you force the pitcher to come to you.

  12. destcl - Jun 19, 2014 at 11:38 PM

    The Nationals don’t have the mental makeup now — if they ever will — to compete at an elite level. Look at the Braves. They lost Gavin Floyd tonight, just the latest blow to their starting pitching staff. Many of their high-priced position players are performing poorly. Yet they just play on, without the excuses, without wailing “Wait till we’re back at full strength,” without the constant drama we get from the Nationals. The Nats are great on paper, but ever since October 12, 2012, they lack the mental toughness to stack up to opponents they fear. It’s that simple. The answer isn’t simple, but the problem is.

    • David Proctor - Jun 19, 2014 at 11:41 PM

      You do realize that the Nationals have a better record than the supposedly mental tough Atlanta Braves, right?

    • NatsLady - Jun 19, 2014 at 11:43 PM

      WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG.

      The Nats are in first place. They are in first place DESPITE all the injuries. GIve this “mental” stuff a REST!! The Nats will be marching down Constitution Avenue and people will say they are “mental” because they couldn’t get ahold of Pennsylvania Avenue for the parade.

      If you aren’t enjoying the push and shove of a tight penant race then too bad for you.

  13. NatsLady - Jun 19, 2014 at 11:48 PM

    I think a lot of these people who claim the Nats aren’t “mentally” tough are projecting their own failures on to the Nats.

    It’s a long season. The Tigers are in second place, the Cards are in second place, the Giants have lost 8 of 10 and their lead is cut to 4 games.

    Meanwhile the Nats just never say die. They get swept by the Cards, come home and beat the not-so-bad Astros, beat their best pitcher, and then come back from down 4-2 and 5-3 to win in the 100 degree heat.

    • destcl - Jun 20, 2014 at 9:08 AM

      NatsLady, what an odd tool to use in trying to persuade: insulting other people.

      The Braves do more with less. The Nats do less with more.

      It is indeed a long season, and when we reach the point where it is lost, when they’ve been mathematically eliminated, I expect them to go on a long winning tear that will allow them to beat their chests and say they didn’t quit, that they never give up, that they’ve restored their honor.

      But no, they don’t quit. They choke. I’m sorry, I wish it weren’t so, I hate it, but it is a fact.

  14. habs3 - Jun 19, 2014 at 11:51 PM

    People who are critical of the team should be allowed to post here.

    With respect to tonight’s game it was clear that we did everything right. Their pitchers are just better than our hitters.

    We should play the same way tomorrow. However we should not be too disappointed if we lose since it is becoming clear that on average our hitters are inferior to Atlanta’s pitchers. It is not the team’s fault.

    The same can be said of St Louis who has a stronger pitching staff than Atlanta.

    • David Proctor - Jun 19, 2014 at 11:58 PM

      I don’t mind people being critical of the team, I mind them showing up only when we lose. If you want to be upset after a loss fine, but enjoy the wins too. People who don’t do that strike me as trolls. There are a number of posters who come out of the woodwork only after losses and make grand proclamations about how horrible the team is. It happened in 2012 when we won 98 games for goodness sake. It’s simply illogical.

    • NatsLady - Jun 20, 2014 at 12:04 AM

      I wouldn’t say we did everything right. I’m as frustrated as the next person with Desi’s approach and with whatever is going on with Zim, etc. I’m not at all convinced that Zim can throw any better from LF than from third base, but luckily, in left field he doesn’t have to throw as often. It’s clear that when we face a tough righty is when we miss Harper in the lineup a lot.

      Once JZ gave up the two runs, we needed a “hole” in the ATL pitching to break through and it just wasn’t there, even after Floyd got hurt. This is the wrong game to be giving up on the team, the wrong kind of loss. There wasn’t anything “mental” about this loss, there weren’t errors in the field or on the basebaths. I don’t get the moaning and groaning, but, yeah, feel free. Peace out.

  15. scmargenau - Jun 20, 2014 at 8:00 AM

    I agree with the mental comments to extent. Specifically, with other issues:

    -desi hitting approach
    -everything espi does – he’s a minor leaguer who brings ev1 down. If my kids get irritated with him
    -Zim – he’s a DH at best that we can’t unload. A hole anywhere we put him. (And I love the guy)
    -det – head case and overall selfish, up disciplined dude. Plz trade
    -clip / sori – u guys do realize they will let u down when it matters right?
    -MW – he’s dull. Disaster hire
    - Ramos can’t stay healthy. Stop digging for two!
    -span. Wouldn’t start anywhere else. A low obp guy who is a streaky hitter at best

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ATLANTA 55 46 1.0
NEW YORK 48 53 8.0
MIAMI 47 52 8.5
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