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Instant Analysis: Nats 4, Braves 1

Jun 22, 2014, 4:29 PM EST

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

GAME IN A NUTSHELL: In a season of 162 games, it’s not often a team experiences ups and downs as dramatic as the Nats have over the last four days. Entering their four-game series with the rival Braves, the Nationals lost their first two in frustrating fashion, briefly losing their grip on first place in the NL East. Now, two days later, the Nats are back on top thanks in large part to starting pitchers Doug Fister and Tanner Roark.

It was Roark’s turn in the Nationals’ 4-1 win over the Braves on Sunday, a victory that earned them a series split and a game-and-a-half lead in the division. Roark tossed 5 1/3 innings with just a run allowed, four hits, three walks and three strikeouts. He continued his success against the Braves, now boasting a 2.35 ERA in 23 total innings (5 appearances).

Roark had the benefit of some early offense from his teammates who knocked Braves starter Ervin Santana for two runs in the first inning. They got some insurance in the fifth and eighth innings with two more runs and took care of the Braves in convincing fashion before a big series at the NL-best Milwaukee Brewers starting Monday.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: The Nationals got off to a great start with two quick runs in the first inning to establish an early lead. The rally started with Anthony Rendon walking with one out. He then moved to second on a Jayson Werth single and scored one at-bat later on an Adam LaRoche single to center field. Ryan Zimmerman then hit a long flyball to center field to get Werth home from third on a sacrifice fly.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Roark gave the Nationals just what they needed on Sunday, only allowing one run in 5 1/3 innings. He kept the Braves scoreless into the sixth inning and by then was working with a three-run lead.

Roark was even able to limit the damage done by Freddie Freeman, a noted Nats killer. Freeman reached base in each of his three at-bats against Roark. The first and third were on singles and the second was on a fielding error by Adam LaRoche. Only in his third at-bat did he eventually score, notching the only run of the afternoon off the Nationals’ pitcher.

Freeman has long tormented the Nats, so to have him get on base three times but otherwise have a quiet afternoon, says something about Roark’s ability to stay in control, even while conceding a bit to the opponent’s best player.

DEFENSIVE HIGHLIGHT: Ian Desmond made one of the best defensive plays by a National all season in the top of the second inning. Chris Johnson hit a hard groundball up the middle with two outs, forcing Desmond to field it on a full sprint running into the outfield. He turned on the run and made an off balance throw that connected perfectly with LaRoche at first. LaRoche didn’t even have to move to catch the ball, it was right on the numbers.

KEY STAT: Span is now hitting for a higher average (.274 to .271) and has a better slugging percentage (.402 to .386) than Werth.

UP NEXT: The 39-35 Nationals now head to Milwaukee to battle the Brewers, one of 2014’s most surprising teams and owners of the National League’s best record. Gio Gonzalez (3-4, 4.85) will make his second start since returning from left shoulder inflammation. Pitching for the Brew Crew will be right-hander Matt Garza (4-4, 4.02).

  1. Joe Seamhead - Jun 22, 2014 at 4:30 PM

    Yeah, that Soriano fellow sure sucks, eh?

    • adcwonk - Jun 22, 2014 at 10:16 PM

      And so does Fister. And so does “Span = Nyjer”

      Sheesh . . . ;-)

      • adcwonk - Jun 22, 2014 at 10:16 PM

        And Clip, too, while you’re at it.

  2. MicheleS - Jun 22, 2014 at 4:31 PM

    WOOOOOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! 1 1/2 game lead is secure. I love when the Nats Win.. but especially against the BARVES

    • Joe Seamhead - Jun 22, 2014 at 4:31 PM

      You got that right, MS!

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 22, 2014 at 4:47 PM

      +1

      • npb99 - Jun 22, 2014 at 4:59 PM

        +2 A great weekend it was.

  3. Joe Seamhead - Jun 22, 2014 at 4:31 PM

    Nothing left behind but carnage!

  4. David Proctor - Jun 22, 2014 at 4:32 PM

    What a 9th inning by Soriano, striking out the side. Wowzers.

    • Joe Seamhead - Jun 22, 2014 at 4:35 PM

      +1

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 22, 2014 at 4:48 PM

      +2 That was dominant!!!

      • Joe Seamhead - Jun 22, 2014 at 4:55 PM

        For the series the Braves were 0-9 against Raffy!

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 22, 2014 at 4:58 PM

        That’s stealth. Remember what I said that he was throwing his fastball for his best velo since he signed with the Nats. I haven’t seen any mention from the Beat writers on that.

  5. veejh - Jun 22, 2014 at 4:34 PM

    Take that Braves! !!! We the boss!

    • Joe Seamhead - Jun 22, 2014 at 4:37 PM

      Is Soriano winning you over yet, veejh?

      • veejh - Jun 22, 2014 at 4:39 PM

        You haven’t seen me coma in since early this season. Still not the biggest fan, but I am more than happy he is killing it.

      • veejh - Jun 22, 2014 at 4:39 PM

        Complain

  6. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 22, 2014 at 4:37 PM

    That may have been the best I’ve seen Soriano… talk about deception…

    Fun 4 days at the park…. wish we could have won the homestead…

  7. veejh - Jun 22, 2014 at 4:38 PM

    BP was great today. Stammen w the hold in the 6th and killer 7th, Clipp shined along w Soriano. Boom.

  8. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 22, 2014 at 4:53 PM

    Loved the results and it worked out but leaving Tanner in there to try to finish the inning could’ve backfired. Good job Stammen.

    Other observation is not using Detwiler reminds me of Davey with a reliever you can’t trust and you put the pressure on Blevins and other relievers to pick up the slack.

    • dcwx61 - Jun 22, 2014 at 8:05 PM

      +1

    • adcwonk - Jun 22, 2014 at 10:18 PM

      Yes, but:

      In this case, I think every pitcher the Nats have — starter, long man, and reliever — is solid except one. I wonder if any other team could say that.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 23, 2014 at 9:15 AM

        They can’t. It still doesn’t mean that if the Nats could find another lefty for the ‘pen, they shouldn’t do it.

  9. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 22, 2014 at 4:56 PM

    Did the hot hitting LaStella have a hit this series? And I missed it, was there any reason why the braves changed their Line up? Kinda surprised La Stella was the lead off hitter…

    • Joe Seamhead - Jun 22, 2014 at 5:04 PM

      I don’t think they have much choice.The kid is a base hit machine, at least before this series. Between Uggla and BJ Upton the Braves have a serious problem with two pretty awful producers that they guaranteed a ton of dough to. When those kind of contracts backfire they can really limit the success in the near future for a team. Ask Philly.

    • adcwonk - Jun 22, 2014 at 10:25 PM

      Correct. LaStella had no hits this series.

      Gattis’ nine game hitting streak was stopped today, too.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 23, 2014 at 9:17 AM

        Huh? La Stella had a single on Thursday and a double on Friday. He started the series batting .343 and left at .302

      • adcwonk - Jun 23, 2014 at 10:53 AM

        You’re right, Ghost. There were no starters for the Braves that went hit-less for the series. I have no idea who I was looking up last night that led me to write that . . . .

  10. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 22, 2014 at 4:59 PM

    Fish have quietly gone 3-7 in their last 10 games…. Wonder if Stanton’s wrist is really okay….

  11. manassasnatsfan - Jun 22, 2014 at 5:05 PM

    Where are the Clip, Span and Soriano haters? They always show up at a loss, but are totally MIA in a win.

    Going to the PNats game Tuesday. Is Ramos playing today?

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 22, 2014 at 5:09 PM

      I’m not a Clippard fan at all… So, idk….

      • manassasnatsfan - Jun 22, 2014 at 5:20 PM

        Look at how many games he’s pitched and how many he gave up runs. Can’t complain.

      • manassasnatsfan - Jun 22, 2014 at 5:31 PM

        In his last 27 games given up run 2 and earned runs in only 1. So I am not sure what more can he do to get you to kike him. My guess is almost no pitcher has that good of numbers.

      • NatsLady - Jun 22, 2014 at 6:33 PM

        You are correct. I keep track of Clip and it would not be a stretch for him (and Soriano) to be selected to the All-Star team if he goes on another run of scoreless appearances.

      • Joe Seamhead - Jun 22, 2014 at 5:53 PM

        MNF, didn’t Clip give up 4 against the Astros the other night? Other than that I don’t think he has given up any other runs in his last 10 games.

      • manassasnatsfan - Jun 22, 2014 at 6:03 PM

        Jorrect Joe. Last 28 games they are the only earned runs. He one game near the end of April he gave up 4 unearned runs. Not sure the complaint. Two games with runs in the last 28 games.

    • Eric - Jun 22, 2014 at 5:21 PM

      According to WaPo, Ramos went 1-3 in his first rehab game today. Hit a homerun and had 3 RBI.

      • manassasnatsfan - Jun 22, 2014 at 5:32 PM

        That was yesterday. I am wondering if he is playing today.

      • manassasnatsfan - Jun 22, 2014 at 5:39 PM

        He went 1 for with an RBI single in the 7th and was pinch run for,

      • dcwx61 - Jun 22, 2014 at 8:09 PM

        that was yesterday

    • adcwonk - Jun 22, 2014 at 10:19 PM

      Umm — weren’t _you_ complaining about Clip last week?

  12. chazzmichaelmichaelzz - Jun 22, 2014 at 5:16 PM

    The frustration of the Braves players today and yesterday seemed like it was coming from a team in last place, not a team in a virtual first place tie and has dominated the series 7-1. Something is awry with them. Let’s hope the Nats can expand their 1st place lead.

    • masterfishkeeper - Jun 22, 2014 at 5:34 PM

      The Braves have been struggling, at least against everyone other than the Nats. And the Nats have Ramos and Harper coming back. The Braves don’t have anyone significant coming back from injury this year, The Braves know the Nats are more talented.

  13. letswin3 - Jun 22, 2014 at 5:48 PM

    Okay, if Zim is our ’15 first baseman, can he make that throw that ALR made to second (on the bunt) to prevent a RISP? I’m starting to think that there is only one spot for Zim both THIS year and next, and that’s LF. Yes, I do understand what that means….it means that Span (who has been respectable at the plate, and a great glove in the field) will have to sit in order to keep Harper and Werth in the lineup. Span would then have to be the 4th outfielder to give others a day off and serve as a possible defensive replacement in the 9th or extra innings when the Nats have a lead. This is all, of course, assuming that he isn’t traded before then.

    • Joe Seamhead - Jun 22, 2014 at 5:55 PM

      I really think you lose with that combo in the OF.

    • dcwx61 - Jun 22, 2014 at 8:07 PM

      you timing is impeccable

  14. scnatsfan - Jun 22, 2014 at 5:52 PM

    Fister and Roark show the guts and heart this team needs, kudos to them. And have to be glad Rendon is back, let’s hope Werth wakes back up.

    • manassasnatsfan - Jun 22, 2014 at 6:00 PM

      It would be nice if all had the bulldog mentality.

  15. NatsLady - Jun 22, 2014 at 6:28 PM

    Meet ya in Milwaukee! Do I dare boo Ryan Braun in his house?

    • Joe Seamhead - Jun 22, 2014 at 6:32 PM

      I always try to show respect for the hosts.Well, except in Baltimore.

  16. Faraz Shaikh - Jun 22, 2014 at 6:59 PM

    I really don’t get the stepson treatment SS gets around here by some.

    Anyways, not a bad series. Would have been cooler, if we had beaten kimbrel on Friday.

    • veejh - Jun 22, 2014 at 7:19 PM

      He still comes across as a bit of a baby, imo. The overhype he got early in his career and kind of not living up to the hype, yet, have rubbed fans the wrong g way.

    • scnatsfan - Jun 22, 2014 at 7:31 PM

      Draft him in the second or third round we love him but almost impossible to live up to the hype he had being number one overall

  17. natsfan1a - Jun 22, 2014 at 7:22 PM

    Take that, monkey! Now get off my back. (Thud)

    Great game, and the crowd was really into it – at least in our section. Did Gattis’ hitting streak end today? Can’t recall whether he had a hit yesterday. What was up with Chris Johnson? I figured he must have said a magic word or two. (How romantic.) Seemed like the Bravos were getting downright cranky towards the end there. Poor babies. :-)

    • natsfan1a - Jun 22, 2014 at 7:23 PM

      On another note, WTH, Word Press?

      • dcwx61 - Jun 22, 2014 at 8:08 PM

        +1 WPWTF

    • Eric - Jun 22, 2014 at 7:31 PM

      Gattis’ streak indeed ended today.

      Johnson very clearly and repeatedly said, “that’s horsesh!t” to Welke (1st base ump).

      • natsfan1a - Jun 22, 2014 at 7:32 PM

        Thanks, Eric.

      • veejh - Jun 22, 2014 at 8:01 PM

        And threw in a f you on his way out

      • nicefellow31 - Jun 22, 2014 at 11:09 PM

        Yes. Johnson said “that’s horse sh*t” to Welke repeatedly. Then he upped his game and said “you’re horse sh*t” which caused the home plate umpire to eject him immediately. That’s when the comedy started. Johnson looked at the home plate umpire, paused, and sad “you’re horse sh*t too.” That was hilarious. Then he f-bombed everybody on his way out.

      • natsfan1a - Jun 23, 2014 at 7:30 AM

        Thanks for the additional play-by-play, guys. On related note, I was trying to remember whether or how Johnson was involved in some bad blood between Atlanta and Florida last season. I looked it up and he was a key cog in the Atlanta tiff* occasioned by a “difference of opinion” between him and Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez.

        *Need to differentiate the various tiffs between Atlanta and the rest of baseball.

    • Joe Seamhead - Jun 22, 2014 at 7:58 PM

      Not only has the monkey been shed from their back, but the circus has also left town.

      • Sonny G 10 - Jun 22, 2014 at 11:29 PM

        +1

      • natsfan1a - Jun 23, 2014 at 7:45 AM

        Circus? I thought it was the cowboy monkey rodeo. Cowboy *down,* you son-of-a-gun… ;-)

    • Sonny G 10 - Jun 22, 2014 at 11:28 PM

      Love your sound effects, 1a [Thud] :)

  18. dcwx61 - Jun 22, 2014 at 8:10 PM

    Then Rendon should go for third

  19. dcwx61 - Jun 22, 2014 at 8:10 PM

    WP = FUBAR

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