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Nats get well-earned split vs. Braves

Jun 22, 2014, 7:47 PM EST

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

Winning two games out of a four-game set technically goes down as a split, as both teams leave the park without a series win. But for the Nationals to take two against the Braves this weekend, given the recent history between the two, this one sure feels different for Washington.

Before Thursday’s series opener, the Nationals were 1-5 against Atlanta this season and 7-18 dating back to last year. Then they lost the first two games, including a 13-inning heartbreaker on Friday night.

It took some timely hitting and two excellent outings by Doug Fister and Tanner Roark, but the Nats rebounded convincingly to leave D.C. with their 1 1/2 game division lead intact.

After their 4-1 win on Sunday, the Nats now face the Brewers – owners of the NL’s best record – with a little momentum on their side.

“It’s not going to be easy playing [the Braves] ever, there are going to be some tough wins and there are going to be some tough losses,” Danny Espinosa said.

“That’s a tough team. They have good pitching, good hitting, a good all around ballclub. Coming out here after the first two, to be able to split the series and be able to maintain the lead even though it’s early is a good feeling.”

Several Nats players noted the Braves’ recent dominance, as if recovering to split the series proved they still belong with their rivals down south.

“That’s obviously a really good team over there that has had our number the last year and a half [to] two years,” Ryan Zimmerman said. “It’s a step in the right direction. They’re still a really good team, and I really don’t think they’re going anywhere. We’re going to have to continue to play well against them if we want to get to where we want to go.”

“A split’s a split, but it’s nice to end on a good note, especially with those guys,” Tyler Clippard added. “We had been struggling against them all year and it’s not a secret. It’s good to get those two wins under our belt moving forward.”

Getting two consecutive victories against the Braves won’t fix their lopsided record in recent years. They are now just 9-24 against the Braves since Aug. 22 of 2012. As the beginning of this series proved, order can be restored rather quickly.

The Nationals and Braves entered the series on very different trajectories. The Nats had just swept the Astros, while the Braves were swept by the Phillies. Then, when they took the field Thursday, the Braves found their groove while the Nationals fell back down to Earth.

Manager Matt Williams credits his team for coming back with two wins, just when it looked like they were close to falling apart.

“I’m proud of the guys for staying in there,” he said. “We’ve talked about it many times – you have to have a short memory. After the first two, we got two really good pitching performances and the guys battled and hit some runs and played good defense and executed. That’s what we’ll have to do to win games.”

So have the Nationals turned a corner, have they gotten over the hump that is the Atlanta Braves? Not so fast says the skipper.

“I’ve been around the game a while, and I’ve realized that the next time we play them the same questions will come. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter to me. It doesn’t matter to them. We want to win tomorrow’s game. Today’s over. We want to win tomorrow, and that’s as far as we look.”

  1. dcwx61 - Jun 22, 2014 at 8:13 PM

    Girlfriend wanted to go out to Annapolis so missed the end of the game.
    Stopped in the bar to watch the U.S – Port match but a bunch of regular old retirees at the place wanted to watch women’s golf…God Bless America

  2. knoxvillenat - Jun 22, 2014 at 8:27 PM

    With Soriano going three days in a row do you think MW would go with Storen tomorrow night in the closer role if needed and give Rafael a night off?

    • Joe Seamhead - Jun 22, 2014 at 8:34 PM

      He actually had Barret up in the 8th.The key is to be winning by about 5 in the 9th, then it’s a non-factor.

      • manassasnatsfan - Jun 22, 2014 at 9:52 PM

        I believe Barrett was up in case we got up by 5

  3. Joe Seamhead - Jun 22, 2014 at 8:41 PM

    off topic, but Michael Morse left the Giants game early yesterday and was not in the lineup today. He’s been in a bit of a slump. Any word as to whether he’s hurt?

    • Faraz Shaikh - Jun 22, 2014 at 9:27 PM

      What’s the record when we score four or more?

      • manassasnatsfan - Jun 22, 2014 at 9:53 PM

        I think it is 34-3

    • Joe Seamhead - Jun 22, 2014 at 9:33 PM

      Thanks, unkyd. I hope it’s not too serious, but he hasn’t had a very good June compared to his earlier spring.

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

        Yeah thanks unkyd59.

        I like keeping up with what Morse is up to.

    • natsfan1a - Jun 23, 2014 at 7:34 AM

      If you want to keep up with SFO doings, I recommend this guy. Always enjoyed his stuff back when he wrote for the SJ Mercury (and he’s CSN, too – you’re welcome, site hosts). :-)

  4. David Proctor - Jun 22, 2014 at 9:30 PM

    There’s no way Soriano pitches tomorrow if it’s save opportunity. Not only has he pitched each of the last 3 games, but he saved both of the Astros games too. So he’s pitched 5 of the last 6 days. It’ll probably be Storen, yeah.

  5. dcwx61 - Jun 22, 2014 at 9:45 PM

    The Brewers lineup is one of the best, but believe they’ll have a difficult time against Zimm/Stras and the BP.
    Hopefully we’ll get enuf to beat 2 of the following: Garza/Gallardo/Estrada.
    Give Jason a day off

    • dcwx61 - Jun 22, 2014 at 9:50 PM

      oh and if you need a left handed bat off the bench try a right handed one instead

  6. adcwonk - Jun 22, 2014 at 10:33 PM

    Two great tidbits to mention:

    — Nats relievers retired all 11 batters they faced, lowering their bullpen’s major league-best ERA to 2.50.

    –Wilson Ramos went 1 for 3 with a homer and three RBIs in his first rehab game with AA Harrisburg last night — he went 1-4 with an RBI today.

  7. Faraz Shaikh - Jun 22, 2014 at 10:38 PM

    Thanks MNF!!! That’s a great record. Hopefully we can improve on the other side also.

  8. natsfan24 - Jun 22, 2014 at 10:39 PM

    The best part was watching several Braves melt down through pitcher-catcher check-off squabbling balks, yelling “HorseS” to a a first base ump, and seeing Mr. Antagonist himself (Justin Upton) getting hot and bothered.

    Feels good. Suffer, Braves. Suffer.

    • adcwonk - Jun 22, 2014 at 11:15 PM

      Braves have scored the second fewest runs in all of MLB. It must be really getting under the skins of their batters.

    • Eric - Jun 22, 2014 at 11:17 PM

      CJ was fired up. Didn’t he apologize for this type of thing like 2 weeks ago?

      In any case, it was pretty hilarious, as was JUp yelling at the ump after a swinging strike.

      • natsfan1a - Jun 23, 2014 at 7:39 AM

        I thought I remembered CJ being involved in some bad blood with Florida last season. I looked it up and he was a key cog in the tiff with Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez. (Oooh, a pitcher admired his own HR. His first career HR at that. That is just so, so – alright, it’s go time. Yeah, whatever.)

      • natsfan1a - Jun 23, 2014 at 2:17 PM

        Yeah, dude’s a hothead.

  9. janebeard - Jun 22, 2014 at 10:51 PM

    At least they are pretty well behaved, those Braves fans. We shut down the chop again today.
    Two great days at the park. And that Desi play in the second inning…thrilling.

    • EllieEspinosa - Jun 23, 2014 at 6:04 AM

      Prayers answered! Curse broken! GYFNG !

  10. Joe Seamhead - Jun 23, 2014 at 6:53 AM

    Bad news for the Cardinals as they lose Jaime Garcia and Michael Wacha to injuries, neither of which look good :

    • adcwonk - Jun 23, 2014 at 7:31 AM

      Holy moley. Is it just me, or does it seem that a whole lot of front-runners are getting killed with injuries. That Nats’ injuries are well known around these parts; the Cards; the Braves losing two pitchers from their rotation to TJ in two consecutive days this Spring; etc . . . .

      • adcwonk - Jun 23, 2014 at 7:32 AM

        I meant: more injuries than usual . . .

  11. Nats fool - Jun 23, 2014 at 6:58 AM

    Took my kids to the park. Just a great day for the family. The Nats still strike out too much, but what heart from Fister and Roark. It was clear Roark was tiring, but with only 1 run on 4 hits, it was not an easy call. Correct decision by MW.

  12. natsfan1a - Jun 23, 2014 at 7:43 AM

    It was a fun day at the park. Our section was *not* host to numerous opposing fans for a change, which made it even more fun.

    On another note, no offense to any anthem singers on here but, can we just stop with the auditions already and give the gig to D.C. Washington for good? Thank you. I wonder what our W-L record is when he sings it. Doesn’t matter, really. He’d still get my vote. :-)

  13. Sec 3 My Sofa - Jun 23, 2014 at 9:25 AM

    “the Nats now face the Brewers – owners of the NL’s best record”

    47-30, in case you were wondering.

    • Joe Seamhead - Jun 23, 2014 at 9:42 AM

      Yeah, well, the Giants had the best record in the NL until the Nats came into San Fran…

      • Faraz Shaikh - Jun 23, 2014 at 9:52 AM

        I was thinking the same thing.

  14. nats1924 - Jun 23, 2014 at 9:59 AM

    With wainwright, and now wacha and garcia going down for the red birds its only a matter of time before people start barking about how they have overused their young arms in recent years…especially wach

    i love the Nats, but it sucks to see these kind of injuries

    • adcwonk - Jun 23, 2014 at 10:49 AM

      It does. And let’s not forget the Braves who lost, in just the space of a couple of months: Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy, Tim Hudson and Paul Maholm from last year’s rotation, and now Floyd.

      I wonder if those idiots (and does that include Mikey Morse) who think we shouldn’t have shut down Strasburg in ’12 are paying attention.

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Jun 23, 2014 at 11:04 AM

        I think they are, they just think it’s worth the risk. Short-sighted, IMO, but some people do think that way.

  15. RPrecupjr - Jun 23, 2014 at 10:02 AM


    Teheran and Gattis can’t get on the same page….Chris Johnson and BJ Upton screaming at umpires and getting ejected……

    Who’s in whose head NOW????

    • nats1924 - Jun 23, 2014 at 10:06 AM

      i cant stand evan gattis and chris johnson — both guys are garbage

    • unkyd59 - Jun 23, 2014 at 10:47 AM

      BJ was earlier… It was J Up yesterday…. Heheh…..

  16. Jeff - Jun 23, 2014 at 3:27 PM

    Evan Gattis due for a long slump





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