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Instant analysis: Braves 7, Nats 6

Aug 8, 2014, 11:34 PM EST

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GAME IN A NUTSHELL: They came to Atlanta feeling good about themselves, while the Braves returned home reeling from an 0-8 West Coast trip. And then within minutes, the script had flipped back to a familiar (and frustrating) one for the Nationals. The Braves rocked Stephen Strasburg for six runs in the first two innings, seven runs overall in five innings, leaving the Nats in a 7-0 hole and wondering if their longstanding troubles against their chief NL East rivals were back.

But just when it appeared all hope was lost, the Nationals scored four quick runs in the top of the sixth, getting a 3-run homer from Anthony Rendon. A 1-hour, 11-minute rain delay might have killed the positive momentum, but Wilson Ramos seized it right back with a towering homer in the top of the seventh, which preceded another run, trimming the deficit to 7-6.

But that’s as close as it would get. The Nationals couldn’t scratch across the one final run necessary to match the largest comeback in team history (June 17, 2006 against the Yankees at RFK Stadium). So they wound up losing for the eighth time in 11 games against the Braves this season and saw their lead in the NL East trimmed to 3 1/2 games.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: Stymied for five innings by Ervin Santana, the Nationals suddenly and dramatic sprung to life in the top of the sixth. It began with Scott Hairston getting hit by a pitch, setting the stage for Denard Span and Asdrubal Cabrera to single. Then Rendon hammered a pitch deep to left-center, a 3-run homer that turned what had been an utter fiasco of a ballgame into something far more compelling.

PITCHING LOWLIGHT: It feels like “lowlight” doesn’t even begin to accurately describe what happened tonight. This was a miserable performance by Strasburg, all things considered. It was a microcosm of the right-hander’s season. He was roughed up early, getting torched on his fastball, surrendering three home runs in two innings. Then he settled down and actually dominated for a stretch, retiring seven in a row (five via strikeout). Then he served up yet another homer, his fourth of the night. Put it all together and you’ve got five innings, seven earned runs, nine strikeouts and yet another nightmare in Atlanta. Strasburg has now made seven career starts here and failed to reach the sixth inning in five of them.

STREAK WATCH: With a sharp single to right leading off the top of the fourth, Denard Span extended his streak of games reaching base to 34. He also has a 12-game hitting streak now.

KEY STAT: Steven Souza Jr. became the sixth Nationals player to get hurt while playing at Turner Field in the last two seasons, joining Jayson Werth (hamstring), Bryce Harper (ribcage), Stephen Strasburg (oblique), Denard Span (concussion) and Ryan Zimmerman (thumb).

UP NEXT: The forecast remains spotty for Saturday’s 7:10 p.m. game, with more storms expected. It’ll be Tanner Roark and Aaron Harang on the mound, assuming they play.

  1. David Proctor - Aug 8, 2014 at 11:39 PM

    A lot of the talk will be about Strasburg’s failure, and it should be to an extent of course, but I want to commend the guys for the fight they showed. We were one hit away from tying the game after being down 7-0. And Rendon hit a bullet, it was just right at BJ.

    The way this game ended prevented them from leaving with confidence. They’re not thinking they owned us yet again, they’re wondering why every win is so hard to get and they’re lucky to have escaped with the win. We needed better from Strasburg and we would’ve won. But we can still win this series and after tonight’s game, I’m optimistic we will.

    • wmlsays - Aug 8, 2014 at 11:45 PM

      They fought hard, but Strasburg once again put them in position to lose big. Way to go, ACE! Yeah, I know what you’re going to say. It’s only because of blown expectations that people are too critical of Strasburg. Maybe so, but clutch he is not.

  2. stoatva - Aug 8, 2014 at 11:39 PM

    How the heck did Souza even make contact in that AB after the collision. Swung at the ball in the middle I guess.

  3. 6ID20 - Aug 8, 2014 at 11:41 PM

    Earlier today, someone questioned me saying that Strasburg has a monkey on his back. He definitely does. The monkey’s name is the Atlanta Braves. Note his uniform tonight, soaked with flop sweat.

    • manassasnatsfan - Aug 8, 2014 at 11:46 PM

      His problem and most of our pitchers problems is the same. To many fast balls nit well located.

      They can’t hit breaking balls. Clippard threw fast ball it was a hit. The rest were breaking balls they didn’t get much.

      When will Strasburg learn? When will McCatty learn. All the analyst are talking, and it stall happens.

      • wmlsays - Aug 8, 2014 at 11:49 PM

        In one ear, out another, like there’s nothing in between.

  4. manassasnatsfan - Aug 8, 2014 at 11:42 PM

    Great come back. To bad MW threw the white flag with Espi left handed.

    What is the deal with Strasburg? LaStella no career homer, and his first is the game winner. No reason to pitch like crap on the road and excellent at home.

    • scmargenau - Aug 9, 2014 at 6:54 AM

      Espi should never bat lefty. And if u haven’t noticed his def mistakes u r Ray Charles

  5. Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 8, 2014 at 11:42 PM

    It starts with Stephen S tonight…. I mean no command at all… 4 home runs by the braves, where 3 are 2 run home runs… Just a shame… He was just awful… And let these bums think they are good…

    But our 4-5-6 also didnt register a hit…

    6 runs should win the game though… Let’s get them 5-0 tomorrow…

  6. NatsLady - Aug 8, 2014 at 11:42 PM

    Too bad we had to use Clip (not that I disagree) but they also had to use Walden and Kimbrel. I’m sure they didn’t want to use them or expect to use them with a 7-0 lead. To me that is the main benefit of the close loss. Hopefully we will see the benefit of that on Saturday or Sunday.

    • stoatva - Aug 8, 2014 at 11:44 PM

      Good point.

    • NatsLady - Aug 8, 2014 at 11:45 PM

      Oh, and let’s face it, you really didn’t want to play extra innings tonight.

  7. Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 8, 2014 at 11:43 PM

    Beat these punks. Very disappointed in Stras. Frandsen’s running is High School. Someone better sit that boy down. Ramos and Rendon!!!!

    • wmlsays - Aug 8, 2014 at 11:48 PM

      Strasburg pitched like he normally pitches under pressure. That is, give up runs in the early innings and put his team in a DEEP hole.

  8. Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 8, 2014 at 11:45 PM

    And I absolutely hope that Steven Souza is okay…

  9. manassasnatsfan - Aug 8, 2014 at 11:49 PM

    The braves hit fastball mistakes. So you have to pen point them. They hit very little breaking stuff. This is an easy fix for someone willing to learn.

  10. wmlsays - Aug 8, 2014 at 11:50 PM

    Aside from SS, good job Nats! You gave a great effort, even with some questionable managerial moves.

  11. 6ID20 - Aug 8, 2014 at 11:50 PM

    Stephen Strasbust.

    • David Proctor - Aug 8, 2014 at 11:54 PM

      He’s not a bust. He might not be an ace, but he’s not a bust. There is middle ground.

      • wmlsays - Aug 8, 2014 at 11:56 PM

        You mean mediocrity? He’s a fairly good to perhaps average pitcher. Not close to being great.

      • David Proctor - Aug 8, 2014 at 11:57 PM

        He’s an above average pitcher. I would only call aces great. So if he’s not an ace, he’s not great. But he’s not mediocre either.

      • wmlsays - Aug 8, 2014 at 11:58 PM

        His record is pedestrian, his stats are pedestrian to slightly better than that.

      • stoatva - Aug 8, 2014 at 11:58 PM

        He’s more nearly Ben McDonald than Mike Mussina at this point.

        It’s worth remembering, though, that last year at this point in his recovery from bone chip surgery, Drew Storen was being sent to Syracuse.

      • 6ID20 - Aug 9, 2014 at 12:05 AM

        He may be an above average pitcher some day. But he certainly isn’t yet. Stephen Strasbust. A gray uni soaked with flop sweat.

      • stoatva - Aug 9, 2014 at 12:07 AM

        Look, you are entitled to be irked like the rest of us, but mediocre pitchers do not have 3.07 career ERAs. And that’s just a fact.

      • wmlsays - Aug 9, 2014 at 12:10 AM

        Career ERA has been moving up since the first year. Devolving, so to speak. Of course, he may yet turn things around in the future. For the moment, he should not be pitching when you really need a win.

      • stoatva - Aug 9, 2014 at 12:14 AM

        He pitches in rotation, like everyone else. But no, he’s clearly not the guy you’d set things up to have pitching in a crucial game. I hoped he’d show that tonight, but obviously he didn’t.

      • wmlsays - Aug 9, 2014 at 12:18 AM

        More often than not, for the last two years, when failure is not the option, that’s what Strasburg usually delivers.

      • scmargenau - Aug 9, 2014 at 7:00 AM

        What? #1 overall…he’s a bust if he’s average. Ranked middle of all qualified pitchers…sure u can find strike out stats but that doesn’t matter when u consistently give up early runs.

        Own up DP. Rose colored glasses can be bought anywhere, but u r too smart to
        Keep thumping that drum

  12. stoatva - Aug 8, 2014 at 11:54 PM

    Need Roark to show how it’s done tomorrow.

  13. NatsLady - Aug 9, 2014 at 12:08 AM

    Souza injured his left shoulder. Matty not sure if he will need to go on the DL.

    • stoatva - Aug 9, 2014 at 12:29 AM

      Michael Taylor hitting .500 at Syracuse. Call him up, he’s hot!

      • stoatva - Aug 9, 2014 at 12:38 AM

        Down to .385 after tonight’s 1 for 5. Never mind, he’s a bum.

  14. stoatva - Aug 9, 2014 at 12:16 AM

    Career ERA has been moving up since the first year.

    Actually, no. You could look it up.

    • Section 222 - Aug 9, 2014 at 12:34 AM

      Why do that? Especially when it might prevent you from asserting that the numbers support your rant.

      • stoatva - Aug 9, 2014 at 12:39 AM

        It’s really easy to forget how often Strasburg’s “failure to deliver” has been because of poor run support.

      • veejh - Aug 9, 2014 at 1:09 AM

        Oh, come on. If Stras often came thru in the clutch, this convo wouldnt be happening. You can argue stats all you want, he is unclutch.

    • wmlsays - Aug 9, 2014 at 1:10 AM

      His ERA when he started was 2.91. You can discount the second year (a much smaller sample set, cut short by the TJ surgery). Since then, his ERA has been 3 or above, with this year being the worst.

      • stoatva - Aug 9, 2014 at 6:06 AM

        So your point is: his ERA so far this year is higher than last. Okay.

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