Nationals 4 (62-84), Braves 2 (83-64)
WP: Lannan (8-7)
LP: Minor (3-1)
SV: Storen (4)
Washington Nationals in the 2nd inning: 3 H, 1 BB, 4 R
Washington Nationals the rest of the game: 2 H, 1 BB, 0 R
The Nats sent the minimum 3 batters up in 7 innings of the game...and managed to WIN 4-2 today. A bad second inning from Mike Minor, where the 8-hitter Justin Maxwell hit a grand slam, was all that was needed to do the trick. Minor pitched well, even with that bad second inning: only 5 innings, but 4 hits, 1 walk, and 6 strikeouts. The bullpen was excellent: 4 scoreless innings, 3 baserunners, all allowed by Jonny Venters...who's arm is probably in pieces by now. Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the 9th on 14 pitches. He's good. Say hello to your 2011 closer, Braves fans...sorry everyone who was talking about Venters getting that role in July. The job is Kimbrel's to lose, and with the way he's been pitching, its his.
The Braves offense put 13 men on base, pounded out 5 doubles...and put only 2 measly runs on the board. The offense went a pathetic 1/11 with runners in scoring position. Jason Heyward didn't have his mojo today, only reaching base once...which is a shame, since Martin Prado had 3 hits. The one time Prado came up with Heyward on base, he got a hit...and Heyward was called out when the ball hit him in the foot. Run number one came in an inning where the Braves had men on second and third with none out...a groundout by Melky Cabrera got the run home, but it was one of those worthless "get the worthless run in and give up a chance at a big inning" type of deals. The second run came in the 5th, when Prado singled in Omar Infante...and was thrown out trying to go to second on the throw. Way to work your way out of a nice inning. The Braves had chances...oh, they had chances. Matt Diaz doubled twice as well as reaching on a single, and was left to rot all 3 times. Troy Glaus even reached base a couple of times...he scored the first run. But that's all.
I think a lot of the team's lethargy lately has to due with the torturous schedule...today was the 20th straight game without an offday they've played. Tomorrow is a day off. The team can get some rest and hopefully get their groove back before embarking on a 9 game road trip to New York, Philly and DC that will probably decide the season. As things stand today, the Braves are 2 and a half out in the east, and a game up in the wild card. A Phillies win tonight will make the east deficit 3, and a Giants win would make the wild card lead only a half game. This is tense...and I don't like it, considering how great of a position this team was in 3 weeks ago.
Friday night at Citi Field, it'll be Jon Niese and Tommy Hanson. Hanson has 3 straight quality starts, and was downright dominant at times on Saturday against the Cardinals. With the string of crappy pitching performances the team has gotten lately, he'll need to turn in a good one.