Three quick thoughts — quick because I have to be in Athens for G-Day on Saturday — after watching the Atlanta Braves beat Washington 7-6 in a game that ended at 11:28 p.m.
1. The Washington Nationals, not for the first time, are wondering how they lost this one. They outhit the Braves 14-9, scored three unearned runs after a Dan Uggla throwing error and overrode a 4-0 deficit to take a 6-5 lead in the eighth. They lost anyway. (Justin Upton tied it with a homer off Tyler Clippard in the eighth and won it with a bloop single off Jerry Blevins in the 10th.) As the Nats’ Adam LaRoche said before the game: “Regardless of what we do, I always think it’s going to be a one-run game against those guys.” And the Braves, who were 13-6 against the Nationals last season, are 3-1 in 2014. Sure enough, two of those victories have been one-run games decided in the final at-bat. Had Washington won, it would have led the Braves by three games not two weeks into the season. By losing, the margin is one.
2. That said, the Nats really can hit. Their 2-through-5 batters — Anthony Rendon, Jayson Werth, LaRoche and Ryan Zimmerman — are all hitting far above .300. Bryce Harper, who started slowly this season, had three hits Friday. Ian Desmond, the seventh-place hitter this night, has three home runs and eight RBIs. Washington isn’t a great defensive team and is terrible when running the bases, but this everyday eight, even without injured catcher Wilson Ramos, is impressive. (No B.J. Uptons or Dan Ugglas, in other words.)
3. Instant replay has taken the rhubarb out of baseball. Four times Friday, a manager left his dugout after a close play. (Fredi Gonzalez did it three times, Washington’s Matt Williams once.) Not once did either man actually throw a tantrum. Gonzalez waited three times for dugout coach Carlos Tosca’s signal to challenge or not. All three times Tosca got the word via phone that the original call looked correct, which meant Gonzalez returned to his seat having loosed nary a bit of invective. Reply was used after LaRoche, among the slower men in the sport, was tagged at the plate by Jordan Walden trying to score from second on a wild pitch, but Adrian Johnson’s call was upheld.
From myajc.com, our premium site: LaRoche and the Nationals try to hold serve.