Posted: 11:28 pm Friday, April 11th, 2014

3 thoughts as the Braves again swat the Nats 

By Mark Bradley

There was a lot of standing around Friday. (David Goldman/AP)

There was a lot of standing around Friday. (David Goldman/AP)

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.

13 comments
RoseUp
RoseUp

The Nats GM said "We're a better team than the Braves... We don't fear them," and Joe Simpson concurred, "He's right to say that." The Braves owned the Nats last year and they've done so again, so far, this year. Enough of the "Nats are better" talk already.

satchel
satchel

one of the best things i've noticed about replay is that it's taken the stupid tantrum-throwing of the managers out of the game.  i kinda like watching people speak reasonably to each other.  even in baseball.  


DirtyDawg
DirtyDawg

Fredi should have gone ahead with his challenges...no way Angel Hernandez (or whatever his name is) gets a call right....ever.

TampGator1
TampGator1

tneck.....


Pastornicky is a better lead off hitting option than Schafer and is a better everyday option than Pena, who is much better as a backup, middle infielder who can play 2B, SS, and 3B and is an effective PH. Schafer simply does not make enough consistent contact to be in the lead off spot . Schafer is better suited for the 8th hole where his speed can still be utilized.

TampGator1
TampGator1

One more month before decisions about B.J. and Uggla just have to be made.  If they do not start hitting when it gets warmer and stays warm then B.J. has to become a role player no matter how much money he is making and Uggla has to be released or benched.  And Pastornicky deserves a shot at 2B with Pena remaining the best multiple position, infield option off the bench.  He is also a better and seasoned pinch hitter, over Pastornicky. 

armchair
armchair

Uggla's two-out error led to a three-run Nationals inning. The guy keeps giving in so many ways. What a three/four-year disaster he's been. One of the reasons the Uptons struggle at the plate is that they have these huge looping swings--you can't hit for average with that kind of swing. Very rare, and of course they've never hit for average. You can hit some homers with that kind of swing, but average is better. 

tneck
tneck

I would bench Uggla and BJ just as soon as Andrelton is ready to go.  Play Pena at 2nd and Schaffer in center.  Bat Schaffer first and Heyward second. 

POAD2013
POAD2013

That game had EVERYTHING but a triple play.

The BEST hit of the night was when the Nat batter nailed the 2nd base UMP with a line drive.

Karma I would say.

First.

Mulk
Mulk

@TampGator1 Gator,


Why do you think that either will start hitting? There is correlation with baseball statistics. They are both sub .200 hitters. And , I don't mean "at this time". I don't see how the Braves won as much as they did last year or this year with those two in the line up. All 3 options - Pastornicky, Pena or Schafer - are better than Uggla or Boss Junior.


I guess Freddie has to play them to justify the investment that has been made on them.

oldcrackerfan
oldcrackerfan

@armchair  

This is basic baseball; it has always worked and would work today.  TV has changed the game.  Everybody wants to see himself on Sports Center hitting the ball out of the park.  The flash and bang of football also has had an effect.  As a result, most fans think a close, low-scoring game is boring, which is too bad.  Those games are can be very tense.  Matt Williams said the other day that the key to his club's success is having men on base when the long ball comes.  His team looks to me as if it plays that way most of the time.  Freddi talks about keeping the line moving.  Every now and then, you see them do it, as in the 1st inning last night.  But not very often.  The hype about homerun hitters has affected GMs, too.  So we have two gigantic contracts with players who can no longer hit anything, long or otherwise.  Playing with what a seven man lineup is such a shame.  I guess there are only a few of us who would rather see a single, or a drag bunt, and then a another single or sacrifice--maybe a steal---and then a gapper or HR.  Pitchers are so fragile these days that playing like that would get you into the other guy's bullpen faster.  Nickle and dime 'em to death.

panamaralph
panamaralph

@Mulk @TampGator1  


As long as the braves are winning with BJ and Uggla in the line-up they will stay in the line-up, the only thing that will get them out is if they go on a long losing streak, I hate it but that's the way it is.

RJRinColo
RJRinColo

@oldcrackerfan @armchair You're on the money oldcracker. I agree with everything you just said, including the outside influences that have had a very harmful affect on classic baseball strategy. And when I say outside, I'm including the GM's and even the casual fans who want rock 'em sock 'em fireworks instead of paying attention to the extremely complex little things that make true baseball as intricate as a chess game. When properly understood, the situation and the strategy in a baseball game changes with every single pitch.