Posted: 2:34 am Sunday, August 10th, 2014

A really long night ends really badly for the Braves 

By Mark Bradley

Ol' Rochy's homer put the Nationals ahead, briefly. (John Bazemore/AP)

Ol’ Rochy’s homer put the Nationals ahead, briefly. (John Bazemore/AP)

The game began at 10:51 p.m. Saturday, after even the West Coast games had commenced. It followed a rain delay of three hours and 41 minutes, which is about the time it takes the Red Sox and Yankees to play three innings. It ended at 2:29 a.m. Sunday, and it ended the way few games between these teams has ended of late.

For only the 10th time in 35 meetings since Aug. 22, 12012, the Washington Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves. This came at a galling moment for the home side, given that the Braves entered the series 4 1/2 games behind the Nats but could have pared the margin to 2 1/2 with one more run in the first 10 innings Saturday-night-into-Sunday-morning. But these were again the Braves we’ve come to know and not much love, the guys who can pitch but can’t really hit.

Nobody scored through five innings. The Nationals took lead in the sixth, only their second of the season at Turner Field. Adam LaRoche, the former Brave whom Bobby Cox called Ol’ Rochy, smacked a fat fastball from Aaron Harang over the wall in right field to lead off the sixth. It had been a fine day for Ol’ Rochy, seeing as how both of his woodsy buddies — Willie from “Duck Dynasty” and Chipper Jones of the Double Dime Ranch — had come to the ballpark.

The lead lasted one-third of an inning. Tanner Roark, who was infinitely better than the much more famous Stephen Strasburg had been the night before, walked Tommy La Stella to open the bottom of the inning. Then Freddie Freeman singled to right. Then Justin Upton walked to load the bases. Then Jason Heyward, celebrating his 25th birthday, lifted a fly ball to center that scored La Stella.

Being the Braves, they managed not to get any more from a hugely promising inning. Evan Gattis struck out. Chris Johnson grounded out. One inning earlier, a Harang bunt had become a deflating double play.

Not that the Nats were seizing every moment. Bryce Harper had done as Bryce Harper often does — keep both teams in the game. He’d singled twice, but he’d also struck out looking with a man at third and been doubled off first base on a liner gloved by B.J. Upton.

From the seventh through the 10th — you had to know a game that started at 10:51 would lapse into extra innings — only one runner advanced into scoring position, that coming in the ninth when the deadline acquisition Emilio Bonifacio stole second after a two-out single. The Nats chose to walk Ramiro Pena, who was hitting .217, to get to B.J. Upton, who was hitting even less and who’d struck out three times. This time Upton put the ball in play, but not so resoundingly as to drive home the game-winner. He grounded to short.

Anthony Rendon and Ol’ Rochy led off the 11th with singles to right, whereupon Ian Desmond nearly put the Nationals ahead. He lined a a David Carpenter pitch to left, and only Justin Upton’s deft recovery turned what appeared to be an RBI double into a saving out. (All three Braves outfielders made nice catches this long night.)

Then James Russell, the get-out-the-lefty left-hander who arrived in tandem with Bonifacio, was summoned to face Harper. Credit where it’s due: The often-overzealous Harper drew a five-pitch walk, loading the bases with one out. That was all for Russell, who was replaced by Anthony Varvaro. Wilson Ramos slapped Varvaro’s first pitch into center field to put the Nats ahead 2-1 with the bases still full, and then Kevin Frandsen sliced a double beyond Heyward’s reach to score two more.

Thus was the Nats’ division lead restored to 4 1/2 games, which was a big deal. Had this excruciating game gone the other way, they’d have reported for work Sunday facing the real possibility of being swept here for the second time this season. Sunday’s Nats starter will be Gio Gonzalez, and the Braves are undefeated in the past seven games started by Gonzalez dating to September 2012. The best the Braves can do now is end the weekend 3 1/2 games back, which beats losing ground but wasn’t quite what they had in mind.

From myajc.com: Are the Braves chasing the Nats, or vice versa?

38 comments
BradleyBreeze
BradleyBreeze

Another loss to a pitcher(Correia/Dodgers on Monday night)that couldn't win a game against another team if he tried.....wait he did have 3 or 4 wins against his 13 or so losses so I jumped the gun here!

Wilbo
Wilbo

Braves were down one, now have taken a 2-1 lead in the 5th.


I really do find it hilarious that the Nationals just can't seem to beat the Braves


satchel
satchel

you're not fielding your best team if you continue to start bj upton-- like you insisted on starting uggla.  if the braves dont care about winning, why should we?  

HUDDYS1FAN
HUDDYS1FAN

2014 Bravos are sporting the worst offense in twenty-five years.


That statement alone says it all.

cvan32802
cvan32802

More milquetoast apologetic reporting.   If you and your colleagues would read the thousands of posts over the past couple of months, the most popular words are Wren, Fredi and BJ or some literary acronym for one or all of them. The time has come to stop being apologists for this team and demand that major changes occur.   Non-apologetic reporting might result in some changes that might result in a competitive offense for next season when our injured pitchers return, and perhaps the Braves might be an exciting team to watch.


But it doesn't seem like you and DOB want that to happen.   You continue to deal with "almost" "just missed" "if we had won last night" and other excuses to try to make this crop of Braves a legitimate contender when in fact the fork was put in this season several weeks ago when they failed to win against mediocre opposition.


This season is a bust.   So was the 2011 collapse, maybe going to the won and done game in 2012 was a high water mark, or perhaps the Nats collapse of 2013 which allowed us to watch a noncompetitive 2013 NLDS series.  Maybe all of those seasons were the harbinger of even greater things to come!  Dream on!    I think there is too much talent on this team to have done so consistently bad over the past four years, and without some structural changes in who's in charge we can expect more of the same since,  thanks to Wren, we have to continue rewarding  former stars' good performances with their old teams, while being forced to play them while they suck for us in key situations.   It don't take a rocket scientist or a brilliant baseball mind to figure out where the blame lies -   it's the GM and field management.   They have to go, and go quickly.   Use your pens, Mark and DOB and demand change instead of continuing to be the apologists for the poor performance...


I will continue to throw you and DOB under the bus until I see "Wren must be fired" and "Fredi must be fired" in your columns instead of peon posters like me..    I don't think that's asking too much after the pain they have caused.

doktrt
doktrt

Stick a fork in the 2014 Braves. Wait till next year.

TheBigWally
TheBigWally

If Bad Joke Upton is in the lineup, Fredo is indicating that he doesn't care about winning or making the playoffs.  A Managers job is suppose to put his team in the best position possible to win the game.  If your batting Bad Joke lead off, then your not putting your best team on the field, but instead playing politics.

Mr. Negative
Mr. Negative

Harper is a punk who the league has caught up with. His stats mirror our infamous leadoff hitter. Harper gets his due by continuing to flail. A MAN like Chipper relished the booing he got in NY and feasted on the Mets there. Harper is such a baby that it hurt his widdle feelings. Of course he couldnt hold Chipper's jock strap as a player.

reckingball
reckingball

Once again, another one hit away(from a W), loss.

LostGoat
LostGoat

no big deal---the braves were just flat after that  big win on friday---they'll win the sunday game--book it!

9awebb
9awebb

Y'all see Harper kicking the dirt on the Braves logo? I have mixed feelings about it. He's a punk and we should have parked a fastball in his ribcage. On the other hand, even though he grates my nerves, at least he has some minerals. Unlike the walking dead we have seen from the Braves lately. 

hipdawg
hipdawg

I really feel sorry for all the folks that stayed to watch this slow train wreck.They don't even boo b.j. which I can't believe.I cringe when we load the bases and think how are they going to blow it this time.

DrPhill
DrPhill

Harper stomping the Atlanta logo can't fire up the walking dead.

Classof98
Classof98

The Nationals return to Atlanta in September.  Why not postpone the game and play a double-header then?  Why was it so urgent to get this game in that they started at 11PM?  Any thoughts on that Mark?

BooBooBear
BooBooBear

The Braves keep wasting their one hit surrounded by two walks rallies.  Someone should tell them that Joe Simpson loves to announce, "Once again another leadoff walk scores."  The Braves are keeping him from living up to that saying!

Wilbo
Wilbo

Like Li'l Markie has said before, the Nats aren't exactly setting the world on fire as far as taking advantage of opportunities goes. Maybe they'll give the Braves the game on Sinday. Or maybe a rainout.

THEBITTERTRUTH
THEBITTERTRUTH

BJ = 0 for 5 with 3 K's    Bonifacio 3 for 5 


I am done watching the Braves. If they do not care enough about the team to play the best players - then why should I care? They are going to pay BJ his 15 million per year whether they win or lose - so why not let a true lead off hitter with a decent average play? Playing someone who has hit around .200 for nearly 2 years is just plain stupid. He is not going to turn it around no matter how much Gonzalez and Wren want him to - if he was capable he would already have done it. Losing is not good but at least if the best players are on the field you do not feel cheated as a fan. Finally, Bonifacio is an exciting player with his speed - so he is always fun to watch - unlike BJ who is depressing to watch.

58Supersports
58Supersports

Aaron Harang did a super job,  LaStella & Freeman also. Bonifacio  has fire in his pants and played like Pete Rose last night but the rest of the players sleep walking....

This team has Wren's stamp all over it and the fat lady is warming up, oh singing! Fire WREN and Fredi!!!!!!!

FatherofFive
FatherofFive

Harpie is right -- no team could win with BJ at the top of the lineup.  He has a negative WAR.  Negative.  And it has been this way since he's been here (getting worse each of the last 4 years).  His mere presence makes it more likely that the team loses.  Keep him as a pinch runner, but get him out of the lineup!

kevkat
kevkat

It's really sad to listen to Fredi G postgame comments. He said the Braves started out great last night. Is that because they actually arrived at the ball park ? And trying to put a positive spin on everything this team does makes it worse. Almost like trying to explain how drinking motor oil is actually better for you than drinking water.  He looks confused, tired and like a guy who knows he's about to walk the plank.

Falcons2013
Falcons2013

The game was lost in the bottom of the sixth when once again they couldn't take advantage of bases loaded no outs. Only one run from that and you knew as inning ended they would lose. Gattis has not looked good since coming back. The team cannot hit in the clutch. Even with all the home runs on Friday night and a 7-0 lead they barely held on to win 7-6. This weekend is the knockout punch to the season. With Dodgers and As coming to town we will be ready to start watching prospects within a week.

ToeMeetsLeather
ToeMeetsLeather

Wren has assembled an unwatchable team in my eye. Been to five games this year, and I truthfully wish I had stayed home and watched the Food Channel instead.With the exception of Kimbrel, there is absolutely no fire on this team. 

As a mid level payroll team, you can't miss as bad as Wren has with the big money free agents(see Uggla & BJ) and expect to compete. The big question is whether he will be held accountable. His BJ deal, for a career .242 hitter, has handcuffed this team for the rest of their existence at the TED. 

Harpie
Harpie

If Bontfacio had been batting first, instead of BlowJ, they would have won the game. Nice job, Fredi!

RTS123
RTS123

BJ Upton is terrible. I know he hit a homerun Friday but even a blind squirrel can find a nut every now and then.

DavidinVirginia
DavidinVirginia

I'm glad that you're getting paid to stay up and watch this pathetic excuse for a baseball team, Mark. I'd hate to think you were putting yourself through this for free.

Ersatz
Ersatz

Same ole barves. Clowns!

ronaldtallon
ronaldtallon

So true. This team sucks. None of the players is playing up to their potential, and management truly sucks. It really is quite a disgrace. If I were part of that team, I would call a press conference and apologize to all the braves nation for stealing my paycheck. In fact, if their was justice, none of the players and coaches should be paid a dime for that road trip. They should have to pay for their own meals and rooms, too. They stink. I have been I braves fan since 1957, but I'm no fan of this worthless bunch.

Wilbo
Wilbo

@cvan32802 Don't you get it? These dudes are paid to be apologists. Do you think Mark Bradley, Dave O'Brien or Jeff Schultz could ever get a job at an actual newspaper that required research and clarity of thought and semi-objective writing? No chance in the hinges of hades. Have you ever heard Dave O'Brien talk? The guy can barely form sentences. Their job is to say, "Dah dah dah wup, dah dah dah wup. Oh, duh Braves they done soooooo good again dis year, and I bet next year they'll contend (they each had to have that word explained to them) for a world title."


That's all they got and that's the best they can do.


We have unconcerned owners, incompetent but egotistical management, a fool for field manager, and a poorly put together bunch of goofball unmotivated players.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@doktrt

Wait 'til next year? I think we've done that enough times (47) to figure that it simply doesn't work in ATL.

Wilbo
Wilbo

I think since the Nats already have 1 game to make up, they don't want to take a chance on a scheduling logjam if there is much more bad weather?

Wilbo
Wilbo

Ohhhh, quitcher complainin. BJ is the ultimate Brave. The Braves' basic team philosophy is to stand around like disinterested zombies in October. BJ just so takes that team mindset to heart he plays that way all year long!

Archer13
Archer13

@58Supersports Agreed.  Wren should actually be canned before Fredi bc he has wasted over $220mm in payroll on FA contracts (plus Uggla's trade & extend debacle).   


Dead money list on Wren:


Lowe

KK

Uggla

BJ


Combined they represent over $220mm in salary expense with a negative ROI.   In any other world a leader who mismanages 220mm is canned.   Full stop.


Mr. Negative
Mr. Negative

Dead on. Fredo is about to get a "boat ride" along with Wren.

58Supersports
58Supersports

@kevkat  Amen, u know...uh..u know we had them on the ropes, u know...what a joke!

DawgNole
DawgNole

@Mr. Negative

That's what teams that play to win would do. Don't bet your bank account that it'll happen here in a timely manner.