Sunday, April 14, 2013

Braves pound Gio, sweep Nats

Photo by USA Today

In what should be a season-long battle of two powerhouse clubs, each with goals even bigger than the N.L. East division in mind, the Braves struck first with a convincing series sweep at Nationals Park. The surging Braves showed the Nats an early glimpse of what they are capable of, that this division may have the two best teams in the National League.

It’s only halfway through April, but a 9-0 drubbing in front of 39,389 fans at Nationals Park sent an early season statement.

“This division got tougher,” Ian Desmond said. “I don’t think there’s going to be a 100-game winner in this division. It’s going to be a battle all year long.”

“We got a good taste of what they’re bringing to the table this year.”

Center fielder Denard Span said the Nats weren’t exactly surprised by what the Braves brought to D.C. this weekend, but perhaps humbled by the resulting sweep.

“They just gave us a good ol’ fashioned kick in the butt,” he said.

“We see where we are now, we know we are a good team. It’s still early in the season but we a lot of work to do.”

On Sunday the Nats were in trouble from the opening pitch. Leadoff hitter B.J. Upton took the first toss of the afternoon for a double into left field. He was then driven in two batters later on an Evan Gattis double. And two hitters after that, Chris Johnson singled up the middle to bring in two runs and begin the game with a 3-0 Atlanta lead.

The Braves blew the door open in the third inning with two home runs. First, Justin Upton led the inning off with a solo shot, then Andrelton Simmons smacked a three-run homer to left field to put the Braves up 7-0. 

Seven earned runs later and Gonzalez had his worst day in a Nationals uniform.

I take the blame on this one 100 percent. I didn’t give these guys a chance to swing it or do anything today,” Gonzalez said.

“Our job, as a pitcher, is you have to go out and maintain that to a minimum, especially give these guys a chance to swing the bat, and I didn’t do that today, obviously.”

Gonzalez lasted five innings and finished with seven earned, seven hits, three walks, and two home runs allowed in the loss. His seven earned runs were his most as a member of the Nationals, but short of his career high of 11.

Gonzalez said his curveball was hanging and the high pitch counts inning after inning left his fastball dipping in velocity. He attributed most of his troubles, however, to not being his usual aggressive self.

I wasn’t attacking the strike zone. Leaving everything up and falling behind on a good hitting team, that’s all it was – falling behind and giving these guys too much to come back.”

Davey Johnson said Gonzalez’ pitch placement left something to be desired.

He was leaving the ball up and when he's at his best he's using his fastball down on the knees with his good curveball and changeup. He was missing up all day. That's where he got hurt. The ball's belt high, right over the middle. Good hitting lineup will do that.

While Gonzalez did not have his best day, Braves lefty Paul Maholm continued his torrid stretch through the beginning of this season. The nine-year veteran tossed 8 2/3 innings with zero runs allowed and has yet to give up a score through 20 2/3 total frames so far this season.

Maholm is all about placement and right now he is hitting his spots.

“For me as a lefty, he changes his arm angle a lot,” Span said. “It’s hard to pick up the ball. All of his pitches move and he just executed all of his pitches today. You could tell he had a game plan and he stuck with it.”

“I think him and Gattis were on the same page all day long,” Desmond said. “He was working efficiently, throwing first pitch strikes and getting ahead. His team gave him a big lead early and that’s what you’re supposed to do.”

The Braves added two more runs in the sixth inning off relief pitcher Zach Duke. They scored one on a Jason Heyward double down the right field line and their final run on a sacrifice fly by Gattis. Duke has allowed seven earned runs and nine hits in his first 4 2/3 innings this season.

The Braves took three games at Nationals Park to extend their current winning streak to nine games. They are the hottest team in baseball and have proven they can beat a good team in the Nats. 

Second baseman Danny Espinosa, who left the game after being hit by a pitch, said after Saturday’s loss the Braves are not the better team. On Sunday he re-iterated that sentiment by pointing out this is just the first three games of a long season in which the two teams will meet at least 16 more times.

“I still don’t think that they’re better than us,” he said. They’re hot right now. They’ve come back on some people, they’re playing well, it doesn’t last forever so I’m not worried about it.”

“We’re going to be real confident going into these next 16 games.”

NOTES: Ryan Zimmerman committed a throwing error for the third time in as many games; Adam LaRoche is now 5-for-34 with a .147 average on the year; Danny Espinosa received negative X-rays on his wrist but may miss a few games; Kurt Suzuki had two hits in his first game since Wilson Ramos’ injury

71 comments:

Gonat said...

I just got home. Even though it was a blow-out, most of the Nats fans stayed hoping for a miracle rally that never happened.

151 games to go. These are 3 of those 50 games that the Nats will lose and frustrate us as fans.

On to Miami and back to winning!

Rabbit34 said...

Today was a good preview of things to come. People will see things a lot clearer when they take their heads out of the sand. It is fun reading player comments though and it is fun going to the games but not expecting anything much. So far, so good .... .500 season.

nats guy said...

All I can say thank god for Miami. At least they can't finish in last place. Gotta agree with Rabbit. Not a World Series team unless they get that bullpen fixed. I don't know how they do that now. Not in their prospects and they would have to trade a lot to get some help.

peric said...

Can't really make any kind of assessment until at least 40 games. They do have talent they aren't using such as Tyler Moore. They do have some semblance of cavalry for the bullpen down in Syracuse.

What they don't have are viable long-term replacements for Stras, JZimnn, Gio, and Detwiler. But the Braves are worse off in this category so ...

The offense is anemic and will remain so until Zim gets past his shoulder surgery and Tyler Moore gets in the lineup more.

JaneB said...

Ouch. So. Regroup. Our guys are solid and for real. They will figure it out.

baseballswami said...

Today the Reds blew a five run lead and got swept by Pittsburgh . Remember last weekend? Ups and downs. Not all one or all the other. Tough weekend. They won't all be that way.

NatsLady said...

Remember how good we thought Cincinnati was when we were there? Remember how after week one pundits were saying the Reds were the best team in the NL?

They have lost 5 straight. They got swept by Pittsburgh who (cough, cough) everyone had written off.

The good news is Espinosa's wrist and the rest that the bullpen got. Henry is a really funny pitcher. Gets the first two out easily, I mean, easily, walks two, throws a crazy wild pitch. Nobody scores. You can't say it's "mental" because there IS no lower leverage situation than today. I'm coming around to Rizzo/Davey's position that Henry just can't manage his stuff. Maybe he will figure it out...

BTW, I'm listening on my way home to some game, maybe the Angels, and the announcer says that EJax and some other pitcher combined to throw a record FIVE wild pitches in one inning. Take THAT, Henry!!

I didn't see any chops, though there were quite a lot of Atlanta fans there. They were very well-behaved, maybe because of Kids Run the Bases and Puppies in the Park. A lot of people stayed, the crowd was over 39K and didn't start emptying until around the 8th inning. Seems like many people made a day of it, the cafe-restaurants around the park were filled up with people at outdoor tables.

Go to Miami and beat up on the Fish, because the Mets will not be a piece of cake. Just like last year they seem decent but will most likely fade after June. Halladay and Hamels both had good starts. Fillies ain't going anywhere.

Drew said...

The Nats are not a bad team. They're a very good team that has lost 5 games to two excellent clubs.

The Giants and the Cardinals are excellent, too. The sky isn't falling. We know any one of five teams can win the pennant -- six if you include the Kershaws.

It won't be beanbag. It will be hardball, but the Nats will be in this thing.

Better days are coming. Rendon went 4 for 4 today with 2 doubles and 2 RBIs. He's at .316.

Manassas Nats' Fan said...

Hitting needs to rebound. Last 26 innimgs 1 run 10 hits.

SonnyG10 said...

We will be ok folks. Our winning streaks are comming. Just hang in there.

Joe Seamhead said...


Anyway, I took my youngest grandson to the game for his 7th birthday. Other then the Nats embarrassing effort, we had a great day. He got a Harper jersey, and a cap, from the team store. Then we hustle down the lower level to the Signature Sunday to stand in line for Tyler Clippard's autograph, and he got it. His first pro autograph. Very cool for a seven year old. He was walking on air all day. Unlike some of the bloggers, he like Clip. Just not as much as Bryce.

Nats Jack, Not that it did him any good but, Werth went back to Werewolves of London for his third AB walk up song. Not much reaction from the Sunday crowd. Also, Jack, remember to follow your advice you threw out at me this morning. They're not worth it.
This team ran into a buzzsaw this weekend, and we went totally flat, along with the crowd after the team started out with the 4-0 lead Friday. By the fourth inning Friday night they had somehow lost the boisterous crowd, never got them, or their game back.

I thought that there was a good chance that we wouldn't jump out of the gate and run away with this.We have a tough front end schedule. I saw around .500 for April/ early May and that's looking quite possible. That said, I still think we will ultimately win the NL East. Nobody gets 100 wins in the division, but I'm still saying, "Relax. We got this." You'll see. GYFNG!!!

peric said...

Better days are coming. Rendon went 4 for 4 today with 2 doubles and 2 RBIs. He's at .316.

He'll tear up the Eastern League for a couple of months then get sent to Syracuse to make the Chiefs an almost major league team since they also get Chris Young. They'll be as good as the Astros at that point mebbe better.

After that? He and others are just a phone call today just like Solano. The BravetyBrave Braves fan twit on the NJ was raving about his farm system. Syracuse easily outclasses the Gwinnett Braves. This year in AAA the Nats should be really pretty damned good.

Gonat said...

Manassas, hard to get going with 2 starters in the 4 and 5 that are swinging at air and worse than that grounding into doubleplays and Espinosa in the 7 is batting a buck seventy-five.

baseballswami said...

Saw a comment on twitter that made me ponder. I am well aware that the guys are not playing up to par, but I have watched most of every game and there have been an awful lot of random little things - not one has gone our way. Players make mistakes, but some you get away with- ours have had consequences that were glaring. Balls have not dropped, have gone directly to a player, they have made amazing plays. But the thing that made me ponder was a remark about Bernie's AB. Horrible, horrible strike calls. At least two not- really- hit batters, bad out/ safe calls, bad strike zones- again, overwhelmingly not in our favor. That kind of bad juju just has to balance out. I mean, it's been two weeks with about two months worth of weirdness. Come on- I am not just being a homer. If you have been watching then you see it.

peric said...

Espinosa in the 7 is batting a buck seventy-five.

LaRoche in the 5 is doing worse.

peric said...

They're not going to hit for a lot of power particularly acute given Zim's ongoing rehab and recovery from the shoulder surgery. No matter what you say it is what it is. And you just have to accept it if this lineup stays the same.

Gonat said...

peric said...
Espinosa in the 7 is batting a buck seventy-five.

LaRoche in the 5 is doing worse.

April 14, 2013 8:03 PM
_____________________________

peric, LaRoche is but his contact has been better. In small sample sizes unlucky BABIP of 2 or 3 that could've been hits will skew it to super ugly.

Think about it.

Unknown said...

I like Span's comments - veteran sizing up the job at hand and realizing he and his teammates need to get better fast to keep up.

Don't like Danny's comments at all. "I still think we're better"? That sounds like D-Hall and the rest of the Skins with their endless stream of hubris even after they've gotten their arses kicked, like what happened in this series.

Danny needs to grab some splinters until his play improves and his mouth shuts. Rendon is knock-knock-knocking on the major's door, Danny-boy and it's a results-based league and you and the Nats ain't measuring up right now.

Let your play talk for you - this series' speaks volumes....

peric said...

peric, LaRoche is but his contact has been better.

Either way ... he is off to a slow start.

Danny's rotator cuff still concerns me.

peric said...

Harper hits the cover off the ball the beginning of the first game. They adjust to him and shut him completely down the rest of the series. End of offense ending with the coup de grace ... a nine to nothing shutout and shutdown.

That tells me the only hitter in the Nat's lineup they fear is Harper.

With Tyler Moore that doesn't happen.

Secret wasian man said...

Its not bad JU JU. Its bad play. especially from Zimm and LaRoche at the plate. This team quit today. Something you did not see last season. That is worrisome.

peric said...

Some people also reported that Harper stopped hustling ...

Whynat said...

Agree that I don't like espy and stras's recent comments about being better. Keep your mouth shut and let your play do the talking. Braves beat em three different different ways: come from behind, duel, and absolute beat down as the capper. I'm tired of hearing how good they are. I want to see it. It almost sounds like they are trying to convince themselves.

John C. said...

Rabbit34 and nats guy should change their handles to "eeyore1" and "eeyore2." Always with the negative waves!

peric said...

U Make the CALL: who is worse?

D. Espinosa: 40 AB, 6 SO, 2BB
A. LaRoche: 34 AB, 10 SO, 3BB

D. Espinosa: 4 2B, 1 HR .175/.233/.583
A. LaRoche 0 2B, 2 HR, .147/.216/.540

MJR said...

Going back a couple of posts to Swami's comment about de Rosa and Mikey Mo...I was thinking the same thing. The entire team looks stiff and serious...they're not clicking, not having fun. Could be that they've lost some of that positive mojo those two guys brought to the clubhouse last year and that's having an effect on their collective psyche. Loosen up boys...it's your job...but it's still a GAME.

SonnyG10 said...

I disagree with "Unknown" and "Whynat" regarding Danny's and Stras' remarks about being better than the Braves. If you want to be the best, then you must think you're the best. The whole team needs to believe they are the best and it doesn't bother me one bit if they say so. At least I know they're thinking the right way.

nats guy said...

Hey John C.

I never attacked you personally. I stated what I see as a problem. They have no bullpen. I didn't call you a name. Cut out the personal digs. After the season is over we'll see who is correct. It's only a game and I have been watching it since the Senators of 1961. I have said the defense will right itself and I have not been beating up Ryan Zimmerman. I do think they are going to have a very long season unless they find a way to get a bullpen.

Cut out the personal shots!!!!!!!!

Gonat said...

peric said...
U Make the CALL: who is worse?

D. Espinosa: 40 AB, 6 SO, 2BB
A. LaRoche: 34 AB, 10 SO, 3BB

D. Espinosa: 4 2B, 1 HR .175/.233/.583
A. LaRoche 0 2B, 2 HR, .147/.216/.540
_________________________________________

I watched or have been at all of the games and I will say they are both a disappointment.

Whynat said...

Baseball highlight for me today was steady Eddie's glove find. It's a beautiful game and that episode captured it.

Eric said...

Somehow I am more relaxed about everything now. I dunno why. Thomas Boswell had a great article in the Post a couple of weeks ago about how no team catapults directly to the WS in their first winning season. They need to learn how to choke and lose and then...just let it go.

Honestly, I don't think the Nats have emerged from playoff mentality yet. I know I only just did during game two of the series with the White Sox. Zimm's throw to second yesterday reeked not of a lingering injury to me, but of panic. In a perverse way (that Boswell put much more succinctly than me), I think these kinds of losses will ultimately help them. Staying on the good side of 500 will help ensure it doesn't sink them when it happens.

But, we'll see.

peric said...

Yep just have to wait and see how it all winnows out.

Ivan Tuski said...

Matt Stairs

Eric said...

PS...if I may expose my n00b...what does GYNFG stand for?

John C. said...

No personal offense intended, nats guy; I view "Eeyore" as pretty mild way of suggesting that all is not darkness & doom.

Of course, I've been on a show this weekend and so didn't have to sit through these three games. But I've sat through worse, even last year.

Manassas Nats' Fan said...

wish I had the numbers after 12 games last year to compare.

this year

Runs 11th

ERA 11th

Fielding 15th

In all three areas we are bottom third. Despite that still 7-5.

Ivan Tuski said...

Go you freakin Nsts go. (I had to ask last year)

mick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mick said...

I like the Stras, Ian and Danny stating "I don't think the Braves are better than us" However, I remember a certain character in an old Monty Python movie who was cut down to the stub by the black knight proclaiming "I got you right where I want you"

lol

peric said...

And for Nats fans? Its Matt "Stares".

peric said...

Its just a flesh wound you Tomahawkers!

peric said...

The best news is the return of the heirloom glove. May seem like a small favor but in the grand scheme of things maybe its at least bigger than the Braves series.

mick said...

"its just a flesh wound, I'm invincible, come back here Braves!"
lol

mick said...

lol peric

SonnyG10 said...

peric said...
The best news is the return of the heirloom glove. May seem like a small favor but in the grand scheme of things maybe its at least bigger than the Braves series.
April 14, 2013 10:15 PM


I second this comment.

mick said...

Good night my Insider friends, in addition to being a sports fan, I am a Monty Python nut from back in the day and I leave you all with.......

Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse
When you're chewing on life's gristle
Don't grumble, give a whistle
And this'll help things turn out for the best

And always look on the bright side of life......


lol


Gonat said...

Eric said...
PS...if I may expose my n00b...what does GYNFG stand for?
_______________________________

Go You Friggin Nats Go

Eric said...

Grazie all, re: GYFNG.

Section 222 said...

Eric, welcome. And if you want, check out the NIDO Spreadsheet, on the tab called Glossary. Lots of Insider lore there, including definitions of GYFNG, PFB, and other frequently used shorthand.

Eric said...

Haha, awesome, y'all don't mess around with yer lingo ;).

Gonat said...

Sect222, the Glossary is very nice! You are missing "Sweet Holy Moses" from Mark and some of the great FP terms we use like the 5.5 hole and "there goes the no-hitter".

Gonat said...

Sect222, and Trust but Verify

peric said...

And there's some missing ... things like "tweeter" ... and Bryce's dog Swag for that matter ... the "Magnolia Muscle".

peric said...

And there's worse news ...

Its almost tax day.

peric said...

And good news? Jeff Kobernus was left out of two games ... the home opener and the 1st game of today's double header. In the second game he went 3 for 4 scored a run and swiped a base to make it 5.

Jeff Kobernus is now batting .556.

peric said...

Make that 2 bases swiped. Kobernus might swipe a good number before the Chief's are through.

peric said...

Remember that Chase: Jeff Kobernus .556 average.

sjm308 said...

OK - I have stayed away after listening to all of the game while doing yard work.

Pleased to see there is nothing horrible here. Lots of worry and legitimate concerns.

Gonat - I would say that two of these games would fall in the 50 we were going to lose no matter what but not that first one. We gave that away and that is one of those games that honestly matters. If you have 50 you are going to win and 50 you are going to lose and the other 60 are the key, that first game was one of those. We should have won that one.

Like Peric, I want to wait till 40 games but I am concerned about all the errors. I have to think we are leading the league in errors right now and that is not a good thing. I can deal with poor plate production since that will usually work itself out but the errors bother me. That is basically lack of focus.

Have to get back to winning 2 of 3 and we have two great series to do just that.

Go Nats!!

Section 222 said...

Excellent additions Gonat! (Btw, I think Mark actually says Sweet Fancy Moses.) Others may elaborate on your definitions or descriptions of their origins, like I wonder if someone could find the first time Mark said Sweet Fancy Moses on this blog. It would be cool to know what the play was that inspired him to use that great expression.

The Glossary and other tabs on the NIDO Spreadsheet represent the collective work and intelligence of a great and growing community. Not to mention a whole lot of drinking if we were ever to pay our debts!

Gonat said...

sjm, you are right. Painful.

peric said...

Meanwhile the Chiefs are starting the year out swimmingly in spite of the cold, wet rain, and the ever present chance of snow this early in the spring.

I'm not sure what Rizzo, Clark, Harris, and Beasley told them but whatever it is its working for a major part of the Chief's roster. They may soon get Rahl or Komatsu and both are better than Eury Perez placed on the DL with the wrist. Plus, Rendon should be on his way to the International League eventually ...

Nate Karns is pitching better as a starter but most of our 'pseudo' scouts still believe he will end up in the bullpen. I guess we'll see ... I always fancied him a starter but that was before the shoulder surgery ...

NatsLady said...

Seamhead, I'm with you. Last year the Nats got swept by the Dodgers and came home dragging and lost another one. Also lost a tough sweep to the Yankees, plus that 9-0 game. When Atltanta came out of the gate 13-1 in 1994, guess who caught up and overran them--your Montreal Expos. Just play one at a time, boys, one at a time.

Gonat said...

So far the Nats have done a great job of beating those teams they should be beating.

We all know the Braves series started out wrong and the Braves got the momentum. It happens.

Now time to look forward.

Another_Sam said...

I just looked in the paper. There's another game coming up. The score in that one is 0-0. Play ball.

Section 135 said...

Zimmerman should be called out for his poor play. He basically lost two games in this series. He looks slow and overweight; his hitting is weak; he should not be in the 4 hole; his defense is a liability and he appears to not care. I'm sure he'll eventually get hot, but I expected more out of him

baseballswami said...

I have a friend that posts quotes every morning. Today it is --- the good thing about the future is that it happens one day at a time. Lincoln. Appropriate for the day. I think a lot of us got ahead of ourselves and started thinking October when it's only April. And also maybe we were thinking Fairy Tales and we are getting reality tv. There is a lot of uh-oh, and what the heck is wrong with the Nats? Guess we all have to watch it play out over the next 5-6 months. And that is a long time. We did not even know what the post season would look like in August. I can't live all mad and frustrated. I am going to have to take this one game at a time and realize there are no guarantees.

Gonat said...

http://www.milb.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?gid=2013_04_14_haraax_altaax_1&t=g_box&did=milb

Get excited about that boxscore. Rendon and Goodwin leading the way.

Steady Eddie said...

Whynat, peric, Sonny from above and everyone else who made thoughtful comments on the game thread -- thanks for your thoughtfulness on the glove finding. While I was prepared to let it go as it's only a replaceable "thing", it's much better to actually still have it for our daughter and family.

And thanks especially to our friend who endured a really bad ball game and exerted himself across multiple parts of the stadium to reclaim it.

Another_Sam said...

Swami -- you nailed it again. Thanks, man.

NatsLady said...

Steady, glad you got the glove and glad you have good friends!!!

natsfan1a said...

Great news, Eddie!

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