The final regular season game against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park was highly anticipated as the Washington Nationals looked for the sweep and to extend their division lead to eight games. Braves starter Kris Medlen was the main thing that stood in their way, and he blocked the Nats path like a brick wall as the Nats fell 5-1.
Now, if you look at just the runs, you may get the impression that this game was far more out of hand than it was. Medlen, the Braves best starter of late, held the Nats to no runs on seven hits in seven innings. It was another extremely impressive start from the pitcher that holds a sub-2.00 ERA. Ross Detwiler had a good game, too. Through four and two-thirds innings, Detwiler had one of his best starts yet. He threw his four-seam fastball and sinker in the mid-90s with exceptional movement, but one unfortunate walk derailed a strong start.
After walking the pitcher, Medlen, on four pitches with two outs in the fifth inning, Martin Prado drove in two runs giving the Braves a 2-0 lead. Detwiler got out of the inning, but struggled to start this sixth. He gave up two hits, got Freddie Freeman to fly out, and was hooked in favor of Craig Stammen.
The Nationals only run came in the eighth inning after Bryce Harper singled and took second on a Reed Johnson error in left. Harper eventually scored on a Michael Morse single, but that’s all she wrote for the Nats offense.
The Nats committed three errors, which is uncharactaristic of their reputation as a solid defensive team. All of it came at the end of the game, and the final two put the game out of reach. Jayson Werth dropped a foul ball in the eighth inning that didn’t haunt the Nats. In the ninth, Ryan Zimmerman had a bit too much time to think about a routine play on Chipper Jones. He overthrew Adam LaRoche at first. Jones eventually came around to score. Michael Bourn also did damage on the Nats in the ninth. He single, moved to second on a wild pitch, stole third, and came home on a throwing error by Kurt Suzuki.
It was an ugly finish to a good series for the Nats, but the loss shouldn’t take away from what the series meant. The Nats are 10-5 against the Braves this season, who are their biggest competition this season. They also hold a six-game lead in the division. They won the series, and they head to play the Philadelphia Phillies and Miami Marlins, and the Braves have to deal with the San Francisco Giants and the San Diego Padres.
- Both Kurt Suzuki and Ian Desmond gave the Nats a scare with injuries during the game. Suzuki took a foul tip of the knuckles of his throwing hand. It was swollen, but x-rays came back negative. Desmond hobbled half way down the first base line when he hit into the inning ending double play in the eighth. Davey was concerned that he pulled his hamstring, but Desmond insists he just hyperextended his knee and that it’s totally fine.
- Ross Detwiler threw 78 pitches on Wednesday, and just four of them were breaking pitches. That means 74 pitches were fastballs or sinkers. It’s good news for the Nats, as Detwiler hasn’t trusted his fastball enough this season. Once he finds the right balance and can locate the pitches down in the zone as the came moves on, Detwiler will continue his great season. His sinker often looked like a breaking ball, but it was 92-93 mph.