After watching a four-run lead slip away in an extra-innings loss to the Atlanta Braves on Friday night, the Washington Nationals were anxious to come back and shut the Braves down on Saturday afternoon. But Tim Hudson, Evan Gattis and an untimely error proved to be too much for the Nationals to rally against in the 3-1 loss.
What we learned today:
Zim isn’t invincible: An error from the Golden Glove winner was a significant factor in the Nationals’ loss, again. Ryan Zimmerman’s throwing error yesterday allowed the Braves’ tying runs to score, and today an E6 again put Atlanta in a position to score. Zimmerman’s throw to first was short, pulling Adam LaRoche off the bag and leaving Justin Upton standing on first base with two outs in the third. Instead of ending the inning, that miscue brought Gattis to the plate, and he capitalized on the Nationals’ misfortune by blasting a home run to left, making the score 2-0. Zim said he wasn’t worried that the errors were products of his previous shoulder injury, which he had surgery on in the offseason. It was just unfortunate that the Braves were able to take advantage of his mistakes.
Ramos pulled his hamstring: In the eighth inning, Wilson Ramos tried to leg out a grounder, and stepped gingerly off the field after being called out. Davey Johnson called Ramos’ injury “the heartbreak of the day,” as he will likely miss several weeks after just fully recovering from the knee injury he sustained last May. Kurt Suzuki will take over as the everyday catcher, and Triple-A catcher Jhonatan Solano is in line to be called up if and when Ramos is put on the disabled list.
You don’t run on Bryce Harper: Dan Uggla made the mistake of testing Harper’s arm today in the second inning. With two outs, Hudson hit a ground ball single to left field, which Harper promptly gunned home to throw out Uggla as he attempted to score. Though Harper went 0-for-3 at the plate, ending his six-game hitting streak, he made his contribution from the field.
Danny is heating up: Danny Espinosa hit his first home run of the year, a solo shot to right, which was also his first hit in two games. After Espinosa hit .333 in Spring Training, Johnson was surprised he’s had a slow start to the regular season, but hopefully his 1-for-3 effort today is a sign that he is finding his rhythm again.
Strasburg is still the ace: Though he threw a lot of pitches and struggled with throwing his breaking balls for strikes in the first few innings, Stephen Strasburg did his part to put the Nationals in a position to win on Saturday afternoon. He lasted six innings, and gave up five hits and one walk with seven strikeouts. Strasburg retired the last seven consecutive batters he faces to finish his outing strong.
Tim Hudson is also an ace: In the Braves eighth straight win, Hudson shut down the Nationals offense, throwing 90 pitches in seven innings. He faced the minimum in five inninigs, gave up just four hits and no walks, and struck out three.
The bullpen was better today, but still not great: Zach Duke and Henry Rodriquez both pitched scoreless innings, while Ryan Mattheus allowed one earned run in the ninth. Duke was sharp, and had a 1-2-3 inning on 12 pitches. Rodriguez showed why Johnson feels he still needs work, walking two batters, striking out one, and eventually escaping the inning with no harm done. Mattheus struggled the most of the bunch, giving up three singles and allowing the Braves to tack on an insurance run with a ground out by Jason Heyward.
Scoring against the Braves must be done before the eighth inning: Eric O’Flaherty needed just six pitches to retire the side in the eighth, and according to the 106.7 radio broadcast, he continues to boast a 0.00 ERA against the Nationals. Craig Kimbrel was fantastic as usual, throwing ten pitches to face the minimum and earn his fifth save of the season.
Tomorrow is a chance for redemption: Gio Gonzalez, whose bobble head day drew a sellout crowd of 41,992 on Saturday, will take the hill tomorrow at 1:35 on Sunday. Though they already lost the series, the Nats will try to avoid being swept for the first time.