Results tagged ‘ Atlanta Braves ’

Highlights: 4.29.13

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4.29.13 – Braves 3, Nationals 2

Stat of the Game: Washington collected four consecutive singles to score twice in the second inning, but could not add on in the frame and did not score the rest of the way.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Chad Tracy had two hits and an RBI in a spot start at third base.

It Was Over When: The Nationals could not capitalize on a chance to take the lead in the sixth, and Atlanta pushed ahead on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh.

What to Watch for: 4.29.13

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Washington Nationals (13-12) vs. Atlanta Braves (15-9)

RHP Stephen Strasburg (1-4, 3.18) vs. RHP Julio Teheran (1-0, 5.48)

Washington hits the road to open a four-game series and seven-game swing tonight in Atlanta. Stephen Strasburg takes this hill against the Braves for the second time this season after allowing just a pair of unearned runs over six innings in his other start.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Espinosa 2B

3. Harper LF

4. Werth RF

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Desmond SS

7. Tracy 3B

8. Suzuki C

9. Strasburg RHP

BAGS PACKED

Starting tonight, 22 of the Nationals next 32 games through June 2 will take place on the road. Those 22 road contests not only begin at Turner Field, they end here too, as Washington returns to Atlanta for a three-game set, May 31-June 2. The Nationals are 4-5 thus far on the road in 2013. Last season, Washington posted Major League Baseball’s best road record at 48-33 (.593).

TRENDS FOR 2013

Washington is 11-1 when scoring first, but just 2-11 when their foe draws first blood. When totaling nine or more hits, the Nationals are a perfect 9-0. Washington is plating 5.8 runs per contest in 13 wins, but only 1.4 per contest in 12 losses to date. Despite the lukewarm start offensively, the 2013 Nationals have actually out scored the ‘12 Nationals by 11 runs (93-82) through the initial 25 games of their respective seasons. Washington is 4-1 in one-run games.

WINNING MONTH TO MONTH

The Nationals are 13-12 with two games remaining in April. With a win Monday and/or Tuesday at Turner Field, the Nationals would post a winning month of April. In 2012, Washington played winning baseball every month of the season: Sept./Oct. (18-13), August (19-10), July (17-9), June (15-10), May (15-13) and April (14-8). Dating back even further, including September of 2011, Washington has currently posted seven consecutive winning months.

Bouncing Back Big

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Early in a young season, teams are still settling into the flow of the campaign, still forming the identities that will define them over the course of 162 games. A quick glance at Washington’s results through the first couple weeks may lead one to wonder what kind of team these 2013 Nationals truly are. But before jumping to any conclusions, positive or negative, take heed from someone who knows best.

“You’re never as bad as you look when you lose, and never as good as you look when you win,” said skipper Davey Johnson after the weekend series against the Braves.

He echoed that sentiment after Monday night’s 10-3, series-opening thrashing of the Marlins.

Jordan Zimmermann steadied the ship and gave the bullpen a day off.

Jordan Zimmermann steadied the ship and gave the bullpen a day off.

“You know, we don’t live in the past,” he said. “We don’t worry too much about things. We take it one day at a time, and this was a perfect example.”

The Nationals snapped out of their weekend funk with a roaring first inning, scoring four runs before Jordan Zimmermann ever took the mound. They added on with two more in the third, fourth and fifth to open up a 10-0 advantage behind their workmanlike third ace, who delivered his first-ever, nine-inning complete game. While it was a big game to reverse momentum and preserve the bullpen, it was only fitting that the even-keeled Zimmermann controlled the tempo throughout. Nevertheless, he allowed himself to relish in his accomplishment.

“It means a lot,” he said of his 103-pitch performance. “It means I’m doing my job, staying in the game, putting up zeroes. That’s the kind of pitcher I want to be. I want to be a workhorse.”

Zimmermann, who was the first Nationals starter to two wins, now leads the team and shares the league lead with three, to go along with his 2.45 ERA. After getting precious little run support through much of his 12-win campaign last year, he has been the beneficiary of 21 runs of offense through his first three outings this season.

“It seems like we all hit better when Jordan pitches,” said Ian Desmond, whose 4-for-5 night raised his average to .320 for the season. “Last year, we didn’t hit for him. This year, we’re hitting for him.”

Zimmermann will not finish the year 33-0 with a win in every start. The Nationals will not win every game they play against Miami this season, nor lose every one against Atlanta. It is important to keep perspective, especially considering this – entering play on June 4 last season, 39 games farther into the campaign than they currently sit, the Nationals were in a three-way tie for first place with Miami and the New York Mets. Seriously, see for yourself.

Regardless of how much stock you want to put in a single game’s outcome, though, it was a good night to get a win and get back on track.

What to Watch for: 4.14.13

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Atlanta Braves (10-1) vs. Washington Nationals (7-4)

LHP Paul Maholm (2-0, 0.00) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (1-0, 0.82)

Washington looks to wrap up a winning homestand as the Nationals try to salvage the final game of a three-game set with Atlanta Sunday afternoon. In a battle of undefeated southpaws, the Nats send Gio Gonzalez against Braves lefty Paul Maholm.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Werth RF

3. Harper LF

4. Zimmerman 3B

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Desmond SS

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Gonzalez LHP

FOR STARTERS …

The Braves have handed the Nationals a pair of losses here the last 48 hours despite strong efforts on Friday from Ross Detwiler (7.0 innings, one run allowed) and on Saturday from Stephen Strasburg (6.0 innings, two unearned runs allowed). Collectively, Washington’s two starters have posted a 0.69 ERA (1 ER/13.0 IP), a 4.0/1 K-to-BB ratio, and a .191 batting average against in the two losses.

MASHING MEANINGFULLY

Bryce Harper team-best fifth homer in the first inning on Friday provided Washington an early 2-0 lead. Four of Harper’s five homers this year have either tied the game or given the Nationals the lead.

EXTRA, EXTRA READ ALL ABOUT IT!

The Nationals pace the NL as 41.6 percent of their hits this season have gone for extra bases. In ‘13, Washington’s 89 hits include 18 doubles, two triples and 17 home runs. The Mets rank second in extra-base hit rate at 39.4%.

Highlights: 4.13.13

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4.13.13 – Braves 3, Nationals 1

Stat of the Game: Stephen Strasburg surrendered just a pair of unearned runs over six innings of work, striking out seven Atlanta batters, but took the tough-luck loss.

Under-the-Radar Performance: The lone tally for the Nats came off the bat of Danny Espinosa, who drilled his first home run of the year off Braves starter Time Hudson in the fifth inning.

It Was Over When: The Braves added a key insurance run in the top of the ninth, as Jason Heyward was able to leg out the back end of a potential inning-ending double-play ball with the bases loaded.

What to Watch for: 4.13.13

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Atlanta Braves (9-1) vs. Washington Nationals (7-3)

RHP Tim Hudson (1-0, 3.27) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (1-1, 4.38)

The Nationals and Braves meet for the second of this three-game set following Atlanta’s 6-4, 10-inning victory Friday night. In a matchup of Opening Day starters, Tim Hudson and Stephen Strasburg meet up in the Saturday matinee.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Werth RF

3. Harper LF

4. Zimmerman 3B

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Desmond SS

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Ramos C

9. Strasburg RHP

DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN

At 7-3, the Nationals have matched their finest 10-game start since arriving in D.C. in 2005. Last season, Davey Johnson’s Nationals also jumped out to a 7-3 start and subsequently won seven of their next eight to post a 14-4 mark at the conclusion of play on April 25.

DET OF GRATITUDE, AND LITTLE ELSE

Despite facing two of baseball’s best offenses (Reds, Braves) and twice departing in line for the win, Ross Detwiler has been rendered a pair of no-decisions in two starts this season. Detwiler is, in fact, one of only two big league pitchers to work at least 13.0 innings and allow one earned run or less, but go without a win this season. The other is Carlos Villanueva, who has tossed 14.0 innings of one-run ball over two starts for the Cubs.

SPAN THE MAN

Denard Span has reached base safely at least twice in seven of Washington’s 10 contests this year. He has enjoyed three multi-hit efforts as well as a trio of multi-walk contests. Span has registered at least one hit and one walk five times already this year.

What to Watch for: 4.12.13

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Atlanta Braves (8-1) vs. Washington Nationals (7-2)

RHP Julio Teheran (0-0, 9.00) vs. LHP Ross Detwiler (0-0, 0.00)

The Nationals take on the division-rival Braves for the first time in 2013 after finishing off their second consecutive home sweep to key a 6-0 record so far at Nationals Park. Washington went 10-8 vs. Atlanta last season, including a 5-4 mark at home.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Werth RF

3. Harper LF

4. Zimmerman 3B

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Desmond SS

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Detwiler LHP

TOP HEAVY

During the Nationals three-game sweep of the White Sox, the top three hitters in Davey Johnson’s lineup – Denard Span, Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper – combined to hit .471 (16-for-34) with a double, two home runs, seven RBI, four walks, two stolen bases and 11 runs scored.

ATTENTION SPAN!

Denard Span’s .475 on-base percentage is noteworthy beyond the fact that it ranks fourth among all MLB leadoff hitters. As recently as 2011, Washington ranked dead last in MLB with a .285 OBP from the leadoff slot. Last year, the Nationals improved to 18th in MLB with a .325 OBP from those batting first in Davey Johnson’s batting order.

GRAND-IOSE OCCASION ON THE HORIZON

Ryan Zimmerman has played in 999 career games. Zimmerman will become the first National to play in 1000 games in tonight’s series opener vs. Atlanta.

A WAR Accord

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The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry.­ – Robert Burns

Back in late January, as we planned out the feature articles that would appear in Issue 1 of Nationals Magazine (pick up a copy at the ballpark today!) this season, we decided to tackle a baseball statistic that had become one of the game’s biggest contentions: Wins Above Replacement, or WAR. No sooner did we pen the article than outlets across the sport posted similar pieces, outlining many of the same arguments as us. Still, we included a unique angle in our analysis, comparing the net change in WAR of the Nationals and Braves entering 2013, taking into account the three most high-profile replacements on each team during the offseason.

But then two more developments hit us over the past week.

First, our computations for the third and final section of the article, the one that compared the NL East rivals’ offseason moves, included only offensive totals for each team. As a result, our team totals were off. The second revelation, however, rendered that first one obsolete. FanGraphs and Baseball Reference, the two sites who kept different versions of the WAR statistic, joined together to come to terms on a redefined level of “replacement player,” thereby ripping up all of our hard-worked math and throwing it out the window anyway.

But hey, that’s just another reason why we’ve gone digital with our publications this year. Now we have a chance to update you with the new, correct numbers, which are an improved way of measuring the players anyway, now that there is a consistent baseline from which to project. And in spite of the change, the numbers still illustrate the underlying point of our article – according to WAR, the Nationals got better through their offseason acquisitions. The Braves? Well, not so much.

So here are the new numbers, as simple as we can give them to you. The Nationals combined for a total WAR of 44.2 in 2012, while the Braves notched a slightly lower 42.4, numbers which played out closely on the field as Washington won the division by four games. Heading into 2013, both teams essentially swapped three major players out and three players in. The newly tabulated 2012 WAR values of those players is ascribed as follows:

Nationals                                Braves

Outgoing                                    Outgoing

Michael Morse (0.0)               Michael Bourn (6.1)

Edwin Jackson (2.2)               Martin Prado (5.6)

Sean Burnett (0.9)                   Chipper Jones (2.6)

Total = 3.1 WAR                       Total = 14.3 WAR

Incoming                                    Incoming

Denard Span (3.6)                     B.J. Upton (3.1)

Dan Haren (1.8)                        Justin Upton (2.0)

Rafael Soriano (1.2)                 Chris Johnson (1.3)

Total = 6.6 WAR                        Total = 6.4 WAR

Net = +3.5 WAR                     Net = -7.9 WAR

Essentially, while the Nationals added an expected 3.5 wins (not to mention the fact that Dan Haren averaged 5.5 WAR per season in his previous four years, a good sign that he can improve on his 1.8 total of last season) the Braves actually LOST 7.9 expected wins. That’s a swing of 11.4 WAR between the two clubs, even higher than our original article’s combined total of 10.6.

So for all our troubles, the news turned out to be even better than we’d originally reported after all.

Healthy Signs

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The Nationals did not have many questions entering camp this year. They have even fewer as they enter their final game of the Grapefruit League season, after which they will fly north to The District to begin the season ahead. With much of the 25-man roster presumed to be in place before the club even arrived in Viera, there were two major points of concern upon which most of the focus lay all spring: Wilson Ramos’s knee and Ryan Zimmerman’s shoulder.

Both were coming off of offseason surgery, but both have steadily progressed through spring. If there were any lingering doubts left in the final 24 hours of their stay in Florida, each put them to bed Wednesday afternoon. Ramos blasted a pair of home runs and Zimmerman crushed three of Washington’s six total long balls in an 11-2 demolition of the division-rival Braves.

Pain free and catching full games again, Wilson Ramos can focus fully on his swing.

Pain free and catching full games again, Wilson Ramos can focus fully on his swing.

Ramos went the other way to right-center for his first roundtripper in the third inning. He followed that up with a mammoth blast to left in the fourth, off the top of the berm at Space Coast Stadium, just at the foot of the electronic scoreboard. They were the catcher’s first two home runs of the spring, but they came at a time when he is finally pain free and able to put all of the focus on his knee behind him.

“In the beginning of spring, I wasn’t working on my swing at all,” explained the backstop. “Three days ago, I finally started working on it.”

The results have paid off immediately.

Zimmerman, meanwhile, rounded into form just as expected. It’s been said repeatedly by manager Davey Johnson that the Nationals third baseman needs exactly 50 at-bats – no more, no less – to get ready for the season. Zimmerman entered the game sitting on 48 for the spring and struck out in his first trip. He then blasted home runs in spring at-bats numbers 50, 51 and 52, sandwiching a couple of moonshots to left around an opposite-field shot over a four-inning span.

With the luxury of gradually easing his way back into playing shape, knowing his skipper had a firm grasp on his projected starting lineup, Zimmerman looks comfortable and refreshed as the team begins packing for the season ahead.

“We’ve pretty much known all spring who our team is,” he said, referencing the unusually high number of returning players entrenched on the roster. “We just used this time to get to doing what we did last year.”

Nats Back at the Lake

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The Nationals are back in Lake Buena Vista Friday night for Jordan Zimmermann’s second start of the spring at they take on the Braves once again. Washington played its second extra-inning tie in its first six games of the Grapefruit League slate Thursday night, drawing even at 4-4 with the Mets in Viera. Here’s tonight’s lineup, as well as a full list of results to date:

1. Espinosa SS

2. Lombardozzi 2B

3. Harper CF

4. Moore DH

5. Tracy 3B

6. Marrero 1B

7. Brown LF

8. Leon C

9. Perez RF

P. Zimmermann

Results:

2/23 @ New York (NL) – L, 5-3

2/24 vs. Miami – T, 2-2

2/25 @ New York (NL) – W, 6-4

2/26 @ Atlanta – L, 9-5

2/27 vs. Miami – L, 5-1

2/28 vs. New York (NL) – T, 4-4

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