June 30, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Washington Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty (43) talks to starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg (37) in the third inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE
• "Right Side": Washington Nationals' leadoff man Danny Espinosa doubled to left from the right side of the plate on the fifth pitch of the first at bat of this afternoon's game with the Atlanta Braves in Turner Field. ATL lefty Mike Minor got back-to-back groundouts from Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman in the next two AB's, but Espinosa took third and scored on the consecutive productive outs for a 1-0 Nationals' lead early. Only a leaping grab by Michael Bourn on a 390ft line drive to center robbed Michael Morse of a two-out extra base hit. 15 pitches for Minor in the top of the first. Bourn took a leadoff walk from Nats' right-hander Stephen Strasburg to start the bottom of the inning. The 23-year-old Nationals' ace went to a full count with Martin Prado and walked the Braves' left fielder too before striking Jason Heyward out with a 96 mph 1-2 fastball for the first out of the inning. Bryce Harper caught a fly ball to center off Freddie Freeman's bat on the warning track in center for out no.2. Dan Uggla, who started the at bat 6 for 11 in his career vs Strasburg, was 6 for 12 after he took another 96 mph 1-2 four-seamer for an inning-ending called strike three. 24-pitch, 2 K first for Stras in Atlanta...
• Strasburg's All DIY-ish: Adam LaRoche doubled to right and into the stands on one hop in the top of the second, then took third on a productive groundout to the right side by Ian Desmond. Tyler Moore couldn't bring LaRoche in like Zimmerman had, however, and the Braves' manager Fredi Gonzalez decided to walk Jesus Flores to bring Strasburg up with two runners on and two out. Not a good idea, Fredi. Strasburg entered the at bat with a .348/.375/.652 line, four doubles and a home run in 15 games and 25 PA's. Atlanta's manager made the mistake and paid for it immediately as Stephen "DIY" Strasburg did it himself, singling to center, over the mound under the pitcher's legs for an RBI hit and a 2-0 Nats' lead. The hit left Strasburg 9 for 24 (.375/.400/.667) on the season after he'd collected his third RBI.
• Desi DP: A 91 mph change after a 96 mph four-seamer got Braves' third baseman Juan Francisco swinging for the final out of a 19-pitch, 1-2-3 second by Stephen Strasburg that had the right-hander up to 43 pitches overall with 3 K's in 2.0 scoreless. Ryan Zimmerman walked with one down in the Nats' third, took second on a scorched single through short by Michael Morse and third on a base-loading walk by Adam LaRoche, but Ian Desmond rolled one right to Dan Uggla at second in the next at bat and the Braves' second baseman turned a quick 6-3 DP to end the top of the third in Turner Field.
• Bourn/Prado BB's Not A Replay: Strasburg struck the opposing pitcher out to retire the seventh-straight batter after he issued back-to-back walks to start the Braves' first. Michael Bourn, one of the two batters who walked in the first, took a one-out walk in the third in front of Martin Prado. Bourn stole second safely after Strasburg threw a 2-1 curve high to Prado, and the Nats' starter missed with the 3-1 pitch too to walk both Braves in consecutive AB's for the second time today. This time Atlanta cashed in on the walks with Jason Heyward lining to left and over a confused Tyler Moore for an RBI double that cut Washington's lead in half, 2-1. A fly to center by Freddie Freeman in the next at bat was deep enough to score Prado from third and it was tied at 2-2. Dan Uggla (6 for 12) was 7 for 13 and the Braves were up 3-2 after the second baseman doubled to left on a 1-0 fastball to give Atlanta the lead after three. A 24-pitch inning had Strasburg at 67 pitches overall.
• Strasburg... Done?: Mike Minor struck out the first two Nats he faced in the fourth, then walked Stephen Strasburg, issuing the opposing pitcher his first career free pass. Danny Espinosa flew out to center in the next at bat though, and Minor was through a 17-pitch fourth at 68 pitches overall. After running out the fly on the basepaths, Strasburg went back to the dugout, but didn't return to the mound. Nats' skipper Davey Johnson came out to talk to home plate umpire Marvin Hudson and Nats' right-hander Chien-Ming Wang made his way in from the bullpen. Strasburg was shown on the broadcast heading down to ask pitching coach Steve McCatty what was going on only to discover he'd been lifted after just 3.0 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB's, 4 K's, 67 pitches, 37 strikes and three fly ball outs. No immediate word on why the Nationals made the decision but someone's sure to ask after the game if there's no explanation beforehand. (ed. note - "It was later described as "heat-related" issues.")
• WANG!!!: Andrelton Simmons reached first safely on a high chopper to third to start the fourth. Zimmerman made the play and threw to LaRoche, but a headfirst slide actually worked for once as the Braves' shortstop beat the ball to the bag. Juan Francisco doubled to right in the next at bat, bringing Simmons around from first for a 4-2 Braves' lead on the second straight hit off of Wang. Mike Minor bunted Francisco over and an RBI double by Michael Bourn brought the Braves' 5th run in. Bourn then took second on a wild pitch and scored on a sac fly to center by Prado. 6-2 Atlanta after four.
• 5.0 IP = Minor Achievement: Mike Minor threw a quick, 8-pitch, 1-2-3 top of the fifth, after which Chien-Ming Wang gave up a leadoff single to Freddie Freeman. Two outs later, with Freeman on third, Andrelton Simmons drove the Atlanta Braves' seventh run in with an RBI single to center. Wang completed a 15-pitch bottom of the inning with 38 pitches on his arm overall. Minor gave up a leadoff walk (his second) to Adam LaRoche in the Nationals' sixth, and after Ian Desmond followed with his 23rd double of the year on a line drive to right, there were two runners in scoring position when Minor was lifted. Kris Medlen took over for Atlanta. Tyler Moore singled to the grass in short center to bring LaRoche in and Jesus Flores lined to left to score Desmond and make it 7-4 before Medlen got a double play grounder from Rick Ankiel and swinging K from Danny Espinosa, who struck out for the 87th in 2012, to end the inning.
• Bourn Non-E = Double: Martin Prado hit a two-out double to right off Tom Gorzelanny in the bottom of the sixth. Prado's 21st two-bagger. A two-out walk to Jason Heyward followed, but Gorzelanny covered first on a groundout to Adam LaRoche by Freddie Freeman and completed a 17-pitch inning. Michael Morse singled to right with one down in the top of the seventh, then took second on a wild pitch before scoring on a line drive to center by Adam LaRoche that Michael Bourn misjudged into an RBI double. Bourn had the liner sail right over his head for LaRoche's second two-base hit of the game and his 18th of 2012. 7-5 Atlanta in the seventh. Chad Durbin took over for Medlen and issued back-to-back walks to Ian Desmond and Tyler Moore to load the bases, but Jesus Flores rolled into a force at second to end the Nats' seventh with the score still 7-5 Braves.
• No Comeback: Tom Gorzelanny gave up a two-out single by Andrelton Simmons, but was able to strike Juan Francisco out to end the bottom of the seventh. Braves' lefty Eric O'Flaherty retired the Nationals in order in the top of the eighth, with Bryce Harper just missing a 91 mph 2-2 fastball that fell into Michael Bourn's glove on the track 10ft or so short of a home run. 7-5 Braves after seven and a 1/2. Michael Gonzalez gave up a one-out walk in the bottom of the eighth, but threw a scoreless inning in Turner Field. Craig Kimbrel took over for Atlanta in the ninth. Ryan Zimmerman grounded out to second. Michael Morse K'd swinging. Two down... and Adam LaRoche couldn't hold up on a two-strike slider in the dirt. Ballgame. Braves win, 7-5 final.
104F at first pitch, this is officially the hottest game in Nationals ('05-pres.) history (thanks Elias). #hydrate— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) June 30, 2012
• Miss The Game? The D.C. Faithful Were Watching...
• Doghouse's Post Game WPA Graph: COMING SOON!!!
Nationals now 44-32.