Strasburg vs Teheran Top 5:
5. Quick Recap: Washington Nationals' right-hander Stephen Strasburg faced the Atlanta Braves five times last season, but came away with only one decision, a loss in a 3-1 game in April. Criminally unsupported in his starts against the Nats' NL East rivals in his career, with two runs or less in eight of his 12 outings against the Braves, the Nats' 25-year-old, '09 no.1 overall pick entered tonight's game winless against Atlanta since last beating them on August 21, 2012. Over 22 IP vs the Braves in 2013, he struck out 22 batters and posted a 2.86 ERA with 20 hits, nine runs, seven earned and eight walks allowed on the year.
Strasburg got two runs of support early tonight, when Adam LaRoche hit a two-out, two-run home run to right in the first, giving the Nats' starter a lead to work with after a half inning on the hill.
Ryan Zimmerman committed his second error of the season in the Braves' fourth, throwing one over Adam LaRoche at first on what should have been out no.3, and it led to two unearned runs scoring as Atlanta tied things up at 2-2 after four.
Strasburg ended up throwing 95 pitches total in 4 1/3 IP. Dan Uggla hit a bases-loaded single to left in the top of the fifth, driving two runs in and improving to 12 for 30 career vs the Nats' right-hander and Ryan Doumit and Andrelton Simmons drove in a run each with an RBI single and sac fly, respectively, as Atlanta took a 6-2 lead.
The Nationals threatened in the sixth, with Jose Lobaton walking and Kevin Frandsen singling to put two on, but after Denard Span grounded into a force at second, Bryce Harper hit what looked like a sac fly to center until B.J. Upton caught it coming in and threw a strike to home plate where Ryan Doumit tagged Lobaton for the final out of the inning. 8-2 DP.
Braves win, 6-2 final.
4. Ban The Change! It's Too Filthy!!!: Jason Heyward entered tonight's game 9 for 20 (.450/.522/.650) with a double, home run, two walks and two Ks in 23 career plate appearances vs Stephen Strasburg in their respective careers. The Atlanta Braves' 24-year-old right fielder had three Ks in 24 PAs after swinging through a 97 mph 2-2 fastball as the Washington Nationals' right-hander got off to a good start in a windy 55° degree Nationals Park, where the NL East rivals played the second game of their three-game weekend set tonight. Strasburg got B.J. Upton swinging too, with an 0-2 change, but walked Freddie Freeman in front of Chris Johnson, whose double to the left-center gap put runners on the corners with two down. An 0-1 curve to B.J.'s brother Justin Upton got a groundout to third, however, and Ryan Zimmerman threw to second for the force to end an 18-pitch top of the first.
2nd: Dan Uggla popped a 2-0 fastball up to Denard Span in center field to start the Braves' second. Ryan Doumit hit an 89 mph 2-1 change to Anthony Rendon at second. Andrelton Simmons was first-pitch swinging and he popped out to center too, sending a 95 mph fastball out to Span ending a quick, eight-pitch, 1-2-3 second that left Strasburg at 26 pitches total after two.
3rd: Three straight fastballs from Strasburg sent Julio Teheran back to the bench for the first out of the third and K no. 3 in 2 1/3 IP. Jason Heyward was 9 for 22 career vs Strasburg after he popped a 1-1 fastball up to short left field where Ian Desmond caught out no.2 of the Braves' third. B.J. Upton got to a full count and sent a 79 mph curve to left that landed just inside the chalk line according to third base ump Cory Blaser. Freddie Freeman, who posted a ridiculous .443/.541/.695 line with runners in scoring position in 2013 got to a full count too, and walked with two down to bring Chris Johnson to the plate, but the Braves' third baseman fell behind 0-2 quickly and chased a 1-2 change outside to end a 22-pitch inning that left Strasburg at 48 overall after three.
4th: Justin Upton took a first-pitch fastball back up the middle for a leadoff single and the Braves' third hit off Strasburg on the night. Dan Uggla was way out in front of an 86 mph 1-1 change, so Strasburg threw it again to get the second baseman swinging for out no.1 of the fourth and K no.5 on the night. Ryan Doumit took an 0-2 change on which Upton stole second base, but Doumit hit a 79 mph 1-2 curve out to center for the second out of the inning. Andrelton Simmons stepped in with a runner on second and two down and hit a 2-2 change to third that Ryan Zimmerman fielded before... throwing it away, over Adam LaRoche at first for an E:5 that allowed the Braves' first run to score. 2-1 Nats.
A line drive opposite field single by Julio Teheran in the next at bat tied things up and an 18-pitch fourth inning for Strasburg ended when Jason Heyward popped to Adam LaRoche in foul territory off first. 9 for 23 vs Stras for Heyward. 66 pitches overall for the Nationals' starter.
5th: B.J. Upton K'd swinging through a 96 mph 2-2 fastball in the first at bat of the fifth. K no.6. Freddie Freeman walked for the third time in three trips to the plate in front of Chris Johnson, and took second when Johnson lined a 2-2 curve to center for a one-out single. The Braves loaded the bases with one down when Justin Upton lined a single to center on a 1-1 curve and Dan Uggla took a 1-0 curveball to left for a two-run single and a 4-2 Braves' lead. Ryan Doumit worked the count full in the next at bat, and lined a 78 mph change to right to bring in Atlanta's fifth run of the game on Strasburg's 96th and final pitch of the night.
Uggla now 12-for-30 with two homers and 10 RBIs vs. Strasburg— David O'Brien (@ajcbraves) April 6, 2014
Strasburg's line: 4.1 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 6 Ks, 96 P, 59 S, 3/3 GO/FO.
3. Adam Bomb: The right field wall in Nationals Park is 335 ft from home plate in the corner. Behind the right field wall is the Nats' bullpen. Behind that there are five or so rows squeezed in below the second deck and about twenty rows of stands before you get to the third level. On the facade of the third, or upper deck is Jackie Robinson's retired no.42 with his name on the far right field end of the so-called Ring of Honor. Some lucky fan up there got a souvenir tonight from Adam LaRoche, whose two-out, two-run home run off Braves' starter Julio Teheran on a 2-2 slider gave the Nationals a 2-0 lead early in the second game of three with Atlanta in D.C. LaRoche's second home run of the year made it 2-0 Nats after one.
2. E:5: It's time we talked about Ryan Zimmerman. Okay, it's well past time at this point. Zimmerman was taking grounders at first during batting practice on Saturday afternoon. He played a couple innings there this spring with a eye on getting comfortable at first in case he needed to spell Adam LaRoche against particularly tough lefties, but with Zimmerman's continued throwing issues carrying over into this season, over a year removed from shoulder to clear up his shoulder, the Nationals have to be wondering if they can trust the 29-year-old "Face of the Franchise." Matt Williams lifted Zimmerman after the fifth, putting Danny Espinosa in at second and shifting Anthony Rendon to third. It will be interesting to hear what the Nats' skipper has to say in the post game...
1. Braves 9-2 In Last 11 In D.C.: The Nationals threatened in fifth, but Bryce Harper lined to center with runners on the corners, and B.J. Upton caught it before throwing a strike to Ryan Doumit at the plate where he tagged Jose Lobaton for an inning-ending 8-2 DP. Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche reached on a HBP and walk, respectively, in the home-half of the sixth, but both runners were stranded on base three outs later. Ross Detwiler gave up four hits, but no runs in two scoreless innings of work in relief. Jerry Blevins threw a scoreless eighth. Drew Storen threw a scoreless ninth.
Braves' starter Julio Teheran gave up Adam LaRoche's two-run home run in the first, then shut the Nationals down, giving up just two singles over the next six innings of work to earn the win. 6-2 final.
Nationals now 3-2