Sunday Top 5:
5. Quick Recap: Taylor Jordan, 25, worked his way up from High-A Potomac to the majors in 2013, debuting with the Washington Nationals who drafted him in the 9th Round of the 2009 Draft in June and making nine starts in which he was (1-3) with a 3.66 ERA, a 3.49 FIP, 11 walks (1.92 BB/9) and 29 Ks (5.05 K/9) in 51 2/3 IP, finishing the year at +0.7 fWAR. Alex Wood, 23, debuted in May last summer, after three seasons in Atlanta's system, and the 2012 2nd Round pick made 31 appearances for the Braves, 11 as a starter, posting a 3.13 ERA, 2.65 FIP, 27 walks (3.86 BB/9) and 77 Ks (8.92 K/9) in 77 2/3 IP, over which he was worth +1.6 fWAR.
The Nationals fielded an interesting lineup this afternoon with Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Jose Lobaton all getting the day off, but Nats' skipper Matt Williams' tinkering paid off in the first with Anthony Rendon (bunt single) and Kevin Frandsen (line drive single) reaching base in front of Jayson Werth to start the bottom of the first.
A throwing error by Dan Uggla on Werth's grounder allowed Rendon to score from third and the Nationals took a 1-0 lead early in the finale of the weekend series with the defending NL East champs.
The Braves tied things up at 1-1 in the sixth on a one-out sac fly to left by second baseman Dan Uggla that scored Freddie Freeman from third after Freeman singled and took two bases on a Chris Johnson double.
Wood retired 18 of 19 batters after the first three Nationals reached in the bottom of the first inning, with the only Nationals runner to get on reaching on a throwing error by Uggla in the fifth.
Taylor Jordan and Jerry Blevins combined for a scoreless top of the seventh inning, and Ian Desmond took the first pitch of the bottom of the frame to deep left field and almost onto the center field concourse to make it a 2-1 game after seven in the nation's capital.
Jerry Blevins, Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano finished it off, and the Nats beat the Braves to salvage the series finale and improve to 4-2 on the year.
4. Ground Ball Machine: This afternoon's game started with an error on a grounder to second by Atlanta Braves' leadoff man Jason Heyward that Danny Espinosa bobbled before throwing late to first. Taylor Jordan quickly worked around the E4, however, getting a groundout to short from B.J. Upton that started a 6-4-3 DP, and a groundout to second from Chris Johnson that ended a seven-pitch top of the first.
2nd: Braves' third baseman Chris Johnson sent a rare fly ball out to right on Taylor Jordan's second pitch of the second inning. Justin Upton hit a 92 mph 1-2 fastball to left for a one-out single, but Dan Uggla flew out to Nate McLouth in center on a 1-0 four-seamer for out no.2. Gerald Laird hit a first-pitch fastball to right for a two-out, line drive single, but Andrelton Simmons grounded into a force at second to end an 11-pitch inning. Still 1-0 Nats. 18 pitches overall for Jordan. Four groundouts.
3rd: Ian Desmond made a range-y play behind second and a strong spinning throw to get Braves' starter Alex Wood for the first out of the third and Jordan's fifth ground ball out of the game. + Range, + Arm, +Slowfootedpitcher. Jason Heyward popped out to short on an 0-1 fastball and B.J. Upton popped up to Adam LaRoche in foul territory off first to end a 13-pitch third that left Jordan at 31 pitches total after three.
4th: Freddie Freeman popped Taylor Jordan's first pitch up to Kevin Frandsen in left to start the top of the fourth inning. Taylor Jordan issued his first walk of the game in the next at bat, putting Chris Johnson on in front of Justin Upton after an eight-pitch battle, and Upton walked too in a five-pitch AB. Danny Espinosa dropped a throw to second from Ian Desmond on Dan Uggla's grounder to short, loading the bases with one down, but Jordan threw a 1-2 sinker by Braves' catcher Gerald Laird, and got a force at second on a grounder to third by Andrelton Simmons to end a long, 25-pitch fourth inning, after which he was up to 56 pitches with a 1-0 lead. Seven groundouts.
5th: A 1-2 curve got Alex Wood looking for the first out of the fifth. Jason Heyward sent groundout no.8 of the game for Taylor Jordan out to second base where Danny Espinosa made the play and throw. B.J. Upton's line drive to Nats' left fielder Kevin Frandsen ended a nine-pitch, 1-2-3 inning that left the Nationals' right-hander at 65 pitches overall after five scoreless innings.
6th: Freddie Freeman pulled a 2-0 fastball through the right side of the infield for a leadoff single off Jordan in the top of the sixth. An 0-1 two-seamer to Chris Johnson ended up in the left field corner for a line drive double that put runners on second and third with no one out. Justin Upton got ahead 3-1, fouled one off to got a full count, but K'd swinging at a 3-2 change. Dan Uggla got hold of a 2-1 fastball, however, and hit one deep enough to left-center to score the tying run, 1-1 game. Gerald Laird's fly to left ended a 17-pitch sixth. 82 overall after six.
7th: Taylor Jordan started the seventh at 82 pitches. Andrelton Simmons hit a 3-1 fastball back up the middle for a leadoff single. Alex Wood bunted Simmons over to second/gave up an out, and at that point, Matt Williams came out to the mound and took the ball from Jordan, bringing lefty Jerry Blevins out of the pen to face Jason Heyward, who K'd swinging through a 2-2 slider for the second out of the inning. Blevins stayed on to face B.J. Upton, and got a low liner to short that Ian Desmond snagged for the final out of the frame. Still a 1-1 game.
Jordan's Line: 6.1 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 Ks, 8/4 GO/FO, 89 P, 54 S.
3. Injuries = Depressing: Ryan Zimmerman was waiting on the results of an MRI on his sore right shoulder, which led to him being lifted from last night's game after an ugly throwing error which cost the Nationals and starter Stephen Strasburg a run. Wilson Ramos is out with broken (and surgically removed hamate bone) in his left hand. Doug Fister is working his way back from a minor right lat strain sustained while he was working his way back from elbow inflammation. It's safe to say the Nationals' 2014 campaign has not started as the Nats hoped. Two straight losses to the Atlanta Braves who took 13 of 19 from the Nats last season didn't help either.
2. Disappearing Offense: The Nationals managed just two hits is six innings off Braves' right-hander Julio Teheran after Adam LaRoche's first inning home run last night. After the first three Nationals reached base this afternoon, ATL lefty Alex Wood retired 12 straight batters to keep things close at 1-0 after four. Sandy Leon broke up that streak with one down in the Nats' fifth when he reached base on an error, but Taylor Jordan bunted Leon over to second and Anthony Rendon K'd looking to end a 10-pitch at bat and make it 15 of 16 set down by Wood after the first.
A 13-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth inning for Wood gave him 18 of 19 batters retired. The seventh wouldn't go as well.
1. DESMOND!!!: Taylor Jordan left the game after 6 1/3 IP at 89 pitches overall, having induced eight ground ball outs from the 27 batters he faced. The right-hander received just one run of support while on the mound, however, leaving little room for error in the third game of three with the Braves in D.C. Jerry Blevins stranded the runner he inherited from Jordan, getting two quick outs with nine pitches. Ian Desmond stepped in for the first at bat of the Nats' half of the inning and hit a first-pitch fastball out to left field for a 2-1 Nats' lead.
Jerry Blevins came back on to get the first out of the eighth, then Williams went to Tyler Clippard, who retired Chris Johnson and Justin Upton to preserve the Nationals' 2-1 lead.
Pitch it, Soriano! Pitch it, Soriano! Strike'em out, Soriano! Strike'em out, Soriano!!
Nationals' closer Rafael Soriano came out for the top of the ninth with a 2-1 lead. Dan Uggla K'd swinging through a 2-2 heater. ONE! Gerald Laird popped out to Adam LaRoche in foul territory off first. Andrelton Simmons... reached safely on an infield single in spite of a diving play and throw by Ian Desmond. Ryan Doumit stepped in as a pinch hitter... worked the count full and hit the second straight infield single. 2 on, 2 out. Jason Heyward got a chance to tie it up with a runner in scoring position at second, and he too worked the count full, taking a close 2-2 pitch before striking out to end it. Ballgame.
Work's done! Untuck that jersey, son! Save no.1 of 2014 for Soriano. Nationals win, 2-1 final.
Nationals now 4-2