"We're going to go into D.C. with a little bit of a chip on our shoulders." - Ryan Doumit Top 5:
5. Quick Recap: Three straight one-out singles loaded the bases for the Atlanta Braves in the top of the fourth inning in Nationals Park, and a two-run single to center by Chris Johnson on a 3-1 slider, put the visiting team up 2-0 on Jordan Zimmermann and the Washington Nationals in the first game of the four-game weekend set in the nation's capital.
Braves' starter Gavin Floyd plowed through the Nationals' batters, completing six scoreless on 63 pitches, but left the game one pitch into the seventh after a visit from the trainer in which they looked briefly at his elbow.
Atlanta added a run in the eighth with Freddie Freeman doubling, taking third on a single by Evan Gattis and scoring on a grounder to the mound and off Jerry Blevins by Chris Johnson, who made it a 3-0 game with his infield "hit."
That's how it ended, 3-0 Braves final.
4. Zimmermann vs ATL: Nationals' right-hander Jordan Zimmermann threw a 76-pitch, eight-inning complete game in his last outing against the Cardinals in St. Louis, MO's Busch Stadium, but took the loss in what ended up a 1-0 game in the Cards' favor.
The start left the 28-year-old right-hander with a 0.36 ERA, a 2.18 FIP, two walks (0.72 BB/9) and 22 Ks (7.56 K/9) in 25 IP so far in June, over which he's held the opposition to a combined .121/.141/.193 line.
"He's been really good," Nats' skipper Matt Williams told reporters after the game against the Cardinals.
"Hung a changeup to [Matt] Adams and didn't get that pitch where he wanted to get it, but other than that, he induced some double plays and we played good defense behind him, we just didn't scratch one across tonight, but that's a testament to how their guy pitched."
The idea of "one bad pitch" causing a loss is a baseball cliche, but this was an instance where it was actually the case.
"I had a good fastball again tonight and down in the zone," Zimmermann said. "And the curveball and sliders were there when I wanted them. Really it was one mistake on a changeup that was down the middle and [Adams] made me pay."
"It was right down the middle," Zimmermann explained when asked about the changeup he threw to the Cardinals' slugger, who hit home runs in each game of the three-game series.
"[Tried] to throw it down and away and have him roll over. The at bats after that I just threw fastball down and away and he grounded out."
Zimmermann left St. Louis with a (5-3) record so far in 2014, a 2.98 ERA, 2.98 FIP, 15 walks (1.59 BB/9) and 71 Ks (7.55 K/9) in 84 ⅔ IP.
Tonight in Nationals Park, the Nats' 07 2nd Round pick was facing the Atlanta Braves for the ninth time in his major league career.
In his previous eight outings against Atlanta, Zimmermann was (3-1) with a 2.98 ERA, 12 walks (2.38 BB/9) and 45 Ks (8.93 K/9) in 45 ⅓ IP, over which he held Braves' hitters to a combined .231/.288/.396 line.
Zimmermann started tonight's game with a groundout to first on which he had to cover the bag...
1st: Tommy La Stella grounded out to first, where Adam LaRoche made the play and throw to the covering pitcher. B.J. Upton fell behind 0-2 quickly and took a 95 mph 1-2 heater inside for a called strike three. Freddie Freeman stepped in with the bases empty and two down and grounded out to second to end a quick, nine-pitch, 1-2-3 frame.
2nd: Evan Gattis grounded out to Anthony Rendon at third for the first out of the second, but Jason Heyward hit a broken-bat single to left in the next at bat on which Ryan Zimmerman got a bad jump. Chris Johnson grounded out to third for out no.2. Ryan Doumit's fly to center ended a 17-pitch second after which Zimmermann was up to 26 pitches.
• Random In-Game Tweet, just because it's beautiful:
3rd: Andrelton Simmons sent a weak roller back to the mound. Gavin Floyd fell behind 0-2 and K'd swinging at a 1-2 slider. Tommy La Stella popped out to left on a 95 mph 1-2 fastball for out no.3. 12-pitch inning, 38 overall after three scoreless.
4th: B.J. Upton grounded out to second, but Freddie Freeman singled to center in the next at bat. Evan Gattis stepped in with a runner on and ripped a line drive to left to extend his current hit streak to 18 games. Braves' right fielder Jason Heyward dropped a base-loading single into short-center. Zimmermann fell behind Chris Johnson, 3-1, when he missed with a fastball high in the zone, and Johnson took a slider to center on the next pitch for a two-run single that made it 2-0 Braves. Ryan Doumit popped to center for out no.2. Andrelton Simmons stepped up with two on and two out and K'd swinging at a 94 mph 2-2 heater. 21-pitch inning for Zimmermann, 59 overall after four.
5th: Gavin Floyd K'd swinging. Tommy La Stella flew out to left. B.J. Upton's line drive to second ended a five-pitch frame. 64 total after five.
6th: Freddie Freeman hit a broken-bat fly to center for out no.1 in the sixth. Evan Gattis flew out to Span for out no.2. Jason Heyward took a two-out walk in front of Chris Johnson, but a lineout to short on a 1-0 curve ended an 11-pitch inning after which Zimmermann was up to 75 pitches.
7th: Ryan Doumit popped out to third to start the Braves' seventh. Andrelton Simmons lined to right for a one-out single. Gavin Floyd K'd trying to bunt the runner over. Tommy La Stella lined to left-center for a two-out single, but B.J. Upton K'd looking at a full-count fastball inside to end a 22-pitch frame at 97 total.
• Jordan Zimmermann's Line: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 Ks, 97 P, 64 S, 6/6 GO/FO.
• 3. Floyd the Barber: In his first season with Atlanta after signing a 1-year/$4M deal with the Braves this past December, Gavin Floyd, 31, started the year late after rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.
In eight starts before tonight since he made his 2014 debut on May 6th, the 11-year veteran put up a 2.98 ERA, a 4.03 FIP, 12 walks (2.23 BB/9) and 39 Ks (7.26 K/9) in 48 ⅓ IP, over which he'd held opposing hitters to a .280/.330/.407 line.
In the series opener for Atlanta in the nation's capital tonight, Floyd was facing the Washington Nationals for the seventh time in his career, having gone (1-2) in his previous six outings, four of them starts, in which he put up a 4.45 ERA with 13 walks (3.62 BB/9) and 28 Ks (7.79 K/9) in 32 ⅓ IP over which he held Nats' hitters to a combined .275/.362/.475 line.
Tonight in D.C., Floyd started the game with an 11-pitch, 1-2-3 opening frame.
Danny Espinosa singled for the Nationals' first hit off the Braves' starter in the first at bat of the Nats' third, but three outs later he was stranded at second at the end of an eight-pitch inning. 33 pitches total for Floyd.
Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth K'd swinging to start the fourth with the fourth and fifth straight outs for Gavin Floyd. Adam LaRoche's fly to left ended another quick inning. Eight pitches, 41 total after four.
Floyd tried to walk off the mound after striking Ian Desmond out for the second out of the fifth, but he had to come back to face Danny Espinosa, who grounded back to the mound to actually end a nine-pitch inning. 50 pitches total for Floyd after five scoreless.
Denard Span slowed Floyd's roll with a two-out double to center in the Nationals' sixth, but Anthony Rendon's fly to Jason Heyward in right ended a 13-pitch inning by the Braves' starter, who was up to 63 pitches after six.
One pitch into the seventh, however, Floyd left the mound abruptly after a mound visit from the trainer in which he looked at his elbow...
RHP Gavin Floyd left tonight's game with posterior swelling of his right elbow. Has been taken for x-rays and will see the Nats doctor after— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) June 20, 2014
• Gavin Floyd's Line: 6.0 IP, 2 H. 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 Ks, 64 P, 46 S, 6/3 GO/FO.
2. Nats vs Braves: Yes, the Atlanta Braves did enter this weekend's four-game set with a 5-1 record against the Nationals this season and an 18-7 record against Washington since the start of the 2013 campaign, but as the Nats mentioned in their pregame notes, six of Atlanta's 13 wins last year came in one-run games, so the Braves haven't exactly dominated the Nationals in spite of the lopsided record.
The NL East's second-place team came into Nationals Park this weekend looking to turn things around, however, after dropping three straight to the Philadelphia Phillies at home in Turner Field.
The Braves were confident coming in though, with outfielder/bench bat Ryan Doumit telling reporters, including AP writer Charles Odum, "'We're going to go into D.C. with a little bit of a chip on our shoulders... This wasn't a good series. It left a bad taste in our mouths, but we're going to go take it out on the Nationals.'"
Atlanta improved to 6-1 this season and 19-7 against the Nationals in the last two years with tonight's win.
1. The Wrap-Up: Anthony Varvaro took over for Gavin Floyd one pitch into the seventh and gave up a leadoff double by Jayson Werth in the first at bat, but three groundouts to short later, Werth was stranded. 2-0 Braves after seven.
Jerry Blevins gave up a leadoff double to center by Freddie Freeman and a single by Evan Gattis in the first two at bats of the eighth. One out later, Chris Johnson hit a low liner off Blevins on the mound for an RBI single and a 3-0 lead after seven and a half.
Jordan Walden took over for Atlanta in the eighth and retired the Nationals in order.
Craig Stammen threw a scoreless top of the ninth.
Craig Kimbrel came on to close it out and earned his 21st save. 3-0 Braves final.
Nationals now 37-34