Four More K's For Three G's for John Smoltz...
Atlanta Braves' Living Legend John Smoltz doesn't get any closer to 3,000 K's, but he retires the Washington Nationals in order in the first half-inning of tonight's game at Turner Field, in Hotlanta, GA. Nationals' lefty John Lannan had 11 K's last time out against the Mets, and he gets his first tonight from Yunel Escoar, who goes down swinging, on the way to a scoreless first.
Smoltz gets Nick Johnson looking at a 2-2 slider inside for the 2,997th K of his career. 2,998 comes one batter later when he drops an 1-2 slider on the inside corner that completely fools Austin Kearns. Smoltz then throws two balls to Lastings Milledge and then a fastball that Milledge lines to center for a two-out double. Willie Harris works the count full, and then takes a hanging slider to right for an RBI double over Jeff Francouer's head. Milledge trots home. 1-0 Nationals. John Lannan gives up a one-out walk to Francouer and a two-out single to Matt Diaz in the Braves' second, but pops up Mark Kotsay for his second scoreless frame.
John Smoltz drops a brutal 2-2 slider on the opposing pitcher, John Lannan, for K number 2,999. 2-2 splitter inside and low to Felipe Lopez, who swings about a foot over the ball for JOHN SMOLTZ'S 3,000th Career K...(ed. note - "Smoltz was pitching like he wanted to get it over with and get on with the game...")
...John Lannan gives up a two-out single to Yunel Escobar, bringing up Chipper Jones in the bottom of the inning. C.Jones backs Austin Kearns up to the warning track, but Kearns closes his glove on the third.
Smoltz slides one off the plate and gets Ryan Zimmerman swinging for 3,001. Smoltz breaks the slider inside on a defenseless Nick Johnson. Austin Kearns grounds to short, Yunel Escobar double pumps and throws to first to end the top of the fourth. In the bottom of the frame, Lannan gives up a one-out single to center by Jeff Francouer, and then takes a line drive in the leg off the bat of Matt Diaz to put two on with two out. Mark Kotsay chases an 0-2 fastball out of the zone for Lannan's fourth K of the night and fourth scoreless frame.
Willie Harris' second hit of the night, (the Nationals' third of the game) is a one-out single off Smoltz's in the fifth. Will Nieves singles to right. Smoltz throws away a sac bunt from Lannan trying for the force at second, and Felipe Lopez is up with the bases loaded, one out. Lopez grounds to first, Mark Teixeira throws home for the force. Two down. Cristian Guzman goes down swinging for Smoltz's 7th K. With two outs in the bottom of the fifth, Yunel Escobar reaches on an infield grounder when Nick Johnson can't handle a throw from Ryan Zimmerman. Francouer grounds to short, Guzman takes the force. 1-0 DC after five.
Ryan Zimmerman can't even get close to Smoltz, as he strikes out swinging for the 8th K of the night. Nick Johnson grounds back to the mound, where John Smoltz makes a glove save, (and a beauty!). Austin Kearns grounds out to short. Lannan issues a one-out walk to Jeff Francouer, one on, one out for Brian McCann. McCann flies out to left. Matt Diaz lines...right into Nick Johnson's glove. 1-0 Nationals after six.
Lastings Milledge pops out foul of first. Smoltz finally gets Willie Harris out with a 3-2 slider on the outside edge of the strike zone for a swinging strike three. Wil Nieves hits a two-out single under a diving Kelly Johnson. John Lannan goes down swinging for Smoltz's 10th K. Lannan walks Martin Prado with one down in the Braves' seventh. Kelly Johnson pops out to short. Yunel Escobar rips a grounder...right into Nick Johnson's glove. Lannan through seven. 1-0 DC.
Righty reliever Blaine Boyer takes over for Smoltz in the eigth. Felipe Lopez lines a leadoff single to center. Cristian Guzman pops out to the infield. Ryan Zimmerman flies out to short. Boyer out. Royce Ring on to face Nick Johnson. Lefty vs Lefty. Ring gets up 1-2, and gets called for a BALK!! Lopez to second. Johnson stares at a 2-2 fastball for strike three. Bottom of the eigth. "Half-A" Ray King takes over for Lannan. C.Jones flies out to left. Mark Teixeira grounds out to short. King out. Luis "Set-Up" Ayala comes on. Jeff Francouer grounds out to first.
Right-handed reliever Jorge Campillo breaks strike three onto the inside corner to get Austin Kearns staring for the first out of the ninth. Lastings Milledge hits a laser liner to right for a one-out double. Willie Harris walks. Wil Nieves grounds back to Campillo, who throws to second to start the Doubl...but fires it into center instead, Milledge scores. 2-0 Nationals. Rob Mackowiak walks. Bases loaded. Felipe Lopez lines a one-hop single to right. 3-0 Nationals. Cristian Guzman grounds out to short, but Mackowiak crosses. 4-0 Nationals. Ryan Zimmer...THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!! THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!!! Ryan Zimmmerman doubles in two more runs. 6-0 Nationals...Wait for it...
The Tallest Closer in MLB History, Jon Rauch casts a long shadow over the mound...McCann flies out to left. 1. Diaz down starting. 2. Kotsay down trying, 1,2,3 The Nationals win. 6-0 shutout of Atlanta.
Nationals now 6-15.
Congratulations, Mr. Smoltz.