The Washington Nationals dropped two of three to the Atlanta Braves in the nation's capital, where the defending NL East Champions improved to 9-3 over the last two seasons with their series win last week. In 2013, the Nats were 4-6 Turner Field, where they start a three-game series tonight. Though Matt Williams wasn't on the bench last season when the Braves went 13-6 against the Nationals, he was asked after the second straight loss in the nation's capital if there was a feeling that the Nats can't beat the Braves.
"I don't know," Williams said. "I don't think it matters [if it's] the Braves or any other team. If they're not doing well, then they want to do well. So, I don't think we can read too much into that other than over the last couple days, there's been some swings at balls out of the strike zone. And that's being aggressive, but that's also frustrating at times, and the fact that we had opportunities too and it didn't happen. So all of that stuff kind of piles on itself and frustration comes out. But they're not going to panic about it, got a lot of games left."
"We lost a couple of games," the first-year skipper said, "but in the grand scheme of it, we still have to play the rest of them, so it's not a big deal in that respect."
If they want to send a message to their NL East rivals, they have to do it now.
After this weekend's series, the Nationals and Braves don't meet again until mid-June when they play a four-game set in Nationals Park.
• Here's the Nationals' lineup for the first game of three in Turner Field against the Braves, who will be without shortstop Andrelton Simmons:
#Nats lineup @ #Braves: Span CF, Rendon 2B, Werth RF, LaRoche 1B, Zimmerman 3B, Harper LF, Desmond SS, Lobaton C, Roark P— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) April 11, 2014
Simmons, 24, injured his wrist on a play at the plate during Atlanta's last series with the New York Mets.
Simmons said his right wrist feels good today. Took swings in cage to test it. Not in the lineup but says he could pinch hit— David O'Brien (@ajcbraves) April 11, 2014
• Here's the Braves' lineup that will face Nats' right-hander Tanner Roark:
Braves lineup. 1. Heyward RF 2. BUpton CF 3. Freeman 1B 4. Johnson 3B 5. JUpton LF 6. Uggla 2B 7. Gattis C 8. Pena SS 9. Teheran P— David O'Brien (@ajcbraves) April 11, 2014
• AUDIO: I went on 106.7 the FAN in D.C. this afternoon to talk Nationals with LaVar Arrington and Chad Dukes. Listen to the interview HERE.