Heading into this weekend’s three-game set with their divisional rivals, the Washington Nationals were 6-0 against Atlanta in 2016 and 14-0 against the Braves in games played in the nation’s capital going back to late 2014.
A sweep of all ten games with Atlanta in Nationals Park last summer and a 4-0 record against the Braves in D.C. early in 2016, gave the Nationals their longest home winning streak over one opponent in franchise history (2005-present).
They’d also won seven straight overall against the Braves before tonight.
Dusty Baker, in an MLB Network Radio interview on Thursday, told Casey Stern and Cliff Floyd, that the team the Nationals are playing this weekend is different than the one they last saw early this season.
“They’ve got a whole new team,” Baker said. “They’ve got a totally different team than when we faced them in April.
“We haven’t faced them since April, so, it’s always a challenge when they are a bunch of guys that you don’t know.”
Atlanta started the series with wins in six of their last nine and 10 of their last 16 and the Braves ended their losing streak in the nation’s capital with an 8-5 win tonight, knocking Stephen Strasburg out early and adding on as the game went along...
Here’s how it happened:
Freddie Freeman improved 13 for 32 (.406 AVG) career vs Nationals’ starter Stephen Strasburg in their respective careers with an RBI double to center field with one down in the top of the first, putting the Braves up, 1-0, early.
It was 2-0 Braves in the second after Jace Peterson hit a 95 mph 2-0 fastball to right-center for a solo home run that cleared the out-of-town scoreboard. Peterson’s sixth.
Trea Turner singled to center in the third for the first hit off Braves’ righty Mike Foltynewicz, driving Ben Revere in to cut Atlanta’s lead in half, 2-1.
Anthony Rendon put the Nationals up with his 14th home run of the season, taking a 1-1 curve from Foltynewicz for a ride to left to make it 3-2.
Freeman was 2 for 3 tonight and 14 for 34 (.412 AVG) career vs Strasburg when he hit his 22nd home run of the season (and 4th career vs Strasburg) to left field on a 2-2 change outside that he pushed out for a three-run, opposite field home run that made it 5-3 Braves in the fifth.
Stephen Strasburg’s Line: 5.1 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 7 Ks, 2 HRs, 103 P, 72 S, 3/2 GO/FO.
Matt Belisle took over with one on and one out in the top of the sixth, and gave up a two-run home run to left field on the first pitch he threw to Braves’ backstop Anthony Recker, whose first home run of 2016 made it 7-3 Atlanta.
Brian Goodwin drove in a run with a two-out infield single, scoring Daniel Murphy from third two outs after Murphy doubled to start the sixth. 7-4 Braves.
Mike Foltynewicz’s Line: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 Ks, 1 HR, 99 P, 64 S, 9/3 GO/FO.
Oliver Perez put two on with a hit-by-pitch and a walk as the Braves added a run on a sac fly to center by Jace Peterson in the seventh, 8-4.
Jayson Werth doubled in a run and extended his on-base streak to 41-straight games with an RBI double in the bottom of the seventh that drove Trea Turner in after he’d singled and stolen his second base of the game (and 10th of the season). 8-5 ATL.
That’s as close as they got. Braves 8-5 in D.C. for the first time since 2014.
Nationals now 67-47
- Washington’s 67-46 record heading into their three-game set with Atlanta was the second-best in the majors, behind only the Chicago Cubs’ (72-41).
- Atlanta started the three-game set in D.C. with a seven-game losing streak against Washington which went back to October 1, 2015.
- The Nationals’ +136 run differential was the second-best in the majors as well, behind only, again, the Cubs (+189).
- In dropping the last 14 games in Nationals Park, the Braves have been outscored 87-30.
- Atlanta had, however, won 10 of 16 and 6 of their last 9 heading into tonight’s game.
- Nationals’ hitters started the night ranked 2nd in the NL in HRs (149), fourth in runs scored (530) and 5th in walks (392).
- Jayson Werth extended his on-base streak to 40-straight games on Wednesday with a double in the first. He waited until the seventh tonight, driving in a run with a double to right that gave him a 41-game on-base streak.
- Over the course of his streak, he’d collected 36 hits and 30 walks, while posting a .386 OBP. Make that 37 hits after his double in the seventh.
- Braves’ first baseman Freddie Freeman reached base in all four of his plate appearances on Wednesday, and connected for two home runs, reaching the 20-HR plateau for the fourth time.
- Daniel Murphy started the night leading the NL in AVG (.346), SLG (.607), OPS (.992), hits (tied, 140), multi-hit games (44) and go-ahead RBIs (26).
- In today’s Nationals-themed “Fun with Arbitrary End Points” segment: Washington’s 3B, Anthony Rendon, was 25 for 74 (.338) with nine doubles, four HRs, eight walks and 11 runs scored... since July 16th
- Wilson Ramos started the night with a seven-game hit streak and hits in 21 of his last 25 games.
- Braves’ outfielder Nick Markakis had a six-game hit streak going into tonight’s series opener, over which he was 11 for 26 (.423 AVG) with six doubles and two home runs over that stretch.
- Braves’ outfielders started the series in D.C. leading the majors with 29 outfield assists as a team.
Nationals now 67-47