It was a walkfest. Atlanta Braves’ pitchers combined to walk 14, count’em, 14 batters as the Washington Nationals walked away with the second game of three in SunTrust Park, 7-1, in spite of the fact that they lost Jeremy Hellickson in the fourth, when he re-injured his right wrist on a swinging strike. And no, this isn’t another argument for the DH in the NL.
Hellickson vs Atlanta: Jeremy Hellickson’s one start against the Braves before today ended after just one out, when he injured his hamstring covering first base in SunTrust Park.
That injury landed Hellickson on the Disabled List for the first of his two stints on the DL this year.
The second injury occurred when the veteran right-hander fell on his right wrist while trying to cover home during Washington’s visit to St. Louis last month.
Hellickson returned from the DL earlier this week, and Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez decided to go with the veteran starter over rookie righty Jefry Rodriguez in this afternoon’s matchup against the Braves in Atlanta, GA.
Hellickson took the mound with a 1-0 lead, courtesy of an RBI single by Juan Soto, but gave up an infield single by Ronald Acuña, Jr., who took third base on an errant throw to first one out later, when Freddie Freeman lined out to center for a game-tying sac fly, 1-1.
Hellickson held the Braves there through three, on 60 pitches, but he re-injured his wrist at the plate on a swinging strike in the top of the fourth and left the game...
Jeremy Hellickson’s Line: 3.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 60 P, 38 S, 3/0 GO/FO.
Teheran vs Washington: In nine second-half starts before this afternoon’s outing, Braves’ right-hander Julio Teheran was just (2-1) with a 3.86 ERA and a .189/.287/.308 line against over 53 2⁄3 IP in which he walked 22 and struck out 47.
Today’s turn in the rotation was his third against the Nationals after he faced Washington in back-to-back starts early this season, giving up six hits, three walks, and five earned runs in 2 1⁄3 IP at home on April 3rd, and five hits, four walks, and two earned runs over six innings of work on the mound in Nationals Park on April 9th.
Teheran gave a run in the first this afternoon with Bryce Harper walking, moving up on an Anthony Rendon single and scoring on an RBI single by Juan Soto to make it 1-0 after a 1/2-inning in SunTrust Park.
Juan Soto is just the 3rd teenager since 1920 to reach base safely in 20 straight games. pic.twitter.com/F4qsNmaVyk— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) September 15, 2018
Soto and Wilmer Difo walked to put two on with one out in the top of the fourth, with Soto stealing second base before Difo’s free pass. Spencer Kieboom walked as well to load the bases in front of Jeremy Hellickson, who injured his wrist swinging through an 0-2 slider... Andrew Stevenson replaced Hellickson mid-at-bat and K’d swinging, but Adam Eaton took the sixth walk of the game from Teheran to force in a run, 2-1.
Julio Teheran’s Line: 4.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 6 BB, 7 Ks, 90 P, 52 S, 3/0 GO/FO.
Harper vs Teheran is still a thing: Going into today’s game, Bryce Harper was 18 for 40 (.450/.560/1.125) with three doubles, eight home runs, nine walks, and five Ks in 50 PAs against Braves’ righty Julio Teheran in their respective careers.
Harper walked in his first plate appearance, with Teheran pitching around the Nats’ 25-year-old outfielder after Trea Turner, who singled, was thrown out trying to steal second base, and Harper scored from second when Juan Soto lined a two-out hit to the right-center gap, 1-0.
Harper walked with the bases empty and two down in his second trip to the plate against Teheran as well. That was it for their head-to-head matchup for the day.
Soto: A Baseball Story: Juan Soto started the day with an eight-game hit streak going, over which he was 12 for 35 (.343 AVG) with two doubles, four homers, eight RBIs, three walks, and seven runs scored, and he extended it with a two-out RBI single in his first at bat, lining a 1-2 slider from Julio Teheran into the right-center gap to put the Nationals up 1-0 early.
That also gave Soto a 20-game on-base streak, making him, “just the 3rd teenager since 1920 to reach base safely in 20 straight games.”
Soto stole a base after singling the first time up in the first, then stole a second base after a leadoff walk in the fourth before scoring on a bases-loaded walk by Adam Eaton. He walked again in the seventh, and stole his third base of the game, to set yet another teenager in the majors record (via @NationalsPR):
“Juan Soto is the youngest player since 1900 to steal three bases in a game, surpassing Rickey Henderson who stole 3 bases at 20 years 241 days on Aug. 23, 1979.”
BULLPEN ACTION: Jefry Rodriguez came on for the injured Jeremy Hellickson in the bottom of the fourth and retired the Braves in order in a 10-pitch frame.
Sam Freeman took over for Julio Teheran in the top of the fifth and retired the first two batters he faced before a two-out walk to Juan Soto ended his outing.
Chad Sobotka took over with a runner on first and two out against Mark Reynolds and got a fly to center to end the Nationals’ half of the fifth.
Rodriguez worked around a two-out walk for a scoreless fifth in his second inning of work.
Spencer Kieboom took the eighth walk of the game from Braves’ pitchers (Touki Toussaint in this case) and scored on an Adam Eaton double after Jefry Rodriguez bunted him over to second, 3-1. Two more walks loaded the bases in front of Anthony Rendon, who lined a two-run double to left and over the fence on a hop, 5-1.
40th of the season. pic.twitter.com/98vnLYGP4l— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) September 15, 2018
A third scoreless inning for Rodriguez left him at 45 pitches overall.
Wilmer Difo took the 12th walk of the game from Braves’ pitchers (Luke Jackson in this case), stole second base, took third on a groundout, and then scored on an RBI single to center by Jefry Rodriguez to make it 6-1.
Rodriguez came back for another inning of work in the Braves’ seventh, and retired the side in order in a 15-pitch frame, 60 pitches total.
Juan Soto reached on a force at second (after Anthony Rendon took the Nationals’ 13th walk of the day) and Soto scored on a Mark Reynolds’ double to make it a 7-1 game.
Rodriguez issued two walks in the Braves’ eighth before Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez went to the pen for Matt Grace vs Freddie Freeman, and Grace got a line drive out to right, still 7-1.
Grace came back out in the ninth (after Adam Eaton took the Nationals’ 14th walk of the day in the top of the frame) and retired the Braves in order to end it.
Final Score: 7-1 Nationals
Nationals now 75-74