Sean Nolin threw just eight pitches tonight, the last two purposes pitches, one behind Freddie Freeman’s back, and the next into his hip, retaliating for last night’s late-game beanball from Will Smith to Juan Soto, so it was a long night for Washington’s bullpen.
As for the offense? Josh Bell brought in a run with a groundout in the top of the first, but after that the Nats and Atlanta Braves traded solo home runs, with Bell homering in the fourth, 2-0, before Adam Duvall hit one out to left off Andres Machado in the bottom of the fourth, 2-1, then Eddie Rosario hit one out off Austin Voth in the sixth, 2-2, and Juan Soto’s 25th of 2021 made it 3-2 game in the Nationals’ favor in what ended up a 4-2 win for the visiting team in Truist Park.
Nolin vs the Braves: Sean Nolin’s outing tonight didn’t last long. Braves’ closer Will Smith hit Juan Soto last night, on what seemed like a purpose pitch, and apparently the Nationals saw things that way, because Nolin came out tonight, got a groundout and gave up a single, and then threw one behind Freddie Freeman, higher than you’d like, then followed up on that, to make his intentions clear, by hitting Freeman on the hip. The umpires gathered and decided to toss him for the intentional HBP. Patrick Murphy came in and completed a scoreless first.
Sean Nolin tries to hit Freddie Freeman, misses, hits him on the second try, and gets thrown out of the game. pic.twitter.com/90zMXzFubw— Major League GIFs (@MajorLeagueGIFs) September 8, 2021
Toussaint vs the Nationals: Last time out on the mound, 25-year-old Braves’ starter Touki Toussaint went just three innings against the Colorado Rockies, giving up six hits and five runs, four earned, in what ended up a 6-4 win in which he received no decision.
That start left the righty with a 4.19 ERA, 15 walks, 40 Ks, and a .236/.318/.427 line against in nine games (eight starts) and 43 IP on the season.
Toussaint had an unearned run cross the plate in the first inning tonight, with Lane Thomas reaching on an error, moving to second on a hit-by-pitch on Alcides Escobar, and third on a Juan Soto groundout, before scoring on a low, one-hop liner to first by Josh Bell, 1-0 Nats.
Josh Bell got all of a first-pitch curve from Toussaint in the top of the fourth, and he hit a 431 foot home run to right field in Truist Park for his 25th of 2021 and a 2-0 Nationals’ lead. Back-to-back walks to Yadiel Hernández and Carter Kieboom in the next two at-bats ended things for the Braves’ starter...
Touki Toussaint’s Line: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 3 Ks, 1 HR, 62 P, 29 S, 4/1 GO/FO.
Alcides EscOBPar: Alcides Escobar started the night with a five-game hit streak, over which he was 7 for 20 (.350 AVG) with two doubles, one triple, one home run, five RBIs, two walks, and nine runs scored.
“He’s been an unbelievable veteran for our club. And he’s having a great year,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez told reporters before tonight’s game.
“Offensively, I know he doesn’t walk a whole lot, but he puts the ball in play, and he’s a very smart player.”
Escobar went 0 for 3 through seven, putting the hit streak in jeopardy, and he K’d in the top of the ninth, ending the streak.
Bullpen Action: Patrick Murphy took over for the Nationals with two on and one out after Nolin was tossed, and stranded both runners he inherited, then he came back out for the bottom of the second and worked around a leadoff walk to keep it a 1-0 game in the Nats’ favor.
Freddie Freeman hugs Juan Soto and talks to Dave Martinez after being intentionally HBP. pic.twitter.com/kDg2bCaZ7l— Major League GIFs (@MajorLeagueGIFs) September 9, 2021
Murphy issued a one-out walk to Jorge Soler in the bottom of the third, but stranded the only runner to reach base against him.
Jacob Webb came on for the Braves with two on and no one out in the top of the fourth, and the right-hander retired two batters before walking Alex Avila to load the bases.
Lane Thomas stepped in next and popped out to short right, where Freddie Freeman made a nice over-the-shoulder catch.
Andres Machado gave up a solo shot to left by Adam Duvall in the first at bat of the Braves’ fourth, on a 3-2 fastball out over the plate that Duvall hit out for his 33rd home run in 2021 and Atlanta’s first run tonight, 2-1 D.C.
A.J. Minter worked around a two-out error by Dansby Swanson for a scoreless top of the fifth.
Mason Thompson worked around a leadoff single in an 11-pitch, 9-strike bottom of the fifth.
Minter worked around a one-out walk to Keibert Ruiz in a scoreless top of the sixth to keep it a 2-1 game in the Nationals’ favor.
Austin Voth retired the first two batters he faced in the Braves’ half of the sixth, one on a swinging K, and one looking, but Eddie Rosario went way down for a 3-2 curve in, and hit one out to right for a game-tying solo shot. No. 9 of 2021. Nats and Braves tied at 2-2.
Braves’ righty Richard Rodríguez retired the first two batters he faced in the top of the seventh, but he made a mistake on an 0-1 fastball to Juan Soto (the mistake was really pitching to him) and gave up a
462 432-foot blast to right that put the Nats back up, 3-2.
Soto’s 25th of 2021.
Did Juan Soto blow a kiss to Will Smith in the Braves' bullpen? pic.twitter.com/01ttPiKJGv— Blake Finney (@FinneyBlake) September 9, 2021
Voth came back out for the bottom of the seventh and got two outs around a one-out walk, then the Nationals went to the ‘pen again for Wander Suero vs Adam Duvall, and Suero got him swinging on three pitches, throwing three straight cutters, the first two fouled off, then the third one missed.
Yadiel Hernández and Carter Kieboom hit back-to-back singles to start the top of the eighth inning, and one out later, Luis García hit a hanging, 0-1 curve from lefty Drew Smyly to right for an RBI single, 4-2 Nationals.
Edgar Santana kept it a two-run game with a scoreless top of the ninth.
Kyle Finnegan came on for the save opportunity and retired the first two batters before he gave up a two-out single by Jorge Soler that got Freddie Freeman up. Freeman fell behind 0-2 quickly and lined out to left to end it.
Final Score: 4-2 Nationals
Nationals now 58-81