Man in the Stands

Archive for the tag “Washington Nationals”

Braves overcome Natitude to extend streak

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The Braves (69-45) and the Nationals (54-59) had a pitchers’ duel on Tuesday night in a 2-1 Atlanta victory that saw benches clear and both teams warned by umpire Joe West in the fifth inning.

National’s outfielder Bryce Harper was struck by a pitch in the backside from Braves starter Julio Teheran (9-5) in the fifth inning after hitting a solo home run in his previous at-bat two innings earlier.

Harper took a step toward the mound with words for Teheran before making his way to first base. Braves catcher Brian McCann quickly came from behind the plate to get between the heated Harper and his pitcher.

West, the home plate umpire, took quick action in getting McCann steered away from Harper. Both benches and bullpens cleared, including Braves right-fielder Jason Heyward who came out of the game after his first at-bat with a strained neck.

After order was restored and both benches warned, play resumed to see an otherwise disappointing game.

Evan Gattis, who entered the game for Heyward, had a two-out single in the top of the fifth that scored, both, B.J. Upton and Andrelton Simmons. These, along with Harper’s homer, proved to be the only runs in the game.

Teheran only allowed four hits to Washington to match his four strikeouts in six innings of work. Craig Kimbrel came in for the save opportunity and gave Braves fans a bit of poetic justice by striking out Harper on a 99 MPH fastball to end the game.

Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez (7-5) took the loss Tuesday despite a solid outing. Seven innings with five strikeouts and only six hits given up is a good day on the mound for any pitcher. He just lacked the run support from his offense and the two earned runs by Gattis were his only black eye.

The win pushed the Braves to 12-straight victories. The streak is the longest by a Braves team since a 15-game win streak that ended on May 2, 2000.

The Braves also added another come-from-behind win to total up to 37 on the season, which is a Major League leading stat.

Atlanta now leads the NL East by 14.5 games over the Nationals, the largest division lead in MLB.

Batting Title Update:

Since ending his multi-hit game streak at eight-straight on August 3, where he went 0-for-3 with two walks, Chris Johnson has been on a little bit of a slump.

The next night after the streak ended, Johnson seemed to be on his horse again with a 2-for-4, two-RBI game. He has been 0-for-4 with a strikeout in each of the two games this series with Washington, dropping his average back to .338 after being as high as .347.

Johnson still leads the National League with the injured Yadier Molina holding on to second from the disabled list.

Chris Johnson and the Braves will play for win #13 behind Kris Medlen (8-10) in the final game of the series with Washington and starting pitcher Jordan Zimmerman (13-6) on Wednesday. First pitch from Nationals Park in Washington will be at 7:05 ET.

Upton home run extends Braves streak to 11

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Justin Upton’s game-winning home run helped the Braves (68-45) overcome a strong game from Nationals (54-58) pitcher Stephen Strasburg to win their 11th straight contest on Tuesday night.

Strasburg (5-9) threw seven innings, giving up two earned runs on only five hits. He faced 28 batters, striking out nine of them.

Upton’s home run (20) off of Tyler Clippard (6-2) in the eighth inning proved to be the game winner. Clippard gave up another hit but only the one run in his single inning of work.

Upton was 3-for-4 on the night and scored another run off of a Freddie Freeman two-out single in the fifth.

Freeman also drove in the other run scored for the Braves on a single in the third inning. Jason Heyward scored on that play. Freeman was 3-for-4 on the night with the two RBIs.

Upton, Freeman, Heyward, and B.J. Upton were the only Braves to secure a hit in the contest.

Brian McCann, Dan Uggla, Andrelton Simmons, and Chris Johnson, one game removed from a Braves record hitting streak, were all 0-fer in the game. Both McCann and B.J. had two strikeouts.

The story in the game will undoubtedly be pulled toward the Justin Upton go-ahead home run in the eighth. Some would argue that it should be the timely hitting by Freddie Freeman to drive in the two runs earlier in the game. For me, the story of the game is easily the pitching. More importantly, the Braves bullpen.

You can score as many runs as you want to, but, if your bullpen gives up more than you’re scoring, it won’t matter for much.

Mike Minor (11-5) started things off for the Braves on Monday, but picked up a no-decision. In his six innings of work, Minor gave up eight hits and two earned runs. He also issued three walks and had three strikeouts.

David Carpenter (3-0) picked up the win for Atlanta on 1-2/3 masterful innings. He was perfect in his time on the mound, with two strikeouts along the way.

Luis Avilan was on the bump for the final out of the eighth inning. Avilan walked up to the mound and tossed one (1) pitch for the out.

Usually, in a one-run game, Craig Kimbrel would enter the game to finish off the game and toss the last inning. After working all three nights in Philadelphia, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez decided to give him a rest and give the ball to Jordan Walden for the save opportunity.

Walden picked up the save, his only of the season, on nine pitches. He gave up only one hit in the ninth to cap off the game.

Walden and Cory Gearrin are the only two pitchers outside of Kimbrel to have a save on their resume from the Braves 2013 season.

The game was the Braves 36th comeback win of the year, most in the Majors by any team.

We’re going streaking:

With the end of the Phillies series, the Braves were at 10-straight wins, which tied a streak from earlier this season. With the win on Monday night, 11-straight makes the longest win streak for Atlanta since winning 15-straight from April 16-May 2 in the 2000 season.

Through the 11 games, the Braves have outscored their opponents 69-27. Atlanta is hitting a solid .294 as a team throughout the streak, holding their opponents to a .211 average. The team has hit 13 home runs during the run as well.

Opposing pitchers have walked the Braves 40 times compared to the Braves pitching staff giving out only 21 walks. Atlanta’s staff has also struckout the opponents batters 97 times out of 360 at-bats.

Extending the streak:

Tuesday night is game two of a three-game series between the two squads. The pitching match-up, Julio Teheran VS Gio Gonzalez, will be fun to watch.

Teheran (8-5), the Braves 22-year-old right-hander, has a 3.02 ERA and 1.18 WHIP with 117 strikeouts this season.

Coming into Tuesday’s game, Teheran has pitched 18 innings and amassed a 4.50 ERA against the Nationals in three games in 2013.

Pitching against Washington this year, Teheran is 0-1. In his three starts, he’s given up 23 hits, nine earned runs, and the Nats are hitting a nice .329 off of him.

Teheran has tossed only six innings at Nationals Park this season. In that time he has picked up a 6.00 ERA and given up a four earned runs with a home run in only six hits.

As for Gonzalez (7-4), he has faced the Braves three times this season as well with an 0-2 record.

In his 16 innings against Atlanta, the Braves are hitting .270 off of him with 13 earned runs, including three home runs. Gonzalez has a 7.31 ERA against a team who have been hot as of late.

When pitching at home, Gonzalez has a 3.07 ERA with a 4-2 record in 11 games. In those games, he’s thrown over 67 innings and given up 23 earned runs and issued 26 walks. He’s also held opponents to a .232 average.

The Braves will chase their 12th-straight victory against the Nationals in Washington on Tuesday night against Gonzalez. First pitch from Nationals Park will be at 7:05 ET.

Braves: The Final 53

With the calendar flipping to August and the Colorado series coming to an end with an awesome offensive showing, the Braves are just 10 games away from being in the final quarter of the regular season.

We’ve seen first year Braves kill it, old Braves come back, a nickname become a legend, brothers collide, brothers tie and walk-off, fans unite to #VoteFreddie, a veteran pitcher go down for the count, and a part-time player become an everyday player and take aim at a batting title.

The first 109 games have been, believe it or not, fun. The final 53 games are looking to be just as good.

Now with the last two months coming to a head, fans wonder: “What team will we see down the stretch?”

That is a legitimate question to ask as a Braves fan. Myself, I grew up with the Braves being champions. I was born in ‘91 and so was the 14 consecutive division champion streak. When I was old enough to actually follow the team, the players, their stats, like, say, at the age 15 in 2006, it was the start of something almost upsetting.

It wasn’t until 2010 that Atlanta reached the postseason again, only to get beat by San Francisco in four games.

In the final 53 games of the 2010 season, Atlanta went 29-24. The team was strong. Offensively, the Braves outscored their opponents 243-214. It wasn’t good enough to take the division, but it was good enough to win the Wild Card by one game over San Diego.

Then 2011 rolls around. The Braves are seven games behind Philadelphia in the NL East but up three games for the Wild Card over Arizona, seven games over St. Louis. Going into the last three games of the season, the WC race is down to Atlanta and the Cardinals.

With a one-game lead, the Braves headed into a three-game home series with the NL East leading Phillies and the Cardinals headed to Houston to face the Astros. Atlanta needed just two home wins to clinch the Wild Card and go to the postseason.

St. Louis took 2-of-3 from the Astros and the Braves were swept by the Phillies to lose the Wild Card spot by one game. The Cardinals went on to beat the Rangers in the World Series.

Last season, seemed like destiny. Chipper Jones’ 19-year career as a Brave was coming to an end and the Braves were making a push for the postseason once again.

With 53 games left, Atlanta was one-game ahead of the 2nd Wild Card team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and three games ahead of the Cardinals.

Down the stretch the Braves went into battle mode and came out with 31 wins and 22 losses. They had a run differential of +33 over their opponents in that time.

The MLB had a newly developed schedule that allowed for a second Wild Card team, which the Cardinals clinched over Pittsburgh. Because Atlanta had the better record, the two teams met at Turner Field.

The game now has been more infamous for a call rather than the result. The infield fly rule was questionably applied in the eighth inning, Braves fans showered the field with trash, and the rest of the game was played under protest by the home team.

The protest was later denied by the MLB front office and the Cardinals won the game 6-3 to advance to the NLDS. St. Louis beat the Nationals before losing to the, would be, World Series Champion Giants in the NLCS.

Here we are again, looking at what is forthcoming in the final 53 games of the 2013 season, and the picture is much different from the previous three years.

Atlanta is 12 games ahead of the Washington Nationals and is the only team above the .500 mark in the National League East.

Here are the final match-ups of the regular season and the results from the previous three seasons when playing the same teams in the last 53 games of the season:

  • Philadelphia (50-58): Braves have 13 games left in 2013 against the Phillies. The Phils have beaten up on Atlanta the last three seasons inside of the 53 game mark, winning 15-of-20 games and outscoring the Braves 105-66. This season the series is split with each team winning three games.
  • Washington (52-56): Nine games are left against the Nationals on the regular season docket. The two have split the 24 games played in the final stretch of the season from 2010-2012. The Braves are 7-3 in 2013 against D.C.’s team.
  • New York (48-58): The Mets and the Braves have played 25 games within the final 53 games in the last three seasons. Atlanta owns that series 18-7 with a +28 run differential. The clubs are even through the 14-game series this year.
  • St. Louis (63-44): Only seven games have been played between these two this late in any season since 2010. The Cardinals have taken five of those games. In 2013, St. Louis is on the schedule twice and the only series played so far belongs to Atlanta in a three-game sweep.
  • Miami (42-65): Atlanta is 6-3 against the Marlins this season and has control of the previous three season’s series’ as well with 17-of-24 wins.
  • Chicago (49-59): Only nine match-ups in the latter part of the season after 2010 have been played between the two. The Braves are one game up in that time and three games to none so far this year.
  • Cleveland (60-48): The last time the Braves played the Indians was in the 2007 season when Atlanta took two games of the three in Cleveland. The two teams have not yet met this season.
  • San Diego (50-59): Last year, the two teams met for seven games in the final 53 games of the Braves regular season. Atlanta won four of the games.
  • Milwaukee (46-62): Last season was also the only season of the past three that Atlanta met Milwaukee in the last stretch of the year. The Brewers outscored the Braves 17-3 and swept the series.

The Braves have an excellent chance of winning 35-to-40 of the last 53 games that they will play in the 2013 regular season.

They have 28 home games left and hold the best home record (38-15) in Major League Baseball. Six of those are against the Miami Marlins, which is 21 games back in the NL East, and seven are against Philadelphia. The Nationals, Indians, Mets, Padres and Brewers each have three games to play at Turner Field.

The shortest home-stand for the Braves will be the three game series with the Padres. No other time at the Ted is shorter than seven games, the length of their longest away trip.

Atlanta has to visit Philly and Washington for six games at each stop. The Braves will be in, both, St. Louis and Miami for four-game series’. Wrigley Field and Citi Field are also stops along the way.

Nothing about the left-over home schedule screams difficulty. The Indians are the only team that is coming into Atlanta with a record of .500 or better at this point. Maybe the hardest thing will be concentrating and staying focused with, what is currently, a double-digit lead in the division.

The toughest away stint will easily be the seven games between the four-game series with the Cardinals and the three-games against the Phillies. The Cardinals are the only team left to play on the road with a .500 or better record right now.

The Phillies match-up, looking at it right now, isn’t a tough one, but after battling with the Cardinals, it will be. Honestly, it might be the most important series to watch. It could tell us what kind of team we’re looking at for the postseason. Is it one who will fight series after series or one wear down after a tough series?

That’s the question that every team is asking, or will be soon, going into the last bit of the schedule. Only time will tell, and it starts with the final 53.

Unbelievable year comes to a close

The 2012 Major League Baseball regular season has come to an end and 10 teams, and their fans, look forward to the postseason.

This season saw the first MLB Triple Crown winner in 45 years, an Orioles team come from worst to battling for first in game 162, the Nationals win the division for the first time, and Oakland sweep the Rangers to take the AL West in the last series of the season.

Miguel Cabrera is the king of baseball! The Triple Crown winner drove in more runs (139), went yard  more times (44), and hit for a better average (.330) than anyone in the American League on the way to the AL Central title.

1967 was the last season the award was won and Carl Yastrzemski was the last man to do it. The Red Sox outfielder finished that season with 121 RBIs, 44 home runs, and a .326 batting average.

Baltimore (93-69) skipper Buck Showalter turned the O’s around in just his second year with the club. Last season, the team finished in last place in the AL East with a 69-93 record and 28 games out of first.

Showalter’s squad fought to the last game as they faced the Rays in Tampa. They were in a race with the New York Yankees for the division title but a 4-1 loss and a 14-2 Yankee win made the finish line disappear. The team will be one of the AL’s Wild Card teams for the 2012 postseason, the Orioles’ first postseason since they clinched the division 15 years ago. Baltimore will face the Rangers at 8:30 on Friday, Oct. 6 on TBS.

The Washington Nationals put on a show this season and finished with a 98-64 record, its best since posting an 81-81 (.500) record in 2005. That season was the team’s first season in D.C. Before this season, the city’s last first place baseball team goes all the way back to 1933 with the Washington Senators.

The Oakland Athletics went into the last series of the year down two games to their on-field opponents, the Texas Rangers. With a 4-3 win in game one and a 3-1 victory in game two, the A’s looked to be pulling off the improbable division takeover. A third matchup would prove the improbable to be reality. The Athletics not only beat the Rangers in that game, they thrashed them by 7 runs to become AL West Champions.

The American League was home to most of this drama, leaving the National League to fall into the place it seemed that it would for the past month or so. The Braves gave chase to Washington for first place, sitting three games out with three to play, but lost their steam with a loss to the Pirates in game one of the last series of the year for the two teams.

The Dodgers tried to catch the Cardinals for the second NL Wild Card spot but were unsuccessful.

AL East Champion New York awaits the winner of the Orioles vs. Rangers Wild Card matchup to start its postseason run on Sunday, Oct. 7.

The AL West Champion will face the AL Central Champion on Saturday night at 6:00 p.m.

The Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals will face off in a Wild Card game on Friday, Oct. 5 at 5:00 p.m.

The winner of the Wild Card game will face the Nationals on Oct. 7 in the National League Division Series.

The Cincinnati Reds, NL Central champions, will meet the NL West champion San Francisco Giants Oct. 9 at 9:30 p.m.

All games will be held on TBS.

Welcome to the 2012 MLB Postseason, everyone!

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