This game was a lot less comfortable than it should have been… but if not for repeated idiocy by the Nats, it could have been really uncomfortable indeed.
In the top of the first, Hudson gave up two hits and a walk, but was saved when Francoeur threw a runner out at the plate to end the inning. The Braves took the lead in the bottom of the inning, despite — and I say this with no exaggeration — the worst “out” call at first base that I have ever seen. Prado (can’t catch, can’t throw, can hit a little) doubled to the gap again. Escobar laid down a perfect bunt for a hit, but was called out despite being about three feet past the base when the throw got there. Chipper hit a sac fly to score Prado, but the Braves could have gotten more.
McCann led off the second with a homer, and Diaz and Blanco (playing center tonight) singled. Hudson bunted to sacrifice Blanco to second, but Diaz followed the third baseman in and scored on the throw. Prado doubled again and scored Blanco to make it 3-0.
I don’t normally get into other teams’ managing, but I can’t ignore the third inning tonight where Manny Acta basically hung his starter out to dry. Matt Chico was wild all night — I was thinking, as Joe said this simultaneously on the broadcast, that he might be pitching hurt — and Acta didn’t even have anyone up in the pen. Chico was incredibly fortunate to get through the third allowing only three runs, largely because of a great play by Ryan Zimmermann at third base. Chico allowed eight hits and three walks, his ERA went up by about two runs, and I would not be surprised to see him go on the DL within the next six weeks. The Nats will be fortunate if he doesn’t need surgery. You just cannot leave a young pitcher out there when he’s not throwing right.
Oh, and it cost them a chance to stay in the game. The Braves added a run against the pen in the sixth, Francoeur singling in Escobar. Hudson was working on the world’s worst shutout. The Nats had another runner thrown out at the plate to end the fifth, on one of Prado’s non-error mistakes that turned into a great throw by Escobar to get a runner trying to score from second. Hudson had only one 1-2-3 inning, and really didn’t look as sharp as he did the first time he faced the Nats. In the seventh, it caught up to him, and he allowed two runs and was relieved by Ring. Carlyle allowed another run in the eighth, but the inning ended when Aaron Boone got himself thrown out at second trying to advance on a bad throw by Chipper. For the record, the Nats got thrown out three times, including once when trailing by six runs in the fifth and another when trailing by four in the eighth. This is stupid baseball, and it offends me. Acosta pitched the ninth, and allowed a couple of baserunners on a HBP and a single, but finished it up for the Atlanta Save.
Everybody got at least one hit except Hudson, who had two RBI. Diaz was 3-4 and is now pretty much officially a platoon player, at least until Blanco goes into a slump or Kotsay gets hurt. It remains to be seen if KJ is a platoon player or not. Chipper played the whole game.