Nats 7, Braves 3 (11 innings)

Washington Nationals vs. Atlanta Braves – Box Score – May 11, 2011 – ESPN.

People who are bad at their jobs, 5/11/11:

Fredi Gonzalez
Joe Mather
Scott Linebrink
The Braves’ medical staff
Craig Kimbrel

Kimbrel may recover, I don’t have a lot of faith in the others. The Braves led 3-1 until the ninth inning, when Kimbrel allowed three hits (along three strikeouts) and a walk to tie the game. Bad pitch selection, maybe.

Anyway, it spoiled a pretty good outing by Tommy Hanson. Hanson wasn’t very efficient, and left with two out in the sixth, but he allowed only one run on five hits, then Cory Gearrin got out of the sixth. Eric O’Flaherty and Jonny Venters, unsurprisingly, were fine in the seventh and eighth.

The Braves took the lead in the first with a two-run double by Brian McCann, but couldn’t get any more hits with runners on. Eric Hinske, starting in right, hit a solo homer in the seventh, but that was it… The Nats stole second base four times, but it was completely irrelevant, as none of the runners scored. Expect everyone to harp on it anyway.

Linestink, of course, is pathetic. Brought in with a runner on second and two out, for George Sherrill, in the tenth, he got out of that, then predictably stunk up the joint in the eleventh, hitting a guy then allowing a single, a two-run double, and a homer. He’s just terrible, and there’s no reason to put up with him except that the next option is probably Scott Proctor.

45 thoughts on “Nats 7, Braves 3 (11 innings)”

  1. Why do none of the stories under the “Braves News (AJC)” sidebar have to do with the Braves?

    “Good young felons to get break”

  2. Here’s the thing… If you use Venters as the closer, and Kimbrel in the eighth, if Kimbrel has an Episode you can bring in Venters early to save the day. If you use O’Flaherty in the seventh and Venters in the eighth, there’s nobody of any quality to save Kimbrel.

    I’d be tempted to make O’Flaherty the ninth-inning guy and mix-and-match Venters and Kimbrel, but I realize this is too radical for Fredi.

  3. The problem I see with using Kimbrel as anything but the closer is that you really can’t trust him to come in with men already on base. His control problems are somewhat manageable when he begins a clean inning, but if brought in with men on (or heavens, the bases loaded) you’re asking for trouble.

  4. I want Alec Baldwin to go to the bullpen and offer a steak knife prize. Leads are for closers!!

  5. If we were going to have a “closer”, it should have been Venters. The pressure is hard for young relievers, and Venters had already proven himself able to perform under pressure and a large load. Fredi was wowed by Kimbrel’s dominance, but his lack of consistency at this early stage in his career makes him a liability in the 9th inning.

  6. The thing is, as soon as it gets close, we lose. There have been like 100 times where we went to extras or had a one run game in the ninth, and like 95 times the opponent won. It’s simply who we are, losers of close games. Very depressing, but this goes on for 20 years now.

    Venters as closer might help though.

  7. I sure thought that game-tying single off Kimbrel was gonna be a DP. From my iPhone anyway, it looked like he really froze when that ball was hit back up the middle. Tough one.

    Got to see a cavalcade of ex-Braves tonight at Yankee Stadium, including the immortal Buddy Carlyle, who was tagged with the loss to KC.

    And, of course, there’s nothing like sitting through an extra-inning AL game that goes 4:31.

  8. A great Olen story to take your mind off of the pitiful excuse of baseball we’ve seen the past few days…

    (Remember, this is church softball…)
    Last night, as is the norm, Olen started off playing 3b and I started playing SS. As is also the norm, Olen made a plethora of errors in the initial inning leading to a 10-run inning (10-2 after the first). After the first inning, Olen looks at me (swear) and says, “I’m not feeling right at 3rd. I think I should move positions.” I was ecstatic and I thought for sure he was realizing that he just wasn’t that good. WRONG! The 2nd inning, he moves to the only position that has had more action than third base: left field.

    2nd inning: After missing 2 fly balls, one of which hit his glove, his chest, then he kicks it, a big, burly man comes to the plate and jacks a HR….13-2, no outs. Pop up. 1 out. Grounder to short. 2 outs. Female now up (who can actually hit pretty well) and hits a grounder in between me and 3rd base (who’s basically a statue) and it skids out to Olen. The ball is basically stopped when it gets to Olen however it somehow goes through his legs and the girl reaches 2nd. Frustrated with himself, frustrated with his life, Olen decides to take his anger out on the girl runner at 2nd. She rounds the bag (like all good runners do) and bluffs to 3rd. Olen, being the big-bad wolf that he is, still holding the ball like he’s Nate McLouth and shouts “Go on! I dare you to run!” As she retreats back to the bag, Olen says, “That’s what I thought. Next time you taunt me, I’m going to slap yo’ ass”.

    From there, it gets ugly. I won’t go into details, but I basically played roles of disciplinarian, mediator, and life-coach for the next few minutes and in-between innings.

    I think that might be my last Olen story. I’m not sure I can wear the church jersey with pride when Olen is sporting the same.

  9. It’s funny – just when everything was going so well for the Braves, the Nats come to town and everything falls apart. Two painful losses and disclosure of a Heyward injury = loss of optimism. Also, the announcers last night said Heyward’s MRI wouldn’t happen until today because “they couldn’t fit him in” yesterday. WTF? Are you telling me that they’re no way to get him access to a machine, somewhere in town, yesterday? It’s not like we’re living in the remote jungles of the Amazon or something.

    While I’m pissed about the result, I chalk up Kimbrel’s result last night almost entirely to bad luck (the walk excepted). He gave up three ground balls, none of them hit hard, but each was hit in just the right place. Sometimes (like when we play that Nats) the baseball gods just crap all over the Braves.

  10. Revolutionary new theory: Is it possible that Joe Mather is actually the subject of a reality show where some guy who’s never played is put on a major league roster?

  11. Mac @ 20

    That is probably the case and is being paid for by a TV station in Philly.

  12. Any team that plays sub .500 ball against the Nats year after year, does not deserve a play-off berth, or my fanatic devotion.

  13. Kimbrel has nothing to get LH Batters off his fastball.

    He absolutely carves up RH batters. He has to make a mistake for them to get a hit.

    He is going to have to work in more to lefties or throw the slider to the back foot or something. Lefties are timing him up.

    It is an adjustment he going to have to make, or we are going to see a steady stream of LH punch and judy hitters eat him up. I don’t think it is a work load thing. It is an adjustment thing. For comparision, Mariano saved 13 or the first 20 Yankees wins and he is 100 years old. K-Rod has saved 10 of 16 for the Mets.

    This bench is terrible. Even the nationals have Alex Cora and a Hairston brother. Those guys make contact, they can run a little, and catch the ball. They aren’t great, but they are infinately better than Mather/Brooks/Diory sh*t club sandwich coming off our bench. I don’t have all that much confidence in Fredi to make moves, but he doesn’t have any pieces to make moves with. His only chip on the bench (that he will use, more on that later) is Hinske. That is it. We may need to call up Boscan to lengthen the bench, then maybe Fredi will let Ross hit. Ross has almost as many HRs as Mather and Conrad have hits COMBINED.

    The whole ‘don’t use the only backup/emergency catcher ever’ thought process is retarded. You absolutely should must be selective when to use him, but to bury Ross on the bench is inexcusable.

    Braves are also one guy short in the pen, and about 2 short on the bench right now.

  14. #16
    Probably a better question last week.

    Jeter got hot this past weekend in Texas & began to drive the ball some. He was bad last night (0 for 5, buncha LOB), but the end-of-the-line talk was beginning just before the Texas trip.

    Fact is, he’s not going anywhere this year—maybe a drop in the lineup, that’s all.

  15. Yeah, that Wilson 2 seamer is just ridiculous.

    Didn’t Venters teach his 2-seam grip to Jurjens? Maybe he can teach Kimbrel a thing or two. I still have faith in Kimbrel, but maybe Fredi can start doing what he said he might do before the season started, and split up the closer duties a little going forward.

  16. Rivera has gotten to the point (wisely, imo) that he throws his cutter to lefties almost exclusively. When he does show a lefty his fastball, it’s out of the zone.

    Kimbrel should probably adopt the same philosophy. It’s just too easy for a lefty to drop the head of the bat on a RHP’s fastball.

    Cool video, Stu. Looks like a good culture there.

    Is it unfair for me to be so down on Fredi already? Just seems like he’s kept all of the bad aspects of Bobby and added a few of his own.

  17. Prediction: Mark Emmert will preside over the death (or, at least, the mortal wounding) of the NCAA.

    If ever the time was right for the creation of a new entity, it’s now.

  18. When he does show a lefty his fastball, it’s out of the zone.

    …and called a strike, anyway.

  19. Kimbrel has held LHB to a .538 ops and righties to a .439 ops. Venting after the game is one thing. Saying he has nothing to get LH off his fastball is another. Sure, left-handers hit him better, but only as good as a good-hitting pitcher.

  20. ryan,

    Don’t stop with the Olen stories. They absolutely crack me up.

    They also remind me of when I was playing church softball. With about six people in the stands, we managed to get into a brawl with the other team.

    Our minister called us in and lectured us about our behavior. Blush.

  21. I think Kimbrell’s controll is getting better, but he still isn’t putting pitches where he wants. I think he will be fine.

  22. 2 things:

    1. As much as we want to bash the pitching, we scored 3 runs in 11 innings against a team in the bottom half of the league in ERA, not facing their ace. Until some of the guys we know ought to hit start hitting, we are not going to do well. I wish we had a good RH hitting 1B to platoon at least every once in a while; Freeman looked absolutely lost against their LHP last night. I can’t wait for his adjustment period to be over.

    2. None of the 3 hits given up by Kimbrel were especially well-hit; they were just lightly stroked up the middle. And if the 3rd one had not hit the 2B bag, I think we get the force at 2nd and win that game (assuming the next 2 guys strike-out, again). They were actually hitting the crap out of Hanson last night; it was a credit to him to stay in and limit their runs, as he did. I counted at least 3 balls that were rocketed to or run down by flash Hinske.

  23. @35 yeah, considering that the league was batting something like .375 against Lannan.

  24. one other thing that is noticeable over the past weeks: nearly all of the Braves’ pitchers take themselves out of fielding position with their follow through. A lot of ground balls have gotten through (right over the pitcher’s mound) that would have been easy outs/double plays if Maddox had been there.

  25. @39

    No, they are like that little monster from Lord of the Rings that always says “I want my precious”

    Just really annoying and you just wish would go away.

    Another charicter would be Jar Jar Binx in Start Wars

  26. @40
    Is your problem with the portrayal of Gollum or with the character itself? Sure, he’s annoying to the characters in the book/movie, but he was supposed to be. I couldn’t get enough of Gollum’s character on the big screen. Binx might as well have been a dagger to the eyes and nails on chalk to the ears.

  27. You know it doesn’t really matter how the Braves play. The world is apparently ending in nine days.

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