Braves 11, Nationals 10

San Francisco Giants vs. Atlanta Braves vs. Washington Nationals – Box Score – July 19 20, 2012 – ESPN.

   “That’s why,” said Azaz, “There was one very important thing about your quest that we couldn’t discuss until you returned.”
   “I remember, said Milo eagerly. “Tell me now.”
   “It was impossible,” said the king, looking at the Mathemagician.
   “Completely impossible,” said the Mathemagician, looking at the king.
   “Do you mean—” stammered the bug, who suddenly felt a bit faint.
   “Yes, indeed,” they repeated together; “but if we’d told you then, you might not have gone—and, as you’ve discovered, so many things are possible just so long as you don’t know they’re impossible.”
——The Phantom Tollbooth

So it was Tommy Hanson versus Stephen Strasburg. In the first inning, Tommy Hanson gave up a 3-run homer to Michael Morse: 3-0, Nats. In the fourth inning, Tommy Hanson gave up a 3-run homer to Ryan Zimmerman: 6-0, Nats. In the fifth inning, Hanson gave up two straight singles to start the inning, and Luis Avilan came in to walk the bases loaded, walk in a run, and give up a two-run single. 9-0, Nats.

Against Stephen Strasburg. It was impossible. Completely impossible.

Brian McCann came up in the 6th and hit a two-run homer. Strasburg came out of the game at that point, giving way to our old friend Mike Gonzalez, the former Automatic Lefty. In the same inning, Martin Prado hit a two-run double. It was 9-4. Cristhian Martinez came in and held the Nats scoreless for two innings despite giving up four hits.

Then, in the 8th, Dan Uggla singled — one of his three hits on the day, his first multihit game since June 5 — and then stole second. Janish walked. Prado walked the bases loaded. Heyward walked in a run. Chipper singled in two runs. Freeman singled in one more. It was 9-8. Medlen pitched a scoreless 8th.

In the 9th, Uggla walked and took second on a wild pitch, and Janish was hit by a pitch. Then, Fredi Gonzalez pushed all of his chips to the table and actually sent David Ross to pinch hit. Ross struck out, but Michael Bourn hit a two-run triple. Prado struck out and Heyward grounded out, the second day in a row that they’ve stranded Bourn at third after a one-out triple, but never mind. It was 10-9 Braves. And Kimbrel was coming.

It would not be that easy, because it was the Nationals. Kimbrel gave up a home run to Danny Espinosa, and it was 10-10, and you could feel the hope deflating from your body.

But you were wrong.

O’Flaherty held the Nats scoreless in the 10th. In the bottom half, Uggla reached on an infield single, took second on a throwing error, and took third on a passed ball. The Nats fatefully pulled in their infield, and Paul Janish did the sort of thing that Luis Gonzalez did to Mariano Rivera in the World Series in 2001, except this wasn’t the World Series, but still. He blooped an RBI single over the drawn-in shortstop. 11-10 Braves.

Chad Durbin, fresh off becoming the first pitcher in major league history to give up two three-run homers in the same inning in extras, retired the Nationals in order. The last play, fittingly, was a terrific diving stop on a grounder up the middle, with Dan Uggla throwing out Danny Espinosa — the man who’d tied the game in the 9th — from his knees. The Braves won, after being down 9-0 to Stephen Strasburg with 12 outs to go.

Before tonight, the best win of the season was clearly this one: down 6-0 to Roy Halladay and the Phillies, the Braves won 15-13 on a Chipper Jones walkoff homer in the 11th inning. But the Phillies aren’t a great team this year. We play them just for pride and old times’ sake. We play the Nationals for all the marbles. They’ve been the best team in the league all year, and they have killed us for years. Tonight, the Braves got smashed in the mouth and they stayed on their feet and kept punching. Today, the Braves showed some heart.

Walk tall, boys. You did yourselves proud.

149 thoughts on “Braves 11, Nationals 10”

  1. I just moved to DC and was able to go to the game tonight, it was incredible! Couldn’t wait to get home and read the recap. Anyone know of a good Braves bar in DC to watch the non-DC games?

  2. So after coming back from 6-0 against Halladay and 9-0 against Strasburg, I kind of want to see what they do down 12-0 against Verlander. Can we set that up somehow?

  3. Fredi just said he didnt want Kimbrel or EOF pitching 4 straight days, so both are unavailable for tomorrow. We better get some long outings from our starters tomorrow.

  4. @6 I was thinking about that myself… That is something that should get a lot more attention

  5. I gave up on this game after seeing Hanson give up a 2nd two-run homer, but McCann’s homer got me to check back in & witness our big 8th inning and the rest of the game. Amazing win & quite fun to get to only watch the good part.

  6. 7: Yeah, I dunno. Really a legitimate clusterfuck–two of the most important games of the season, probably, and your two best relievers all worn down. I don’t know that I’d be declaring in advance that you won’t see them, but any way you deal with that, it’s just a tight spot the Braves are in.

  7. Never in serious doubt.

    RIP Skip, hope you were watching from above. Miss you.

    Great recap, Alex. I went to bed when it was 9-0 Nationals and just woke up to THIS. Wow.

  8. Well done, AAR.

    I’m celebrating with a fellow Georgian at the top of Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Ain’t the beer cold?

  9. 7, 10 The good thing about that is that the Nats burned their relievers as well.

    6, 8 I second that. What a career. Some other stats that deserve attention: Derek Lowe, who gave up nine runs today, is now 8-8 with a 5.04 ERA. And Uggla is closing in on Chase Utley, .223 to .228. Good times.

  10. Dan Uggla was amazing. As I was writing about this game, I became amazed how many times I kept writing Uggla. He seemed to spark everything and then…that play to end it. Hopefully, this is what gets him going for the rest of the year. If Uggla can provide some kind of consistent right-handed bat, the lineup seriously just got better.

  11. Still glowing. Would be nice to take 3/4 this weekend.

    From previous thread…

    Thanks for the offer, but I’m staying downtown & heading out to Morrison again tomorrow & Sunday, doing an EDM fest there that runs from 5 pm to 2 am. Doubtful that I’m gonna get to do much more than that. (Here’s to 24-hr room service.)

  12. Red Rocks…. I and my cousin tried sneaking into a Springsteen concert there in the year nineteen hundred and…. never mind.

    Crawled all the way up the mountain to some fence at the back of the crowd and a bouncer/security guy was just standing, waiting for us… waving us away w/ his flashlight like a bored traffic cop.

    Got back to my cousin’s car, and he’d DROPPED HIS CAR KEYS somewhere in that Westscape. We hiked back up and–Lord I don’t know how–found them.

    Almost as improbable as being down 9-0 to the Strasburg and then….

  13. An amazing writeup. As an elementary Ed teacher, I can appreciate the Phantom Tollbooth reference. Well, I’m shipping out to my motherland Ireland today. First stop is in Dublin for 3 days then the wife and I are hiking the Dingle peninsula. You guys keep the boys rolling and I look forward to coming back to a team that’s traded Varvaro for Joey bats and Pastornicky for Jered weaver. Take care, BJ!

  14. Of secondary importance, the Braves were the only NL East team to win last night. Fish, Phils, and Mets all lost.

  15. Per my fantasy team, Hansons last 30 days

    7.32ERA 1.55WHIP 29.2IP 37H 24ER 9BB 29K = unacceptable

  16. Love me some Phantom Tollbooth.

    I can’t watch the games right now, so I’m going to try to guess the score by the level of hysteria on here. I knew we’d be down at least seven when someone questioned Tommy’s commitment to baseball. It’s not like he had to put in a lot of effort to remake his delivery in the wake of an injury that came close to ending his career, or anything.

    It’s supposed to be games like this — or when you eventually find out Player X has been sucking because they’ve been playing with an injury for Y amount of time — that teach fans to have an even keel.

  17. 29 Ks and 9 BBs in 30 IP isn’t horrible at all. It’s the 5 HR in that span that are killing us. Especially when the HRs are occurring with men on base, due to all the hits he’s giving up. I feel like he might be hurt again.

  18. Yeah, its mostly from his past two starts. He’s walking too many and then its being followed up by long HR’s. I just saw the pitch that Morse hit out and Tommy actually hit his spot. The one to Zimmerman was bad. Last two 9.1IP 17H 14ER 6BB 10K. Hopefully he’ll figure it out before his Miami start.

  19. Will this be the game that sparks the Braves to ramp things up for the end run? It certainly feels like the kind of game the announcers will talk about late in the season… “it all started with the extra innings game against the Nats…”

  20. Venters activated from DL and Diaz DL’d with thumb injury. Hopefully we will see one of those thriving AAA RH bats before too long. I’d take Mejia!

  21. We really need a combined 15 innings from our starters today. Let’s hope Sheets outing is consistent with his last one!

  22. Yeah, the Braves are playing fast and loose with the DL, what with Jonny and now Diaz. But so long as the commish doesn’t mind, I don’t either.

  23. That game was just…. Wow.

    I didn’t get to watch it live, so I was surprised when I turned it on late last night that the condensed game wasn’t up. I was even more surprised that that was the case when the Nats were up 9-0 after a few innings. WTF. Well, figured I, there’s a ton of rain, so maybe it’s just a rain delay. (I had started skipping the bottom halves of the innings once Tommy gave up the 3-run shot and it became clear that he was pitching backwards to poor effect.) Even after McCann’s shot, I didn’t really think it was going to happen.

    One of the major drawbacks for watching it by delay is that you can see the time bar, so after Heyward dribbled out to finish the bottom of the 9th (two really poor results for him and Prado in the 9th and 11th, but w/e), I had a sneaking suspicion that someone was going to run into one off of Kimbrel. Makes sense given how much praise he’s gotten lately. :-)

    Anyhow, at that point, I switched to the condensed game, otherwise you always have a pretty good idea of when the games going to end. SUPER excitement to see that little bloop from Janish land. And combined shock/excitement that Durbs was able to finish it off! Great comeback from him after sucking so hard last time out.

    What a great win for the Braves! Man, if the Nats had ended up winning that, it would’ve been a disaster.

  24. Diaz really is hurt.

    I will say this for Hanson, he kept us in the game. Had the Nats scored 11, we would have lost!

  25. Somebody complimented Fredi’s bullpen management, and I have one quibble with that.

    We went all the way to Double-A to get a left-handed reliever when Jonny Venters hit the DL. You’d think it was because we, ya know, wanted a left-handed reliever.

    But after making his ML debut facing one left-handed batter and striking him out, Luis Avilan has been shifted to the Livan Hernandez role.

    His next outing, against the Giants, he came in losing 6-0 with runners on second and third to face a righty and two switch hitters. He gave up a two-run scoring double to Posey, then struck out Pagan and Sandoval. 8-0. He was then run back out there for three more innings, allowing only one run of his own.

    That was almost the story again last night, when he came in losing 6-0, with runners on first and second and THREE RIGHTIES COMING UP. He went line-out, wild pitch, walk, walk, 2-run single, double-play to allow both inherited runners and one of his own runs to score. 9-0.

    He was pinch-hit for in the top of the next inning.

    This was the same nonsense that Fredi always pulled with Livan. The guy is your long reliever because he’s your worst reliever. You bring him in when your losing, sure, but can’t you use a middle-quality reliever to get you out of the inning before you go the long man?

    Only, Avilan isn’t Livan. Livan was signed because he was a starting pitcher who could eat some innings. You went all the way to Double-A to get this kid, because of his handedness. Why is he pitching long-relief? Couldn’t we have called up Buddy Carlyle for that? Or how about Yohan Flande, who is both a starter AND a left-hander?

    Granted, Durbin isn’t very good. But he was a better choice to get out of the 5th. And if he had, you could then pinch hit for him, and then give the ball to Cristhian Martinez until you had an idea of whether the team had a chance to get back in the game or not. Which is what Fredi did, he gave Cristhian the ball and let him pitch til we were back in it, then he went to the good part of the bullpen with Medlen, Kimbrel and O’Flaherty.

    But if he had stopped the bleeding before worrying about innings, that comeback would have won the game in 9.

  26. @37 – I will also point out, this is exactly what he did to Gearrin. The kid has been a late-inning reliever in AAA, with a great K-rate, and a projection of right-handed/groundball specialist.

    He comes up, makes his first appearance in long-relief, and pitches two scoreless innings. And then is asked to pitch the VERY NEXT NIGHT, after pitching multiple innings, and comes in with a man on. Gives up a two-run homer, (one inherited run allowed, one earned run.) That’s all Fredi wished to see of him, as he was sent to packing to Gwinnett, never to be seen again. We have since been subjected to Anthony Varvaro, he of the 5.28 ERA, for reasons we will never know.

  27. Still not sure how we won that game. Looking back on it now that the excitement of the moment is gone, I would say that the Nats played absolutely awful. Their bullpen was terrible and they played poor defense, which I guess is about the only way you can blow a 9 run lead. It will be interesting to see how their young team bounces back from that. Can they just flush it and move on or will it lead to a hangover-like losing streak like we experienced after blowing that lead against Toronto a while back.

    Their manager took all the blame for last night. Contrast that with Fredi who consistently blames his young players. I bet the Nats come out ready to play today. Davey Johnson is perfect for that job.

    On our side it was awesome to see Uggla have a night like that. Game MVP for sure. Let’s hope that’s the spark he needs to get going.

  28. I will say this for Hanson, he kept us in the game. Had the Nats scored 11, we would have lost!

    Know how to win.™

  29. Heh. Also on the “bright” side, Tommy’s no longer outpitching his peripherals. His xFIP’s now lower than his ERA.

  30. @37

    You’re honestly complaining about not playing lefty/righty during a blowout? At that point, Avilan is the long reliever. You don’t use a pitcher to get out of an inning when down 7-0. If you do come back, you’ll want that guy later (case in point: we needed Durbin in the 11th), and if not, who really cares?

  31. With this strike zone he is going to have to give up a bunch of hits today. But his fastball looks good.

  32. Weird question to ask, but does anyone here own/have recommendations on radar detectors? Ohio is a terrible state for driving.

  33. Currently, my FHE factor is lower with Sheets than with any of our other starting pitchers.

  34. @37

    I said Fredi did a good job with the pen last night. He managed it well and they had a big role letting us to get back in the game.

    Davy did a poor job and it cost them the game. Plus, it really has put them in a bind for the rest of the weekend.

  35. Francisco-Janish-Sheets have to be at least close to the worst 7-8-9 hitters we’ve ever had. Sheets is historically bad. Francisco, alas, probably has too much raw power, and there have been plenty of worse 8 hitters than Janish. But damn, that is a terrible, terrible, terrible bottom third.

  36. Interestingly, Sheets has 54 pitches through 4, whereas Jackson has 72. If Sheets can hold it together through 7 innings and we can limit Jackson to 5 innings, that would be pretty awesome for the second game.

  37. I really don’t get all the negativity on this board of late. We are coming off one of the biggest wins in team history. We are winning this game with a 1-0 shutout.

    Do we have to go 162-0 and win every game by 15 runs?

  38. And how ’bout Ben Sheets so far?

    Amazing you could find anything up there in the dark.

    They still have those guys stationed along the rocks. Occasionally, a messy raver will get the bright idea to go for a climb & get quickly turned away.

    Was talking to one of the security guys & he said, “Oh, this is nothing. It’s much worse when the jam bands play. You can’t even have a conversation with those people. We have even more security for those shows.” I can only imagine.

    I’m guessing this is the Springsteen show you’re talking about:

    A Remembrance:


  39. Smitty, I imagine a lot of it has to do with the state of the starting rotation.

  40. Does anyone else remember the game in either 02 or 03 when Furcal took a bad hop grounder to the groin and was on the ground for about 10 minutes? I simultaneously felt much sympathy but thought it was hilarious at the same time.

  41. Sheets is amazing. He always had such great stuff that I never realized how smart he is as a pitcher. Still early yet, but I’m ready to say lightning meet bottle.

    The negativity is probably a PTSD thing after last year. But I also think sometimes “negativity” is imagined. E.g. it isn’t necessarily negativity to talk about how bad Francisco is. And I am genuinely curious if anyone can remember worse 7-8-9 hitters. Back when we had Lemke and Belliard starting together that was a guy who usually OPS’ed in the 600 range followed by a dude in the .500 range. But most of our pitchers were decent hitters.

  42. According to gameday, Sheets’ fastball loses a couple mph pretty quickly; he’s only at 70 pitches now, but he’s already at 89-90 instead of 92-93 early in the game.

  43. What we should do is have the bases loaded when Sheets comes up, so we have to pinch-hit for him. That would be my strategy.

  44. Sheets certainly made the pitches he had to make. Not much luck involved there. Call me impressed. Here’s hoping he can stay healthy.

  45. As long as Medlen makes plays like that, I’ll try not to say anything about his flat-billed cap.

  46. It’s too bad we don’t have a guy who has shown he can be an effective starter in the major leagues just sitting around in the bullpen…oh wait…

  47. So since O’Flaherty and Kimbrel are unavailable I wonder if Medlen is going to stay in for the 3 inning save.

  48. Can’t say I’ve ever seen Fredi give a pitcher a vote of no confidence taking a pitcher out in the middle of an AB before.

  49. 109 — I think the rule is that the pitching coach can’t make a visit during the middle of the PA without changing pitchers (injury notwithstanding). I could be wrong on that, though.

  50. Well, that’s a rally killer.

    The umpire is lucky he didn’t tear his ACL in that collision.

  51. 114 — Grounder to LaRoche at first, who stepped on first for the force. He then threw home as Prado had broken for the plate. Prado was caught in a rundown and Zimmerman ran him down at the plate and ran into the umpire who fell backwards. Heyward advanced to 2nd.

  52. They have too much talent for that to happen again but it would be nice to put them into some semblance of a slump.

  53. Speaking as a guy who couldn’t hit mediocre high school pitching, Dan Uggla looks lost despite last night’s heroics.

  54. Struggla. Sigh. Strike three was like a foot outside though. Still, he has no clue of the zone right now.

  55. Let Medlen pitch the 9th for the rare 3-inning save. Save the rest of the bullpen for tonight and tomorrow.

  56. Dan: Thanks. I was so caught up in the moment, I totally forgot he pinch hit for him. In that case, bring out the Durbin.

  57. Hmmm, 1.5 games behind Washington for first place with 2 games remaining in the series.

    That makes for some easy math. Let’s get greedy, fellas.

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