Braves 3, Natspos 1 (recapped by John R.)

Thanks to AAR and all the Braves Journalistas letting me do the recap for today’s game, and to Mac for making this all possible.

Let’s do this in stages. Stage One: Fun Fact time. Allow me to repeat Slugworth’s comment in the previous thread: “The projected season record is now 147-15.” As facts go, that’s a pretty fun one.

Now, Stage Two: Who am I? Why am I here? Well, I’m John R. Nice to make your acquaintance. I’m here to do the recap.

I grew up on the Braves in the ’80s and was so obsessive about the team that for the first couple years of my fandom I thought TBS stood for “The Braves System.” There were a lot of things the Braves shorted us on in the ’80s: things like Wins, On-Base Percentage, games without Rafael Ramirez – those kinds of things. But the one thing they never shorted us on was product. During the ’80s, there were 162 games in the season and you got to see damned near every one of them. With the rock-solid team of Skip, Ernie, and Pete, I was able to savor every Rick Mahler start, thrill to the rise and fall of Brad Komminsk, and witness every time Jerry Royster did something to not get on base. It was a fun ride, with a whole bunch of winning therein, but it has lately come to a cruel end with the dissolution of “The Braves System” on TBS. Now, the games are scattered to the four winds on Fox Sports South and wherever else one is lucky enough to catch a game.

This is all prelude to Stage Three: Let’s Watch The Game!

So I’m not an expert on today’s game. It was blacked out and I didn’t get to watch the whole thing. I thought for sure when the Braves/Nationals was chosen as one of Fox’s national Games of the Week, I’d get to watch it. But I forgot to account for the other game: Devil Rays vs. Red Sox. Florida used to be owned by TBS and the Braves, but now the “powers that be” prioritize network coverage elsewhere around the majors (Tampa Bay Rays) and minors (Miami Marlins). So, thanks, Fox.

I then turned to my dad: “Hey, dad? Didn’t you pay $200 of your hard earned dollars to the cable company for the MLB Extra Innings package?” “Yes, son, I sure did.” “Great, let me just – argh, no Braves/Nationals there, either!” “Well, son, this is how they getcha…” So, thanks, MLB.

So my pops and I settled in to watch the Red Sox and Devil Rays, with the hope there’d be plenty of cuts to the game we really wanted to watch. So here’s what was happening in the Braves/Nats game if you were depending on Fox for your coverage:

Game Break 1: “Strasburg starts out hot. Look at Jason Heyward strike out swinging!”
Game Break 2: They show a second-inning replay of Bryce Harper making a throw from deep short to get Dan Uggla by a mile. “Uggla tries to score but Harper says ‘Not on my watch!’” “He’s got all five tools: he can hit, run, power, speed, and that arm!” “He’s also got that sixth tool: Mental makeup!” “Yeah, you can’t buy that sixth tool!”
Game Break 3: “Look at this home run by Espinosa! Wow! Nationals move within one!

Fed up with this blatantly Nationalistic coverage, I got to watch the last four innings because a friendly Braves fan in the previous thread played Reed Richards and opened up the door to the Negative Zone for me. Thanks to illicit servers in Slovakia, after closing a bunch of pop- up ads in my browser I got to see a feed of America’s Team beating up on the Natspos and it made for a wonderful day of baseball.

Stage Four: What Really Happened.

Yes, Dan Uggla was thrown out at home by Harper in the first. The Braves mounted an itty bitty rally that got Snitkered. The next event of significance: Harper got to watch a ball sail way over his head and into the stands. The ball put his team behind 2-0, a lead they would never overcome. The ball was hit by Evan Gattis, aka El Oso Blanco, aka the New Best Backup Catcher In Baseball. Of course, Gattis actually has the kind of story that Bryce Harper’s coverage would justify. Maybe Fox and MLB and ESPN will catch up one day, but for now the narratives being pushed are “Nationals Ascendant!”, “Harper Is Kind Of Like A God”, and “Braves = Old News So Let’s Ignore Them.” Meanwhile, Gattis smacked his fourth homer in thirty ABs and it didn’t merit a single Game Break from Fox. Screw ’em.

Some other replays we didn’t get to see:

Tim Hudson delivered. Save for his one bad inning in his first start, he’s been nothing short of stopper material. Which is as it should be. He came out very strong against the Nats, spacing three singles in the first four innings, and the solo home run by Espinosa was the only damage they were able to do against him. He finished strong, retiring the last seven batters he faced, and he pitched efficiently: 90 pitches, 60 strikes.

Next up in the bullpen were O’Flaherty and Kimbrel, both of whom we’ve been leaning on a ton in the early going, but they pitched six up, six down baseball between them. Kimbrel picked up his sixth save.

As for the rest of the hitters, Fredi desrves a tip of the hat for starting Ramiro Pena, this year’s Brooks Conrad so far for his stirring play off the bench. He spotted the sputtering Andrelton Simmons at short today, going 2 for 3 with a walk. Chris Johnson continued his good play with a timely hit, putting himself on base in the 9th so he could score an insurance run. Uggla had one hit but he did smack a few balls to very deep parts of the park, but also embarrassed himself on a swinging strike in which he did his best impression of a drunken prima ballerina doing her worst impression of a corkscrew.

Meanwhile, BJ still looks lost, Andrelton’s sole AB was an ugly strikeout, and Heyward continues to be sloppy at the plate. He did make a scintillating catch in right-field, however, stealing a double, pleasing his pitcher greatly, and not meriting a replay from Fox.

Stage Five: The End. Thanks for having me here. Hope it was enlightening and entertaining. If not, don’t blame the house. Yell at me in the comments section.

201 thoughts on “Braves 3, Natspos 1 (recapped by John R.)”

  1. Great job, John R. The blackout policies really piss me off, too. I was peeved for a few minutes yesterday when it looked like I wasn’t going to get the game – I’m in the Nationals blackout zone so MLB network wasn’t showing it like everywhere else, and MASN, the Nats channel, was showing the Orioles game. Thankfully I discovered I also get MASN 2. Crisis averted; would’ve been pissed if I was forced to follow the comeback on radio.

    A few observations of mine from being at the game today:

    *Our guys had Strasburg timed pretty well for the most part, and got good wood on a lot of balls, but unfortunately usually toward the deep part of the park.

    *Great catch by Heyward, but it was never in doubt for me. He had it timed right off the bat.

    *That was a fantastic catch by Uggla to get Harper’s foul ball. It didn’t look like he was going to make it in time until the very last moment.

    *Nats fans really weren’t all that into the game for the most part; Gattis clobbering that ball really took the wind out of their sails. They could only be motivated to really cheer when Harper was up, and a bit in the 9th.

    *They did get really angry at a couple calls; the stolen base by Justin Upton, and the play at first where Johnson held on. Having not seen any replays myself, I thought Justin was out initially but he also seemed to be tagged high so I wasn’t sure, and also that Chris just held the bag. There was a second round of booing shortly after the Upton stolen base and originating from the concession area (where there are TV’s), so I assume they saw a reply where he looked out.

    *Kimbrel’s velocity looked down to me (they weren’t showing the gun in the 9th, but it didn’t seem as hard as Rodriquez was throwing for the Nats), but he seemed to hit his spots and have his breaking ball working. I’m not worried, probably just a typical early season dead arm period.

  2. AS made a sorry bunt fly to the pitcher. Otherwise great recap.
    Edit-Enjoy seeing Harper admire the Gattis HR going way over his head.

  3. Nice recap. Only thing to correct would be that Simmons only AB was a terrible PH bunt situation where he failed miserably. Terrible call and terrible execution. Nice work by this team so far. 10-1 with limited contributions from Uggla, Heyward, BJ, Simmons, and freeman. Going to be more and more interesting to see how this plays out when BMAC returns. Can’t bench the guy catching the starters regularly and crushing it offensively.

  4. Bravo, John R, brilliant recap.

    MLB would never do it, but I’d gladly pay $300 a year for blackout-restriction free MLB.tv.

  5. I think MLB would gladly do it, as long as they could get Fox to keep paying them the same gobs of money that they do now. I don’t think it would actually cost Fox any real money to end the blackout restriction, but there’s no upside for them to get rid of it, and MLB isn’t feeling enough pressure to try to renegotiate the terms with Fox.

    MLB.com has the TV feed of the Braves game up now, and the Fox radar gun has Kimbrel around 93-94, which is… a bit disconcerting.

  6. I was at the game today. As much as the things that crowds tend to do at baseball games — The Wave*, booing the opposing pitcher for throwing to first but not your own, freaking out over harmless fly balls — really annoy me, I was somehow even more annoyed that this DC fanbase doesn’t seem to know that they should be doing those annoying things.

    The crowd I was sitting with, mostly early twenties, might as well have been vacuously sipping mimosas at brunch most of the time. They were like zombie baseball fans. Somebody put my in this Harper jersey. I was told this team was good. So here I am. Guess I should smile pleasantly and point my eyes to the field every so often. What should I say now? “Oh, I do so love that bearded guy! Ahaha. Aha.”

    Then again, we didn’t really give them much to get pumped about today, did we?

    And I really can’t complain. I did get a free Gio bobblehead to smack in the face when it suits me.

    This is the first time I’ve seen the Braves actually beat the Nationals, and it’s been five or six games at this point. I was nervous throughout. The way Strasburg had Gattis working just to spray some foul balls backward in his first AB, I have to admit, I doubted if he could contribute offensively today. Not against that 96 MPH heat paired with that change-up.

    As Gattis came up for the AB that resulted in the homer, I told my fiancee, “I don’t think he has a chance.” But then I remembered, he’s El Oso Fucking Blanco, and added, “Well, maybe…” Sure enough, that ball he hit was a no-doubter when it left the bat. My fiancee is quite new to baseball, and she knew it too, immediately standing up and saying as if to herself, “That’s gone.”

    Before Gattis hit the bomb, a Nationals fan did stand up to address Braves fans around him: “Do any of you Braves fans know who Bryce Harper is?”

    I had to do a little research. Turns out he’s the left fielder for the team that’s currently trailing the Braves by three games in the NL East. Good trivia.

    *To be fair, a really pathetic one sort of started briefly and collapsed out in center in the eighth or so.

  7. @ 5 Was he holding on so hard with left hand he broke his left shoulder blade? Unpossible.

  8. Awesome recap. One quibble: Heyward did not look “sloppy” — he was *right on* a couple of fastballs and just hit them to the wrong part of the park. He’s close to breaking out.

  9. @11 Yea, really dead crowd today. In fairness, I’ve been to Nats games where they were much livelier.

    @14 I agree, thought for sure his last one off Strasburg was going out.

  10. @4 – the TV guys declared Upton out and it was definitely close. However, I don’t think the camera angle showed definitively that he was out. IMO I don’t see how anyone could complain if he was called safe or out. Does anyone agree with me or am I on my own with this?

    Btw, good job on the recap John R.

  11. Remarkable game by Hudson. Lots of contributions from the team, but man…Huddy pitched a gem.

  12. Thanks, y’all! Was fun to do. Didn’t have much time for perfection, but it’s okay. A few errors obviously creeped in: My judgment on Heyward was his 0-fer plus the one AB I saw from him he reached out and pulled the grounder to second we’ve seen too many times from him, shoulda been a DP but he beat it out thankfully.

    And yes, it wasn’t a K Andrelton fell victim to, but an awful ugly sac bunt attempt. Even worse.

  13. @14- Yep. Heyward’s flyout to CF in his first AB was nothing to sneeze about; he turned on the heat to straight away and just missed hitting it out. He’s due.

    Bossman looks pretty lost, meanwhile.

  14. Great recap! Much enjoyment. :-)

    Winning is fun to watch, that’s for sure. By my count, Uggla had three really good defensive plays in this game, so that’s always nice to see. Also, his infield single was the kind of hit he never seemed to get last year is a few of those over the course of a season is the difference between .220 and .250. If we can get BJ and Andrelton on track, this team will look very good.

    A note on tomorrow: I’ll be attending the ball game, so the recap will be up a little later than normal.

  15. Simmons also didn’t run on his bunt attempt. The commentators pointed out that he was lucky the pitcher didn’t let the ball fall to the ground.

  16. The out-of-market Fox broadcast blackouts end after this season, when the new national TV contracts kick into effect. Why they couldn’t have accelerated that aspect of the contract and put it into effect this year as a carrot to those of us who pay $130/year, I haven’t a clue.

  17. Harper’s throw to get Uggla was about 12 feet up the line. If Uggla was not going to be out by 30 feet everyone would have laughed at him.

  18. Good job, John R!
    You packed a tremendous amount of info in a very entertaining recap.
    Sure hope you do it again soon.

    And hats off to the Yale Hockey team!
    It’s now very possible that we’ll have a future president who’s missing some front teeth!

    Go Braves!

  19. Howdy, Nats’ fan here. Couple things. I was at the game so I can’t speak to the coverage bias on Fox, but I truly find that hard to believe. We were absolutely invisible to national MLB media for the first 7 years of this team’s time in DC and while it has increased I can’t see it being that bad. And it’s not like the Brave aren’t a marquee team. They are loaded with stars.

    The crowd, I thought, was pretty solid given the fact that they had little to cheer about. Even Espinosa’s homer kind of felt like too little, too late.

    On the wave, I personally have no problem with it, however, there is an effort by hardcore fans via Twitter to have the wave eliminated at Nats Park, so thats prolly why it was a weak attempt.

    All in all, you guys look very good and have sustained a great pace while many of your star players (minus Justin, of course) have done nothing offensively (BJ, Heyward, Uggla, Simmons). Obviously, your current pace will not continue, so it will be interesting to see how it all shakes out. I believe we dominated you guys early last year and then ending up just sneaking it out in the end. I learned not to get too excited or depressed after last year. I still say we’ll be there in the end and it will go down to the wire in the NL East. GO NATS!

  20. Per DOB:

    #Braves are 6-0 with a 1.60 ERA in the past six games vs. #Nats and 10-10 against them since beginning of 2012 season.

  21. I usually don’t get annoyed by the Harper and Strasburg coverage.. but I think it’s ridiculous that Sportscenter just showed highlights of yesterday’s game and the only highlights were Francisco, Gattis, and Johnson striking out. Seriously, that was it.

  22. Yeah, the saturday thing is just a small step. The larger problem is for those folks who live somewhere their team is blacked out on mlbtv, but don’t have access to that team’s cable network/provider. But a small step is better than none at all, I suppose.

  23. Most amusing thing about that article timo linked in 39 is Fox’s lack of tildes. It makes it somewhat nonsensical.

  24. Another theory among certain Nats is that Harper is hell-bent on proving that he is better than the Angels’ Mike Trout.

    “We made it to the playoffs last year — that’s all I’ll say about that one,” Harper said.

    Harper was better than Trout in 2012 because the Nationals made the playoffs and the Angels did not; it’s right there.

  25. The larger problem is for those folks who live somewhere their team is blacked out on mlbtv, but don’t have access to that team’s cable network/provider

    I want to be free of having to purchase the entire suite of products from my teams cable provider, and purchase the baseball product only either from them or MLB, which everybody else in the world can do to a large extent, but not in their monopoly area.

    That’s the change that needs to come.

  26. @47 With more people cutting cable, it might, but the MLB will have to increase the price and allow those TV deals to have some effect on MLB.tv, such as showing their ads during the process. This of course cuts into MLB’s profit from the service. It might happen at some point, but I’d bet it’ll take at least a decade.

  27. I don’t think it’s exactly news that the guys on the Nationals think their lineup is better. It would be news if they said the opposite: “Our lineup’s okay, I guess, but you know who I think has a really good offense? The Braves. They’re really good, you guys.”

  28. Bethany, I watch the replay of the Gattis HR on my DVR and slowed it down. The picture was not shot from center field, but left field. Gattis had made his hip turn just before he smashed the ball.

  29. “Blue Jays have inquired about Braves SS Tyler Pastornicky”

  30. #45, 46: Mike Trout’s 2012 numbers are superior in all respects compared to Harper. Trout’s OPS was .963, Harper’s was .817. 31 more runs, 25 more RBI, 31 more SBs, 9 more walks. Same amount of games played (139), Trout had slightly more plate appearances, so their numbers make a great A/B comparison.

    I never thought “Rookie Of The Year” had anything at all to do with a team making the playoffs.

  31. @50: Point taken, but the pundits have already begun marginalizing the Braves, and when Nats players say things like this it fuels the fire. The announcers are already finding ways to say the Nationals lost rather than the Braves won (“If Zimmerman hadn’t made that error…”), so player words feed the beast. The narrative serves the larger point that it’s a foregone conclusion that the Nationals are better (don’t trust your lying eyes): “There’s no way the Braves can keep this up.” “The Nationals have a better lineup.” “This is a fluke.” “Look at how the Nationals lost this game when they should have won.” Others have already mentioned how “The Worldwide Leader” has ignored the team regarding highlights, so I guess we’ll just sit back and watch this unfold.

  32. @54 I’m sure it wasn’t in Harper’s life plan to be obliterated by another rookie and have what was his birthright taken from him.

  33. #41: “I usually don’t get annoyed by the Harper and Strasburg coverage.. but I think it’s ridiculous that Sportscenter just showed highlights of yesterday’s game and the only highlights were Francisco, Gattis, and Johnson striking out. Seriously, that was it.”

    Well, this matches well with Fox’s blackout on Braves highlights during the Red Sox/D-Rays game. ESPN on the one hand, Fox on the other, both pushing the same narrative: Nationals are the cool kids, Braves can be dismissed. They’re going to hold onto that narrative until events overtake them and they can no longer push it.

    Another thing I noted earlier was during the MLB.tv pre-game show, when I was still living under the presumption I’d be able to catch a broadcast of the Braves game, it was ALL about Bryce Harper. They showed lots of replays of the previous night’s game, you know, the one where the Braves mounted an exciting comeback? But MLB.tv’s coverage made it seem the only things of significance that happened that game is what Bryce Harper was doing.

    I think it is a conspiracy to put the full weight of their mythmaking capabilities to make Bryce Harper a marquee figure in baseball, someone for the average fan to tune into and care about. Unfortunately, reflecting reality as it really is becomes a casualty.

  34. #56: Heh. Speaking of birthright, I just checked out his Baseball Reference page and learned Bryce Harper has four names! Bryce Aron Max Harper. Is there anything about this guy that’s not obnoxious? And he spells “Aron” the hip and trendy way.

  35. 50- It’s not news that the Nats think they are better, but it is noteworthy that if the same questions were asked of the Braves, or I suspect nearly any other team in baseball, they would give stock answers about how good the other team is and they they WOULD avoid claiming that they were simply better.

  36. Harper himself doesn’t bother me, it’s the coverage. Does anyone remember that Sunday Night Baseball game on ESPN last year? It almost felt like a parody, it was so over-the-top. All they did for that entire night was fawn and obsess over Harper. They spent what felt like the entire hour of pregame talking about Harper, the entire game talking about Harper and all the night’s SportsCenter/BBTN coverage was Harper.

    I’ve seen games in which new players get talked about a lot, but that was the more ridiculous thing I have ever witnessed involving Major League Baseball. The entire game, ESPN talked about Harper. They would show fans in the crowd and an announcer would say: “you know they’re looking forward to seeing Harper tonight.” There would be a constant countdown to his next at-bat: “five batters until Harper comes back up.” Interviews about Harper, gossip about Harper, Harper’s life story, everything.

  37. @58 As much as Bryce bothers me, I have to acknowledge that he probably didn’t name himself. Though he’s always been advanced for his age…

    Great start for BJ!

  38. Good lord. Harper is a very talented 20 year old baseball player. “We made it to the playoffs last year — that’s all I’ll say about that one,” sounds like a pretty mature answer to the journalistic trollbait equivalent of “Are you still beating your wife?” I can’t imagine a universe where I care what the pundits or Ken Rosenthal’s opinion of the Braves matters much to me either.

    Harper is a key player on a rival team. that’s all the rooting interest I require. Whether or not he’s an egomaniac doesn’t seem particularly material – I am sure there are some on my team too.

  39. So apparently Wilson Ramos badly strained his hamstring last night?

    IMO that is a bad blow to the Nats. He and Suzuki are in no way comparable at the plate.

  40. Never thought that I would be forced to admit that getting CJ as a throw in was a brilliant move by Wren.

  41. Uggla’s the only one in this lineup so far with a shitty approach to Gio. I have little hope he’s going to “snap out of it” and be the star-caliber player we’re paying him to be.

    Fairness requires me to update my post and say Pena looked silly, too.

  42. Huh, maybe pena should bat left handed only, he’s looked terrible when batting from the right side.

  43. @88 I don’t think anybody has hope that he will live up to his salary at this point. Uggla’s star years are well behind him–I just hope we can get something resembling competence from him.

  44. In 80 career MLB plate appearances as a right-handed hitter – a tiny sample, admittedly – Pena has a hilarious -33 wRC, or 279 OPS. But again, SSS.

  45. 89-I had the same thought yesterday. His swing from the right side bears no resemblance to that from the left.

  46. I’m really hoping that was some bizarre Galarraga joke when Chip said “El Oso Blanco” translates to “The Big Cat”. Then again, Chip.

  47. @93 I think he might have said “The Big Gat”. Still dumb.

    Nice job by Simmons of salvaging an out from that situation.

  48. I think everyone would like more from Uggla, particularly since he’s getting quite a decent sum on a team with a decidedly mid range salary.

    If you go by what is paid on average per win though, he isn’t that overpaid. I think the last number I saw was 6M per win, and Uggla was at 3.2/3.3 WAR last season. That was with a positive contribution from his defense of course, which I don’t know if we can definitely count on again.

    All that aside, it would be nice if he didn’t look so bad at the plate.

  49. Was neat to see Simmons swipe the bag at second on a force out. Not the kind of play you see very often.

  50. @ 102,103 – Indeed.
    and now what is up with the umps zone?
    this better not lead to anything
    edit: and it doesn’t, but it still ticks me off that they cleared the pitcher

  51. A non-Braves Journal friend of mine just texted “Gio is gonna need some anti-aging drugs after this one.”

    Perhaps, or maybe just some alone time in his locker with the latest issue of Penthouse.

  52. Wow…everyone in the lineup can do that (we’ll except for Heyward). This team is on fire.

  53. There’s no way Zimmerman’s shoulder is okay. He’s hurting and afraid to say something.

  54. Yeah I don’t see how his shoulder could be good enough to play when he can only throw side-arm/discus-like right now. If he can’t throw then how can he hit?

  55. #134: And I haven’t heard the Nats announcers mention anything about it at all. Denial mode, perhaps? Maybe our Nationals friend at #35 can give us some insight?

  56. @ 119,
    No way, I’m taking credit for that one. I benched him on my fantasy team right before the game started.

  57. Here are some interesting numbers:

    Name BABIP LD%

    Heyward .069 14.3%
    B.J. Upton .130 8.3%
    Uggla .238 17.4%
    Simmons .226 26.7%

    On the other hand, the Braves pitchers have the lowest BABIP in the league by far, so I suppose it all evens out.

  58. Jason has hit maybe 3 balls on the barrel the entire year. I know he’s not this bad…but I worry. I hate everything about his stance/swing.

  59. I really like the way this series is shaping up. 1st game a comeback in extra innings, 2nd game a pitchers duel, and this game is looking like a blowout. What a way to make a statement.

    @144, in a lost cause and with the Nats bullpen, I think you leave him in until he’s tired.

  60. It will be great to see the nats bullpen again. Better still not to see EoF or Kimbrel.

  61. Chris Johnson has mastered that lob wedge into no-man’s-land. Do we dare to dream about our 3B platoon being more productive than end-of-career Chipper was? I think we’ve got a really good chance of seeing that happen.

  62. @145 He’s hit that many on the barrel the last game and a half, so I seriously doubt that’s true.

  63. @149, I’m exaggerating – maybe he’s hit 5 or 6 balls hard. But the point is that he’s mostly rolling over stuff or popping out weakly to the opposite field. He looks awful. Awful. As the pitcher releases the ball he’s still bouncing up and and down with his weird knee-bend and he’s gripping and re-gripping the bat. He’s got no chance with that approach.

  64. Yeah, Heyward’s had several games in which he looked right on every pitch but lined it just foul or hit it right at a defender.

    And right on cue…

  65. Good to see BJ start to turn it on. And Heyward gets a hit. Wow . . . Teams are going to fear us this year.

  66. Heyward’s LD%, as I just noted, is 14.3%. That’s really low, but it has been rising and, after today, will rise again. He’s about to explode.

  67. Nope, just one run. Disappointing, isn’t it?

    Gotta save those slams for games that are still in doubt.

  68. Was that the first time we’ve had all three of our outfielders on the bases at the same time?

  69. What do we do with Gattis? Can we bring McCann along slowly? Like maybe give him an extra month in the minors to get back into shape?

  70. And how good has Maholm been?

    Not to jinx the guy or anything, but y’know Maholm, in his 3 starts (18.2 IP/18 K), hasn’t given up a run yet this year.

  71. Tomorrow’s headline “Harper’s beard tries really hard. Oh, and Nats get swept”

  72. If you count spring training then Maholm’s scoreless streak is nearing 40 IP. If that doesn’t jinx him then nothing will.

  73. @160 It certainly does afford the possbility of giving McCann the maximum time to get healthy and ready, which is a nice luxury. But in general, I think using Gattis as primary backup catcher, selectively sitting Heyward and Freeman (or McCann) against certain lefties, giving the occasional day off to the Uptons, plus having him or McCann DH in AL parks, and using him in the big PH situations when he’s on the bench, should together provide quite a few AB’s for Gattis. And there’s always the likelihood Freeman, McCann, Heyward or one of the Uptons gets hurt, and it’s back to everyday starts.

  74. @167, I think you have to find a way for Gattis to play almost every day. We’re a better club with his bat in the lineup. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out. It’s definitely a “nice problem to have”, but it’s a real problem.

    If Heyward can play CF every now and then then Gattis could spell all 3 OFs, Freeman, and McCann. Is that enough ABs for him? I think so. I hope so.

  75. Sweeping the consensus best team in the MLB at their park is ______?

    I say making a statement.

  76. Yeah, Gattis becomes a much more dangerous Martin Prado when McCann and Freeman return.

    50/50 split behind the plate. (Laird is a true 3rd catcher.)

    1B when Freeman needs a breather.

    LF when Upton needs a breather.

    LF when Heyward needs a breather (shift Upton to RF.)

    1st RH PH off the bench when the game is on the line on his off days.

    One of Reed Johnson or Success and Laird take the hit on their playing time and at bats, but until the league adjusts and someone starts getting Gattis out with some regularity, you find that guy at bats.

    Per @168 – yes, you also get Gattis time in LF when Melvin sits, moving Heyward to CF and JUpton to RF. (Though you do want to get either Johnson or Success some reps somewhere, and backup CF seems a good idea as any. (I LOVE getting Johnson into the game for Heyward with the big lead today.))

  77. This Gattis issue reminds me of the scene from “Major League” where Willie “Mays” Hayes makes the team. “Get him a uniform,” said Lou Brown. Gattis is hitting like Pedro Cerrano, so even if his infield defense is no better than Roger Dorn, you have to find a place for that bat.

    I jinxed him, of course (DP grounder).

  78. Nice to see BJ have a good day at the plate. Don’t know much about the guy yet, but if he’s been pressing then maybe this will loosen him up.

  79. Lombard-oopsie!

    Gotta give Zimmerman credit, he’s been sucking up those shots to third.

  80. Looks like Melvin might have turned a corner.. I’ll hold judgement till next week, after a couple of games to see if it sticks, or just seeing the ball well today.

    this is my first comment here after about a year and a half of lurking and reading almost every comment posted in that time… feels good

  81. @173

    You’re assuming the Braves will keep three catchers when McCann returns, which would surprise the hell out of me considering the Braves never do that.

  82. Bourn left the game in Cleveland after hurting his hand.

    He was sliding headfirst into the base.

  83. @173 I don’t think we have both Johnson and Success when McCann comes back. Seems to me one of them has to be the odd man out.

    @180 I think you can keep 3 since Gattis can play other positions. Even though I don’t see a point to having him around with McCann back, I just don’t see them getting rid of Laird.

  84. It sure feels like Wren has gotten lucky in avoiding some of the moves he tried to make. Peavy, Furcal, Dempster, maybe Griffey…

  85. Peavy got hurt. Pitchers get hurt. It happens. Furcal would have been a solid addition to the club. Dempster was a bad idea that luckily didn’t happen. Junior couldn’t have been worse than Garret Anderson.

  86. Yeah the reason Gattis is more than a “nice problem” is that carrying 3 catchers is not something you see a lot (not until rosters expand anyway), and Laird is under contract for 2 years I think. The Braves have always made creative use of the DL, so maybe Laird will get bunions or gout or something. Who knows? But with Gattis hitting *better* than an in-his-prime-McCann, then sitting him is going to be a negative. Not to mention there’s no telling how long it will take McCann to find his swing.

    Gattis probably won’t hit this well *all* year, but I say ride it while you can. He’s hit this well at every single level since his comeback, so rather than holding our breath waiting for a return to earth, maybe we should just recognize that the guy can freaking rake and play him.

  87. Furcal would have been a solid addition to the club.

    He signed for three years before the 2009 season. He was pretty ‘meh’ in 2009, was good in 2010 but only played 97 games and finally, while receiving a 12 million dollar salary, sucked to high-heaven with the Dodgers in 2011 before being dumped off to the Cardinals.

  88. I get where the Nats have to say they feel their lineup is better than the braves and this is just a bad weekend. But trying as I might, where do they have an advantage over our lineup? 2b? 1b? and this doesn’t even factor in using backups at catcher and 1b and even ss for a time this series. Seriously, I’m now looking for reasons to temper my optimism, but I cannot.

  89. Maholm’s scoreless streak continues. Between him and Minor, our lefties have only given up one run in 32.2 innings.

  90. @192, I think our lineups are similar but we have more power. You can argue that they have better starting pitching (current series notwithstanding). I think their shitpile of a bullpen is going to be the thing that gives us a chance to finish ahead of them.

    Them trading Morse is a headscratcher to me. I thought he was destined for stardom.

  91. C – Ramos/Suzuki v Gattis/McCann/Laird: adv Braves
    1B – LaRoche v Freeman: adv Braves
    2B – Espinosa v Uggla: PUSH
    SS – Desmond v Simmons: PUSH (defensive value for Simmons)
    3B – Zimmerman v Francisco/Johnson: PUSH
    LF – Harper v Upton: adv Braves
    CF – Span v Upton: adv Braves
    RF – Werth v Heyward: PUSH (defensive value for Simmons)

    And don’t get me started on the overhyped Gnatty rotation…

  92. @195 that’s exactly what I was thinking. And you didn’t even touch on the bullpens or the bench.

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