Braves 6, Natspos 4

ESPN Box Score

If you tuned out after the bottom of the 6th, I can’t blame you, because you’d have been as surprised as I was to see the final result. But this is starting to look like a team that you can’t turn off.

First, things looked pretty dire. Julio Teheran started off the way he has entirely too often, and the Atlanta defense didn’t help matters. Denard Span started out with a dribbler down the third base line — Chipper’s signature play — but Chris Johnson is not Chipper Jones, so he threw a bit wildly, and Evan Gattis allowed his foot to come off the bag at first. Two batters later, Bryce Harper hit a two-run homer.

Teheran’s too homer-prone for anyone’s liking, but home runs to Harper will happen. So will squibbers. The second inning was the real problem. A leadoff walk to the 8th-place hitter was followed by a sac bunt and two singles, turning a manageable 2-0 deficit into a less ideal 4-0 deficit. (That was because Justin Upton foolishly tried to throw out the first runner, allowing the runner to advance into scoring position, so he could be scored on another single.) Then Dan Uggla failed to catch a throw from Gerald Laird on a Jayson Werth stolen base attempt, allowing Werth to get to third, but Teheran got out of the inning.

That was a good sign, as Teheran settled down. He retired the next eight men in a row (and nearly got a ninth but Evan Gattis dropped a foul pop-up). In all, from the 3rd through the 6th innings, Teheran gave up no hits and got four strikeouts against two walks against a pretty good offense.

Giving up four runs isn’t ideal. But seeing him hang tough and improve as the game went on was awfully good to see, particularly the strikeouts. Additionally, since he went six innings, it was the longest start of his career.

There was basically no offense to speak of until the seventh inning. The Braves treated Ross Detwiler like Cliff Lee, with one exception. Justin Upton hit a ball off the top of the wall in the 6th inning that I would have called a homer but the umpires looked at for five minutes and decided to call it a double. Had the Braves lost, that play would have loomed large. As it was, it can be blissfully overlooked.

A Chris Johnson solo shot in the 7th inning was the only run against Detwiler, but the Braves feasted on the Nats bullpen, as they did last July.

Tyler Clippard came in and got two quick outs. But then he walked Heyward, gave up a single to Upton, and Gattis walked the bases loaded. Then B.J. Upton drew a walk to bring in a run. Clippard was removed for Drew Storen… and Dan Uggla came up, swung at the first two pitches, and on the second, he flew out to deep center field. Inning over.

Chris Johnson singled, Ramiro Pena hit a perfect bunt single, and Blake DeWitt was sent up to bunt them both over. Andrelton Simmons struck out on three straight sliders, but Heyward walked the bases loaded again. And Justin Upton came to the plate. He pulled a grounder to third base, where the normally sure Ryan Zimmerman threw it away, and two runs scored. Tie ballgame. In the tenth, Uggla walked, and New Folk Hero Ramiro Pena hit a two-run homer — his first since June 15, 2011. The Kraken came in and that was it.

The bullpen was tremendous, as Luis Ayala, Jordan Walden, Eric O’Flaherty, and Craig Kimbrel pitched four scoreless. And the Braves drew seven walks against eight strikeouts. As long as the Braves keep drawing walks and hitting homers, they’re going to be an awfully tough team to beat.

232 thoughts on “Braves 6, Natspos 4”

  1. You are right, AAR, I checked the score when it was 4-1 and I was shocked when I checked the final score. I agree with you on Teheran. It’s good to see him hanging in there and completed six innings. Starting off the season with a 9-1 record is very very impressive.

  2. @251 from last thread:

    Not just without McCann and Freeman, but also without much of anything from Heyward, BJ and Simmons. This lineup is going to be freaking scary whenever it happens to be firing on all (or most) cylinders.

  3. So someone made this:
    :large

    Which prompted Jim Powell to respond with this:

    Hate to correct but that was “Gnatitudinal Adjustment”. Commit to the G. #Braves— Jim Powell (@Jim_Powell) April 13, 2013

    Well played, Jim. Well played.

  4. Main takeaway ……. The Braves bullpen is sick. The starting pitchers need to give this team a chance by throwing 5+ innings and every game will seem within reach with Jupton, Oso, and Ramiro lurking.

  5. Greetings from Paris…Who’s this Ramiro Pena guy and what did he do with the real Ramiro Pena?

  6. Great game. Playoffs in April!

    I agree that Teheran’s start was actually quite encouraging, as was his spring. Hopefully he can built on it and get over the hump, like Minor did.

  7. Zimmerman threw a ball to first in the early innings that almost got away, and his mechanics looked awful. He looked like he was throwing a javelin. Turns out it was excellent foreshadowing. His defense has really taken a nosedive, evidently.

  8. 7-I think you are right. He is using the same throwing mechanics he had last year when he was compensating for swelling and pain in his joint. The news reports made it sound like Zimmerman’s surgery was routine, but I don’t think so. It was arthroscopic to remove arthritic bone in the shoulder joint. There is never anything simple about arthritis.

  9. I have no idea why Zimmerman even threw that ball. Heyward was popping up from his slide when the ball got there.

  10. OK, so to keep it simple, let’s just get the win so we can carry take the series.

  11. Great recap as usual. Braves may lose another game before season ends, but these guys play the game. It’s been a great ride so far.

  12. Not sure if this has been mentioned enough, but Fredi managed a hell of a game last night. He got a much as he could from Teheran, despite the rough start; he managed the rested bullpen well; he pulled all the right strings as far as pinch hitters; he is really utilizing some of the defensive parts that the Braves have (ie. being able to pinch hit for Laird and shift Gattis to catcher, Johnson across the diamond, etc.)

    Conversely, Davey Johnson was admittedly dealing with a tired bullpen, but I feel like he stuck with Clippard and Storen far too long.

    Also, does Chip have another way to describe a successful bunt besides “it’s a beauty” ?

  13. OK, so to keep it simple, let’s just get the win so we can carry take the series.

    Meh. Win them all. Going to KC up four in the division is better than going to KC up two.

  14. Fredi is smarter when the pinch hitters hit. He must have chosen the wrong guys in the wrong times last year since they hit poorly. The Latin Martin Prado is great. Was keeping him Fredi’s decision or Wren’s or both?

  15. We know now why Martinez did the pitch the 9th against the FISH. How long does it take a shoulder sprain to heal. I separated my left should tripping over the 3rd base line and hurt for a long time.

  16. I’m pretty sure Latin Martin Prado is only on the roster because Dutch Paul Janish hurt himself in spring, right?

  17. Anyone outside the Atlanta or Washington TV markets know how today’s game works on MLB.tv. In the past, the FOX saturday games have been blacked out, but the MLB website has the game listed as “Featured game”.

  18. Did the BJ Upton walk remind anybody else of Andruw in 1999? Both times I expected pitches out of the zone, but I also expected our center fielder to flail at them.

    Hope we get BJ going. I’m sure he’s pressing a bit.

  19. Pena made couple of great defensive plays at 3rd as late inning replacement that starting 3rd basemen would have trouble making.

  20. I am pretty sure I might be sick of Pena by this afternoon. Fredi has him starting at SS today. If he thinks Pena has earned a start I’d much rather see him at 2B, especially with a sinkerball pitcher on the mound. Only excuse in my mind is if Simmons is still injured.

  21. Simmons hasn’t been earning much of a starting spot in the lineup of late. Uggla almost crushed a GS last night. I don’t mind seeing Pena get the day-game-after-the-night-game start at SS.

    I’d really like to see Melvin back in the leadoff spot and Simmons dropped to 8th for a while.

  22. And yes, Upton reminds me a lot of Andruw, in both “good-Andruw” and “bad-Andruw” ways. My other go to comp for Melvin to date is “what if Jeff Francoeur could play a reasonably effective defensive CF?”

  23. I’ve yet to watch a game where Simmons has not made a play at short that Pena will never make. I could care less if he bats .000. I’m still penciling him in at short.

  24. #14: I think Fredi has been doing a great job so far this season in just about all respects, but that bunt in the 9th inning was shades of the old stupid Fredi. Sending a pinch-hitter up with two on and no out, down two? On cue, Andrelton struck out so there we were with two outs and still two runs down. Yes, it worked out in the end, but only because Zimmerman has a hurt shoulder.

    #23: If you’re saying Ramiro Pena is a better defensive third-baseman than Johnson and FatJuan, I think most of us would agree.

    As far as the Braves, I’m loving this ride, but BJ and Heyward are terrifyingly awful at the plate right now, the only thing Uggla is doing is walking and every now and then hitting a solo homer, and Andrelton has had a few moments but a sub-.500 OPS is not gonna cut it. That’s four regulars, all of whom are supposed to be our top shelf producers.

  25. JH got a hit and 2 walks, Uggla 2 walks and Melvin a bases loaded walk. Walks won the game.

  26. Yes, Simmons is a fantastic defender. And he’s sucked ass at the plate all year, so far. It won’t hurt to get him a game’s rest and play Pena, and it certainly won’t hurt to drop the rookie’s ass to the 8 spot where he can do less damage with his Corky Miller-esque bat.

  27. Isn’t Hudson pitching today? I’d want the best possible defensive lineup out there, so that would mean Pena at third and Simmons at short.

  28. If Hudson is on he shouldn’t need a defensive guy at 3B. If his sinker is sinking and generating ground ball outs, they’ll go to SS and 2B.

  29. Which is why you put Simmons at SS and Pena at 2B. I could care less where Simmons hits in the lineup. With BJ hitting .100 there’s not much difference. But acting like Pena is some kind of great offensive upgrade over Simmons is a recipe for disappointment.

  30. No one is acting like Pena’s a great offensive upgrade (though he is hitting right now, unlike Simmons.)

    Resting your starter for a day game after a night game isn’t something shocking or new, man.

  31. I don’t mind Simmons (or anyone) getting the odd day off, but it’s very mildly eyebrow raising when it’s for Hudson, who I thought specifically asked for Simmons in his starts.

  32. Dude just won a game against the primary divisional competition with a bomb in the 10th. He’s played great in his role all year. It’s a day game after a night game, and the starting SS is struggling. There’s absolutely no reason NOT to give Pena an atta-boy start, get Simmons a breather, and take your chances.

  33. I never said resting a starter was shocking. Nor is it the least bit surprising that Fredi would do something only mildly stupid. And unless Simmons is still injured it makes more sense to give an old man like Uggla–who sucks in the field even on a good day–some rest instead of your all-world fielder at the most important defensive position. And methinks you are exaggerating Simmons’s struggles. He went 0-5 last night, but otherwise he had four hits in his last eight at-bats.

  34. Dollars to doughnuts that Simmons is still hurting a bit. Management seems to be super-cautious with their young players so far this year, which is fine by me.

  35. 9-1 with a half depleted lineup and two of the cornerstone OFers sucking wind, and we’re already into “Fredi is stupid and dumb” territory. Classic.

  36. Will be interesting to see if pitchers begin to try to get Gattis out with letter-high, middle-in fastballs.

    Better not miss.

  37. So are the Hawks better off with the 5- or 6-seed?

    They’ve putzed around enough so that the 4-seed (with its home court advantage) is out of reach.

  38. This #PlayerPoll show on MLB.tv is taking points off my IQ and making me hate baseball.

    Host: What’s your favorite baseball tweet of the week?
    Fan: (Quotes tweet by Adam Jones)
    Host: That’s a really great tweet indeed.

  39. @43

    With the fifth seed and a matchup against the Nets, I think the Hawks should be able to take that series in maybe six games, but then they’ll almost assuredly get stomped by the Heat in at most 5 games. With the sixth seed and a matchup against the Pacers, the Hawks are *probably* going to lose, but I think they do have a realistic chance at the upset, and although the Knicks are on a hot streak, I can see the Hawks pulling off that upset as well, if a bunch of breaks go their way. They’ll then almost assuredly get stomped by the Heat in at most 5 games, but that would be in the conference finals–their best postseason showing in their Atlanta tenure, which would hopefully draw some big-name free agents who see that the Hawks are just a step away from the Finals. That won’t work if they get the fifth seed and lose to the Heat in the second round, though.*

    It’s an interesting tradeoff–the fifth seed gives them the better chance at winning their first-round series, but with the risk of yet another second-round loss that’ll have everyone thinking “Yep…same old Hawks,” while the sixth seed gives them the better chance of getting a legitimate championship-caliber team in the near future, but at the risk of losing in the first round.

    *And obviously, it would be nice if someone could upset the Heat, but I really don’t think anyone in the Eastern Conference is capable of pulling that off.

  40. Oh well, no televised game for me. I’m in Florida and Fox has decided that the Devil Rays/Red Sox game is what I want to watch. Dammit.

  41. Just in case nobody has said it in a while: Fuck MLB’s blackout policy.

    Game on the radio today for me I guess. At least it saves me from Chip. Go Braves!

  42. I love how Harper just stands in the box after he strikes out as if he’s the only player to ever whiff and he’s just stunned that it’s happened to him.

  43. @58 – It’s even more satisfying to those of us stuck in the Gnats broadcast zone who have to listen to how Bryce Harper was the first person ever to think of running during a baseball game.

  44. #50: In this case, I’m suffering from a “black in” policy. I’m in Central Florida visiting the folks, which is Tampa Bay broadcast territory. I can understand wanting to air Rays baseball down here, I just wish the Red Sox were playing the Royals so I could watch the Braves/Nats.

    The blackout, I suppose, does apply to the MLB Extra Innings package, which my dad just bought last week. They don’t have the Braves/Nats on the roster, presumably due to Fox airing the game. So…I’m screwed by circumstance.

    #59/60: MLB pregame folks spent all their time talking about how the Nationals were so awesome. Braves mentioned only in passing, like, “Hey, I guess we have to have some token discussion about the 9-1 team.” Of course, all the pre-game promo was about Bryce Harper, highlights from him playing in last night’s game. Didn’t see a thing about the Braves highlights from the game. Life as a Braves fan, noticing these things.

  45. Pretty sure even Juan Pierre could have made that throw, but of course the announcers start gushing about Harper.

  46. LOL, the gushing on the Game Break during the Rays/Red Sox game.

    They show the replay of Harper throwing from deep short to get 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!”

  47. So they just played a yuengling commercial on the radio. Is it available in Georgia? If so, why the heck did they skip over kentucky? Argh.

  48. Pretty sure even Juan Pierre could have made that throw, but of course the announcers start gushing about Harper.

    I could have made that throw. The fielder was already up with the ball and rearing back when Uggla rounded third base.

  49. Harper’s decent. Acting like he’s the first guy to ever throw out a runner from shallow left field is absurd.

  50. Look at the way Harper turned and looked! Such poise! Such hustle! Man this kid has all the tools.

  51. This interview with Detwiler is absolutely pointless.

    El Oso Blanco, however, is not pointless.

  52. That was the plan since he was having trouble with them yesterday. It worked… until it didn’t.

  53. Let them get all the accolades, we’ll just keep racking up the wins. fine by me.

  54. Do you think the Fox announcers realize Detwiler was one video review away from giving up three runs on two dingers last night?

  55. In Atlanta, Harper would have been making that throw from the infield. Meanwhile, while FOX is gushing over him, Gattis calmly hits one over his head. Love it.

  56. Bittersweet watching David Ross bat for the Red Sox. He put in some great service time with the Braves, and used to be the Best Backup Catcher In Baseball.

  57. They had Bryce Harper highlights up within minutes on the Sox/Rays game. Still waiting on a Game Break to show Gattis’ homer.

  58. Huddy 54 pitches through 4. Straus at 79. Sure would be nice to see that Nat pen again soon.

  59. Still waiting on Gattis highlights. I honestly don’t think it’s a conspiracy, but it certainly has the appearance of a conspiracy.

  60. What’s the record for center field warning track fly outs by one team in a single game?

  61. Strasburg at 95 pitches through 5.

    Not sure if he comes out for the sixth, he was at 110+ in his last start I think, though considering that most of their decent bullpen guys have pitched a lot the last 3-4 games they might need him to go one more.

  62. I don’t always start my ace with former arm issues, but when I do, I leave him in for 110+ pitches early in the season.

  63. Former Best Backup Catcher In Baseball alert: David Ross just smacked one deep over the Green Monster against David Price.

    Still waiting on the Gattis highlight. If baseball occurs without Bryce Harper, does it even exist?

  64. They finally had another Game Break…to show the Espinosa home run. “Gattis homered earlier”, they perfunctorily added to the commentary.

  65. @118 – perhaps, but it was still a well hit ball to the warning track.

    Now BJ….BJ….I hope this doesn’t end as badly as the Uggla deal.
    he’s grounding out weakly on a bunch of 3-1 pitches :/

    lol @122

  66. I like how Harper peels off for the dugout before the ball hits the first baseman’s mitt. That, friends, must be the seventh tool of baseball.

  67. I’m in western New York. Anywhere that the FOX game is Boston-Tampa (or conversely Cubs-Giants) is blacked out. Basically, there is no mlb tv between 1 and 7 pm on Saturdays.

  68. That wasn’t ump karma; that was the right call. Unless you think just getting calls right is a pleasant surprise.

  69. Oh my God, somebody mute these FOX announcers:

    “Nats would be winning 1-0 if not for the Zimmerman error”

    Really?

    and that was the right call at first, btw

  70. Shocked the talking heads did not credit JH with a Harperish catch in the dive at warning track.

  71. If there ever was a time for the conventional bunt. Clutch Pena just hits it over the second base instead.

  72. Give it to Karros there though, Simmons has to run it out. be po’d after the play is over.

  73. again like yesterday, bunting in that situation is so stupid.. regardless of the outcome

  74. no patented heyward grounder to the right side, please

    whew, he beat it out….why couldn’t he hit another warning track flyout, it would’ve been a lot easier on my psyche

  75. 196- And doesn’t that sum up the day, and season to date, perfectly? Let’s sweep these guys tomorrow!

  76. 197 — Only 93 today, yeah, but more consistent location than the last couple of outings.

  77. I would trot Kimbrel out there and give him Monday and Tuesday off. Sweep would be huge tomorrow

  78. and Reyes out 1-3 months with a terrible slide into second. Seriously, why do the bases need to be so solid?

  79. I’m not saying this team is the 1996 Yankees.

    I’m just saying it’s constructed the same way and seems to have a similar approach – get into their bullpen, shorten games with your own shutdown bullpen, power up and down the lineup.

    ‘Bout to run some pitches-per-inning data to check my hypothesis that this team excels at working counts and running up opposing starters’ pitch counts. Will let y’all know what I find.

  80. @210 Too slippery? Breakaway bases like old tear away football jerseys? Go to double first base to avoid collisions there?

  81. #211
    The back end of their ‘pen was terrific, of course. And in the post-season, the rest of the ‘pen (as we well know) stepped up in the situational spots. In my worst dreams, I still see Graham Lloyd gettting Ryan Klesko out.

    The ’96 Yankees had a pretty shaky starting staff, actually. Outside of the workhorse Pettitte, they didn’t have anyone throw 180 IP. They endured lotsa injuries & had more “spot starts” than you’d ever want.

    Of course, the guy who really kept things together was Mariano Rivera, who was a set-up guy that year. He threw 107 IP.

  82. Hmm…Smoltz, who lost to the Yankees in ’96 (and ’99) fears the Braves lineup strikes out so much that they wouldn’t make a good postseason team.

  83. We’re never a good playoff team. Strikeouts definitely could hurt in the playoffs – an inability to make contact really bites you in the ass in high-leverage situations – but what has really killed us in the playoffs of late is pitching and defense. If we boot the ball like we did yesterday, the whiffs won’t matter.

  84. Just saw the Gatis HR – if you can park a tomahawk job on a shoulder high 96mph fastball you have a future in this game.

  85. #216: I’ll do it. I watched the last four innings, and closely monitored the first five.

  86. A few days ago the ESPN BBTN folks were discussing the Braves and how they compare to the Nationals. Barry Larkin said that the reason the Nationals were a better team was because their lineup could produce more productive outs.

    I think of that line now on a regular basis. Even Larkin should recognize that he is grasping at straws when he utters something like that. You can surely make a case that the Nationals are a better team on paper than the Braves, but when your ace in the hole argument involves productive outs you should probably wrap it up. There should be some baseball version of Godwin’s Law pertaining to that.

    I heard Smoltz make a related argument on the radio recently, basically stating that the Braves struck out too much to be effective against top pitching. While I understand that strikeouts are not a positive outcome for a batter, if the team takes walks and hits the ball hard I think you take that tradeoff. The Braves have had a lot of long flyball outs thus far to go along with their strikeouts. Those outs can advance runners and usually don’t result in double plays. Those outs also sometimes get wind-blown into homers. If this team can be aggressive on balls in the strike zone, I won’t be too angry if they miss a few. We might forget that the Braves in the past were just aggressive at the plate no matter where the pitch was thrown.

    As it is, early returns are making Frank Wren look very smart. I don’t expect the pitching to be this lights-out forever, and injuries happen. I also don’t expect BJ Upton and Heyward to hit .100 for the year. Hopefully Justin Upton hits like this for awhile.

  87. Sure we have lots of high K rate batters, but many of them are elite talents who can, and often do hit well against top pitching. That’s one of my favorite things about this team. In a tight game against any ace pitcher, I feel there’s a chance that one of our guys can hit one out. I applaud Wren for realizing that the 2012 team couldn’t run with the Nats, and instead of trying to patch the holes of departed talent (Chipper Jones and Mike Bourn) the way JS may have, adding cheaper and probably inferior versions of the lost players while leaving the rest of the roster the same, he went out and added guys who have really changed the look of the club while enhancing the bench depth as well.

  88. Some Nats quotes after the game:

    “Honestly, I think our lineup is better,” Strasburg maintained. “They’re hot right now. It’s early. It’s not about how many wins you necessarily finish with in April. It’s how many you have at the end of the year.”

    Said Espinosa: “They’re good. I don’t think they’re better than us…They’re hot right now.”

    I hope the Nats get to see our lineup sometime this season when it is actually hot, with Heyward, BJ, Freeman, Uggla and Simmons also swinging like they are capable. Either way, it’s pure joy to beat them.

  89. I don’t know how you can look at the potential in both lineups and think theirs is better. I don’t think it’s even close. Whether or not many of our players play to that potential remains to be seen. I think their lineup is more solid and less streaky, but we’ve got them beat in potential.

  90. @223 Rather than grasping at straws – after all, Smoltz is one of the people making such an argument – these guys are simply being forced to confront the poverty of their received wisdom. Don’t get me wrong, I dislike strikeouts as much as the next guy. But the utility of a “productive out” has been pretty much laid to rest by most insightful observers of the game, including many of the front office folks who shape the market. The belief that “productive outs” make a meaningful difference (over the course of the season) is a matter of faith – until Larkin shows me the data, I’ll disregard his argument – but for too many it has become Truth with a capital “T.” That’s too bad. Someone could easily make a decent argument that the Natspos are a better team than the Braves, but anyone who thinks Washington is superior because of “productive outs” is too intellectually lazy to make that argument. As you say, Stewart, they should just give up.

  91. Sent the recap, Alex. Thanks!

    #225: “I hope the Nats get to see our lineup sometime this season when it is actually hot, with Heyward, BJ, Freeman, Uggla and Simmons also swinging like they are capable.”

    I’m with you except I’m not sure we know enough about Simmons to have a baseline for what he’s capable of… And we’re all still waiting for Uggla’s capability to start being capable, aren’t we?

  92. So, this is a photo that MLB claims is from Gattis’ home run.

    How in THE WORLD did he get that out? It’s a 98 MPH fastball that’s nearly past him, his hands haven’t turned over, and somehow he pulls it out of the park?

    Or it’s simply a shot from another AB that’s been mislabeled.

  93. I’m worried about saying this out loud, but I think Zimmerman may be paralleling Brian McCann’s career. Both are 1984 babies, both came up in 2005, both have played like All-Stars and dark horse MVP candidates, and both have sustained serious shoulder injuries. McCann is about 7 month older than Zimmerman, and due to his stellar defense Zimmerman has been worth 6-9 WAR more, but they’re similarly great players of a similar age, and they may be about to enter similar decline phases, accelerated by the shoulder injuries. I wish them both full recoveries, but that’s my fear.

  94. Maybe so. Lucky for Zimmerman he has the luxury of SEVEN years left on his contract to try and get things sorted out. McCann, for the first time in a long time, will be playing with something to prove when he comes back. I hope his body allows him to do it.

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