Braves 9, Nationals 0 (the sequel)

Once again, we have a second Sunday recap — this one by mavery. Again, my apologies for breaking up the threads. Enjoy!

ESPN box score

What a great day for baseball! Beautiful day, wonderful temperatures, and the Braves going for the sweep.

I was lucky enough to get to go to this game, with seats 11 rows back down the 3rd base line. While they offered a good view of most of the action, this unfortunately meant I didn’t quite have the angle to see where BJ Upton‘s lead-off line drive hit the wall. It was his first of two doubles down the third base line, and it came off the first pitch he saw from Gio Gonzalez. Things went down hill for Gonzalez from there. After Heyward felw out to second, Justin Upton walked, setting up Evan Gattis for a run-scoring double. C. Dalton Johnson brought them both in with the first of the four singles he’d collect on the day. After a 1-2-3 top of the second, Justin Upton lead off the 3rd with a solo HR (oppo, baby) and Andrelton Simmons brough in Dan Uggla and Johnson on a three-run shot into the Braves bullpen. I swear I saw Bryce Harper shed a single tear as he watched it fly over his  head. The Braves were up 7 and they’d push it to 9 in the 6th off a Jason Heyward double (he’s FINE) and a Gattis sac fly. This of course, was after Gonzalez left with what my scorecard tells me is 5IP, 7H, 7ER, 3BB and 2SO. So Gonzalez was bad. Paul Maholm was better. He was so much better than bad that he was good.

Like, really good. Like, filthy. 6 strikeouts, one walk, and only 4 hits. No one even got to third until he was chased by two singles in the bottom of the 7th. Luis Avilan and Cory Gearrin went the rest of the way without incident. The crowd at the start had looked like at least 35,000. By the top of the 8th, it looked like I was at a Marlins game.

What is there to say about this team? They’re hitting on all cylinders. You’d like to see Simmons level out his stroke a bit, and BJ goes after the first pitch a bit too often (although hard to complain about 3-5 with two doubles), but as a team, they’re swinging the bats really well, and the pitching’s been great. Braves pitchers allowed 5 runs to the nationals over three games. That’s REALLY good! And the defense has been phenomenal. Reed Johnson (in relief of Heyward late) had two brilliant plays in right, and to my eye, Dalton’s been more than adequate at first. I suppose its important to point out that this won’t last, (it just can’t) but for now, the Braves are playing great ball in every aspect of the game, and I had a blast watching them do it today. I only wish I’d brought a broom.

50 thoughts on “Braves 9, Nationals 0 (the sequel)”

  1. Maholm’s K of Bernadina was the highlight for me. He crushed him with back-to-back breaking balls (I too was way down the LF line so hard to tell exactly what the pitch was) in a critical situation. Bernadina couldn’t even lift the bat off his shoulder.

    Ironic that two weeks into the season the parts that seemed like the most worrisome just over two weeks ago (starting rotation, 3B, C) have settled in so well. I just hope that getting back the missing parts (Freeman, BMac, Venters) adds, and doesn’t subtract, horsepower.

  2. About the Nationals, everyone knows they’re the better team because they’re in third place behind the Mets.

    Meanwhile, from the third inning in game one of the series on, the Braves outscored the Natspos 18 to 1.

  3. Chance to keep racking up some W’s here.. Home for two with the Royals, then 4 at the Pirates and 3 at the Rockies. Going 6 and 3 in that stretch looks pretty attainable.

  4. Jeff, for the record, both of those breaking balls to Bernadino were well off the plate. The called strike two was six inches outside or more. The called third strike was closer, but he’d shown the ump up on strike 2 and should have known better than to take it.

  5. @7-

    Yeah. That was one of the few things the crowd reacted to strongly. (Another was the many Braves fans giving Maholm a standing ovation when he checked out in the 8th; there were lots of “boos” in response.) Crowds will always boo close calls that go against them, so I wasn’t sure. No way to tell if it was a good pitch from where I was sitting.

    It was a fun game to be at. :-)

  6. There’s an old Southern tradition that on Sundays sweet tea would be made with twice the usual amount of sugar — the idea being, since drinking alcohol on Sunday is/was prohibited, at least you could get a caffeine and sugar buzz. At the restaurant I managed a while back we would make a half-batch of “Sunday sweet” tea for the odd customer who might appreciate it. These double-recap Sundays remind me of that, so here’s to Braves Journal keeping it Sunday sweet!

  7. By the way, apropos of Gattis, I took a look at some other old rookie catchers at Fangraphs.

    Also, yes, Maholm has been absolutely superb. Sure, he may give up a run eventually, but since joining the Braves he’s basically pitched better than ever before in his career, and I have to imagine that it helps that the Braves are the best team he’s ever been on. I imagine that Roger McDowell is one of the better pitching coaches he’s ever worked with. I think some of his improved performance may be legit. I mean, hell, if you spent the first decade of your career in Pittsburgh and then came to a playoff team, wouldn’t you be stoked?

  8. Enjoyed your fangraphs article as always, AAR. I fondly remember the whole Braves dugout rubbing Olsen’s Rally Cast back in the day.

  9. So I’m back. What’s been happening in baseball the last two weeks? Braves holding on? Looking at the schedule I see we’re finally playing a good (great? best ever?) team on the road. Hope they didn’t rough us up too badly.

    So, yep, The Official Braves Journal College Hockey Team won an NCAA Championship. And it was an amazing experience in so many ways I can’t even bring myself to bore you with it en masse, so here’s my proposal. I want to take every interested Braves Journal member out drinking, ply them with good whiskey (my treat), and bore the hell out of them with stories about this. The great advantage of this over simply recounting what happened here is that I get to tell the same story several hundred times rather than once. I call this the Yale Is Number One So The Next Round’s On Me, or YINOSTNROM agenda.

    Now, Go Braves… I’m ready for the season to start. Is 162-0 still in play? (Did I mention the Cliff Lee Exception?)

  10. I assume that fans are excited in Atlanta and attendance will be up this year when the Bravos keep winning. Going 161-1 could make the games less exciting. Sell outs bring in money especially with the demand based pricing. Would that increase chances of resigning McCann or will $ be needed to extend other players? 5,000 more fannies a game would increase attendance 400,000.

  11. Is Gattis biggest failing that it is impossible for even a fast runner to score from first on his line drive doubles off the wall?

  12. The beautiful thing about this team is that there is room for growth. Like Bobby Cox said, every team wins 60 and every team loses 60, the good ones are determined by what they do with the other 42.

    The Braves are 11-1 in the first 12 of that 42 and 4 games up on the gnats. That my friends is an outstanding start.

  13. While I object to the spelling of the name “Nationals” in the thread header (much prefer Natspos or Natinals), I do love that 0 next to them.

  14. I think it’s a shame that the Braves don’t play on Jackie Robinson Day. Every team should play today.

  15. Just hope this 11-1 team doesn’t end up like the last 11-1 team Fredi managed: the 2009 Marlins. They started 11-1, then lost their next seven games to fall back to the pack at 11-8.

  16. Jonah Keri, with a very unique headline, writes nice things about Gattis and Maholm specifically and the Braves more generally.

    link

    Also, why i7 8HRs in 2 weeks not more of a story?

  17. From Jonah’s article:

    Per ESPN Stats & Info, Maholm is the fourth major league pitcher in the expansion era to win his first three starts of a season without allowing a run. The other pitchers to do so since 1961 are Luis Tiant (1966 Indians), Woody Williams (2003 Cardinals), and Zack Greinke (2009 Royals).

  18. @7 – Maybe, I couldn’t judge in/out very well from my angle. Bernadina gestured at the ump after the first pitch, which drew the fan reaction. Doesn’t change the fact that Maholm got the necessary outcome at the necessary time.

  19. Dempster. Wren is looking brilliant by being damn lucky that Ryan decided to ply his trade elsewhere.

    Thanks Dempst, thanks a lot man.

    Geez, I’ve heard of quarterback controversies. Do we have a catcher controversy? First baseman controversy? Too many good players, what a problem to have.

    edit: Leo had better pitchers.

  20. I’d still take Leo. Yeah, he had the big 3, but he also spun straw into gold with the likes of John Burkett, Jaret Wright, etc.

  21. I think Leo was great. He took Glavine, Smoltz and Avery and helped make them great. McDowell has built awesome bullpens, much better than Leo, and has made average starters look good. I think it is a tough call.

    @34

    This is the real issue

  22. @27-

    That was a fail edit on my part. I seem to have replaced the wrong character with a “7” in that post. :-D

  23. OK, as an armchair pitching coach, I wondered aloud if pitchers would try to get Gattis out by throwing fastballs up and in.

    After what I saw Oso Grande do to that pitch (96 and waaay up and waaay in!), I’m not sure I’d ever throw him anything but bouncing curveballs. If he walks, he walks.

    I’m still not sure it’s physically possible to do what he did to that pitch.

    Maybe Bonds (but Bonds wouldn’t have swung at it) or Clemente, but I really think the only other player I’ve ever seen do that was Hank. (No, I’m not quite that old, but I made a study of Hank Aaron’s film clips – there’s some amazing stuff there, btw – hence, my screen name.)

  24. Who’s going to back up Gattis at the All-Star Game?

    Don’t you mean Yadier Molina? The Cardinals fans usually spam him into the starter’s role in the All-Star Game.

    Remember 2010? McCann was hitting great, an OPS over .800 going into that year’s All-Star Game, but Molina and his .595 OPS was voted to be the NL’s starting catcher.

  25. Right now Gerald Laird is hitting .333 with a .929 OPS. If he continues at that pace, maybe he should be the back up All Star catcher. Of course the chances of that continuing are right up there with Jeff Francouer winning the batting title.

  26. #40
    That HR was outrageous. But if Gattis has weaknesses, MLB pitchers/coaches will find them. Of course, executing the pitches is another story.

  27. @28 I don’t understand why folks keep saying that here. On the video you can quite clearly see it hit the green strip above the scoreboard, which by the park’s ground rules is in play.

  28. Grst – looks like it bounces off the rail after hitting the top of the wall (the green strip).

  29. Mavery, just returned to Indiana from DC today. My son (Nat fan) and I were in Section 114 row D on Sunday. I was the old guy with the white Chipper jersey a few rows in front of you. Lots of great Braves fans in that area on Saturday and Sunday what a blast to witness the sweep.

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