The Braves are not the only team getting hit by the injury bug. Ryan Zimmerman, who already has an arthritic shoulder, fractured his thumb while trying to slide to avoid a pickoff tag. He was out then, and now he’ll be out for another 4-6 weeks. Along with concussed center fielder Denard Span and catcher Wilson Ramos’s broken hamate bone, this is the third major injury to a major piece of their lineup.
(Also in the “oh no poor Nationals” file: They may have gotten screwed on at least three different calls last night. In the second inning, Angel Hernandez called Nate McLouth out on a sac bunt, and Matt Williams challenged. TV replays showed that he may probably arrived at the same time as the ball. But they didn’t overturn the call, so Williams was out of challenges — which cost him when Adam LaRoche caught a liner on the fly but the ump thought it hit the ground, so the Nats couldn’t double Heyward off of first base. Later, when Nate McLouth caught a ball then lost control of it while transferring it to his throwing hand, Angel Hernandez ruled it was no catch, and Williams couldn’t challenge that either. Angel makes tons of terrible calls, and will continue to do so in the era of video replay challenges. Fortunately, they went for us last night.)
In the meantime, the rest of the ballgame didn’t go well for the Nats. Alex Wood didn’t have much on his fastball and he was getting squeezed by home plate ump Larry Vanover all night. Take a look at this zone, and just look at how many green dots there are at the edges of the strike zone.
But Wood didn’t make it easier on himself, either. He gave up a leadoff home run to Anthony Rendon, the only run he would allow, but in every subsequent inning he allowed multiple baserunners. Fortunately, his breaking ball was working, and he went to it every time he needed to get out of a jam and usually managed to get a swinging strikeout — in five innings, he had eight strikeouts and three (umpire-assisted) walks. After the fifth inning, he was at 103 pitches, and that was that.
Fortunately, the bats woke up. Taylor Jordan is a fifth starter whose sinker had no sink last night. So he basically had two pitches, a decent changeup and a hanging fastball. The Braves probably should have tagged him a lot harder than they did. But they put up four runs on him in the first inning after Rendon’s homer, and that provided the entire margin of victory.
As it was, B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla both had two hits and Freddie Freeman, Justin Upton, and Evan Gattis all had three hits. Justin is heating up, and B.J. and Dan hit the ball hard. Heyward, Regression, and Simmons all went ohfer, but I’m not overly worried about that. It’s more important to get the Uptons going.
The last game is today at 1:30 and this will be the game thread for that one. We’ve already won the series, but it would be nice to break out the brooms. We’re currently tied with the Nats for the best record in the East, at 7-4 apiece, and it would be nice to break the tie and kick ’em into second place where they belong.