I wrote a couple of weeks ago about my dislike of the Dodgers. Itâ€™s true that Iâ€™m no fan of the Dodgers, but what was I thinking? Of course the gNats are the worst!
The only way this team can beat the Braves is to injure our starting pitcher and knock him out of the game after two innings. That formula worked sufficiently for the Natspos to salvage a split of the four game series this week.
In todayâ€™s game, Markakis got the Braves off to a good start with a long homer in the top of the second. Anibal Sanchez appeared to be his usual good self in the first couple of innings, but was struck on the calf by a sharp liner in the second inning, which ended his outing. Wes Parsons, making his first major league appearance, was summoned to replace him to begin the third. Youâ€™ve got to hand it to the Nats; they know a winning formula when theyâ€™ve found one. So, they promptly hit a sharp liner off Parsonsâ€™ ankle. He shook that off enough to stay in the game, but he had a very wobbly inning. He walked in a run and allowed another on a sac fly that looked for all the world like it was going to be a grand slam. Whether his shakiness was due the sore ankle or just first game jitters, Parsons did settle down somewhat. He would go on to make a game effort, surrendering 4 runs over five innings.
The biggest problem was the Bravesâ€™ inability to do anything with Gio Gonzalez. After Neckâ€™s second inning dinger, the Braves did not dent the scoreboard off Gio. Once the Gnats turned to their pen, Young Ronald hit another homer in the eighth (Soto is great, but I like our kid). A ninth inning rally gained one more run, but by that time the Nats had scored two more in the bottom of the eighth off yet another hurler making his big league debut, Adam McCreery, so the ninth inning rally only got the Braves within three.
We could grumble that Snit threw in the towel by choosing McCreery when the game was still in doubt. I guess the argument is that with 48 games in 48 days, Snit has to be careful to preserve his best bullpen arms. We could also grumble that the Braves missed a chance to send Washington even further behind. But the Braves in these four games did keep the Nats from gaining any ground. And after losing the first game on Tuesday, and with Scherzer looming on Tuesday night, a split is not too bad at all.
So where do the Braves stand, you ask? As we head to the middle of August they are in the thick of a pennant race. One back of the Phillies in the East, still 4 and a half up on the Nationals, and still ahead by one half game for the second wild card. More importantly, look at it this way: the Phillies, Braves, Brewers, Snakes, and Dodgers are separated by just a game and a half, with the Cubs just two games ahead of that pack. There are five playoff spots for those six teams. Of course those arenâ€™t the only contenders for those five spots. Four more teams are within four and a half games of the last wild card spot.
The point is (did I mention this before?), the Braves are in the middle of a pennant race! More fun than weâ€™ve seen in many a year in Braves country. Very big series this weekend at home against Milwaukee, but then again, when youâ€™re in a pennant race, they are all big. Letâ€™s enjoy itâ€”and letâ€™s bury Bud Seligâ€™s old team.