Monday’s come from behind victory was thrilling and memorable, but as a recipe for repeated victories it leaves something to be desired. It turns out that running the LOB total into double digits and entering the ninth inning down by three runs doesn’t always work out for the best in the end.
Tuesday night’s game did start out a lot like Monday’s. The Braves stranded five baserunners in first two innings. You may recall that they stranded 13 on Monday before the two ninth inning bombs, so they were on pace to top that. In the first, double, single, and double from Swanson, Freeman, and d’Arnaud got the Braves a run, but a shallow fly from the Mime and K’s from Adams and Duvall allowed the Nats to escape having yielded only that one run. The Braves then left the bases loaded without scoring in the second.
The starting pitching, on the other hand, could not have been more different than Monday. Last night, Touki walked six and hit a batter in three innings; he threw 73 pitches and only 34 were strikes. He only gave up two hits but both left the yard. Tuesday, Josh Tomlin got his first start of the season. After watching Toussaint and Wright lately, we all needed to see someone who knew where his pitches were going. Tomlin did just what you would expect. He went four innings, tossing 51 pitches, only 15 of which were balls. He did give up six hits and two runs, but that’s going to happen with a guy like Josh on the mound. Four innings and two runs is a quality start for the 2020 Braves.
Tomlin left the game with a lead, because the Braves started driving in some of those baserunners. Riley scorched a two rbi single to left in the third, and Freddie hit a long two run homer to the chophouse in the fourth.
Tyler Matzek came on to start the 5th. At first I thought they might try to get another inning out of Tomlin since he had only thrown 51 pitches. But that was more pitches than he had tossed in a game this year and the top of the order was coming up for the third time. With Eaton and Soto due up, it made sense to go to the lefty.
Hindsight is 20/20, but that decision didn’t turn out so well. Seven batters into the inning, Matzek had given up six hits and three runs and the bases were loaded. A.J. Minter came on to allow a run on a groundout but otherwise got out of the jam. But now it is 6-4 Nats.
Still, the Braves chances aren’t so bad, training by two in the middle of the fifth. They do have the deep bullpen, the bats have been coming alive, and you just expect them to score runs in the late innings. Turns out the Nationals’ bullpen pitched five shutout innings, Greene and Melancon gave up a run each in the 8th and 9th, and the final was 8-5.
The big off the field news of the day was that Christian Pache was called up and that Nick Markakis had to go to the IL due to possible covid exposure. The good news is that he tested negative; the bad news is we could all of a sudden be the Cardinals. Yikes—I prefer not to dwell on that possibility.
I’d prefer to be excited about seeing Pache in centerfield. He didn’t make an appearance on Tuesday because he arrived at the park shortly before game time, but I’m pretty sure he will start Wednesday, and hopefully most games going forward. For one thing, I hope never to see Ozuna in the field again. He reminds me of Matt Kemp out there. For another, we all know that Inciarte has been terrible offensively and his defense has slipped as well.
Speaking of Ender, Pache must have gotten to the park in time for Ender to feel someone’s breath on the back of his neck. Ender went three for three with a walk. I don’t think this one good night at the plate will save his starting job, but he is not going anywhere. He’ll remain on the big league club the rest of this year and next in all likelihood.
Austin Riley, though, has been in serious danger of going to Gwinnett. But perhaps he also felt the push of a possible roster move, because he had his best offensive game in a good while. In addition to the two run single, he was robbed of a home run on a leaping catch by Robles. I do think Riley has earned a little more rope.
Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, this crazy season continues on Wednesday with the rubber game against the Natspos. Somebody not named Scherzer, Strasburg, or Corbin starts for Washington. No reason you shouldn’t take the series when you don’t face any of them. On the other hand, Kyle Wright is on the mound for our Braves. Let’s hope he was taking notes during the recent starts by Erlin and Tomlin. Throwing more strikes than balls is a good plan.