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Game 133: Braves at Nats

Sep 3, 2015, 3:34 PM EDT

Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER

The last three nights presented perhaps the Nationals’ toughest test the rest of the season: a road series in St. Louis against the best team in baseball. As frustrating as that series proved to be, they emerged with one win. Which, to be honest, is probably what most would have expected going into it. Now, they begin the final 30 games of the season, with a far more favorable schedule: Every opponent they face the rest of the way has a losing record, except for the Mets.

It begins tonight with the first of four against the reeling Braves, who have lost 15 of their last 16, falling into fourth place in the NL East. They’ve lost nine straight road games, 13 of their last 15 away from home. Yikes.

We’re still waiting for a lineup, with the Nationals trying to find out if Bryce Harper and Michael Taylor are ready to return. Stay tuned for that. Meanwhile, Jordan Zimmermann gets the ball, coming off a strong start against the Marlins and four strong starts against the Braves this season (2-0, 1.88 ERA). Rookie Matt Wisler (5-5, 5.22 ERA) takes the mound for Atlanta.

[UPDATE: Harper is in the lineup, Taylor is not.]

Plenty of updates to come live from the park, so please check back…

Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, XM 183/869
Weather: Partly cloudy, 87 degrees, Wind 4 mph out to LF

RF Jayson Werth
2B Anthony Rendon
CF Bryce Harper
1B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Clint Robinson
3B Yunel Escobar
SS Ian Desmond
C Wilson Ramos
RHP Jordan Zimmermann

BRAVES (54-79)
RF Nick Markakis
CF Cameron Maybin
1B Freddie Freeman
C A.J. Pierzynski
LF Nick Swisher
2B Jace Peterson
3B Hector Olivera
SS Andrelton Simmons
RHP Matt Wisler

HP Clint Fagan
1B Paul Emmel
2B Jerry Meals (cc)
3B Andy Fletcher

7:05 p.m. — And we’re underway on a muggy Thursday night in the District with ball one from Jordan Zimmermann to Nick Markakis.

7:21 p.m. — The top of the first featured a rarity: Two walks issued by Zimmermann, who entered tonight with only 29 free passes on the season. He got out of it, though, when A.J. Pierzysnki hit a soft liner to second and Anthony Rendon was able to double up Markakis. That set the stage for the Nats to do some damage in the bottom of the first, which they did, all with 2 outs. Bryce Harper drew his customary walk, after which the crowd greeted Ryan Zimmerman with a loud, prolonged standing ovation the night after he launched career homer No. 200. And Zim thanked them by nearly hitting No. 201 on the very first pitch, settling instead for a double off the wall in right-center. No matter, because Clint Robinson lined a 2-run single to left-center, giving the Nats a 2-0 lead after one.

7:57 p.m. — Wow, the rout is on. The Braves scored a run in the top of the second (via a walk, a balk, a wild pitch and a groundout) but the Nats came right back and scored five in the bottom of the inning, sending 10 men to the plate and knocking Matt Wisler from the game and bringing in the one and only Sugar Ray Marimon out of the Atlanta pen. Big at-bats from Desmond (double), Ramos (RBI double), Harper (bases-loaded walk), Zimmerman (sac fly for his 20th RBI in 10-plus games) and Escobar (2-run single). It’s 7-1 Nats after only two innings.

8:25 p.m. — Good lord, it’s 10-1 Nats after three. The Braves have used four pitchers already. The Nats have had five at-bats with the bases loaded. Harper has walked three times and scored three times. Zimmerman has three RBI, giving him 22 in his last 10-plus games and an incredible 70 in only 91-plus games this season. It’s all going the Nats’ way tonight. Boy did they need this.

8:40 p.m. — Stop the presses! The Nats didn’t score in the fourth inning! They did hit the ball hard, though. Still 10-1 heading to the fifth. Chase is going to take over the game thread so I can get an early start on the Instant Analysis for a change.

Chase here taking over for Mark while he writes his game story

9:05 p.m. — So. Many. Runs. The Nationals added two more in the fifth to make it a 12-1 game. The scores – which were both against former Nats pitcher Ross Detwiler – came on a Zimmerman RBI double and a Ramos sac fly to score Zim. Zimmerman now has four RBI on the night and 71 on the season through 92 games. This guy just can’t be stopped.

9:30 p.m. — The runs just keep on coming. The Nats pushed two more across in the sixth to make it 14-1. Robinson brought home Tyler Moore – who pinch-hit for Werth – on a sac fly. Escobar then singled home Rendon. Harper was also removed for den Dekker and Espinosa pinch-hit for Zimmerman.

9:46 p.m. — No runs to report on in the seventh inning. It’s still 14-1. But we did see Trea Turner get his first MLB hit. He smacked a groundball to Peterson at second base and beat the throw barely to first base. The ball was also dropped by Freeman.

9:59 p.m. — The Nats put another one on the board in the eighth on a solo homer by Espinosa. It was his Espinosa’s 13th homer of the season. It’s now 15-1.

10:07 p.m. — It’s finally over. Nats win 15-1. 14 runs is the largest margin of victory in Nationals team history.

  1. Eugene in Oregon - Sep 3, 2015 at 3:45 PM

    Well, I missed both the Tuesday and Wednesday games while traveling. From what I can tell, missing Tuesday’s was a bonus. But missing Ryan Zimmerman’s 199th and 200th HRs was disappointing.

    Thirty games to go, huh? Best I can offer is GYFNG!

  2. langleyclub - Sep 3, 2015 at 4:08 PM

    Not a good sign that Taylor is out again. Is his knee injury more serious than initially diagnosed?

    • bowdenball - Sep 3, 2015 at 4:14 PM

      Might just be playing it conservatively with a righty starter for Atlanta, chance to get Robinson a start.

      Whatever the reason, though, today’s starters might be the worst defensive lineup the Nationals have ever put on the field, including those miserable 2006-2010 teams. I would say they’re below average at every position, in some cases significantly so. Hopefully JZimm doesn’t need much help getting outs tonight!

      • Dave - Sep 3, 2015 at 4:18 PM

        Do we know yet (as of 4:18 PM) who is in the lineup? I don’t see one posted.

      • bowdenball - Sep 3, 2015 at 4:46 PM

        Werth RF
        Rendon 2B
        Harper CF
        Zim 1B
        Robinson LF
        Escobar 3B
        Desmond SS
        Ramos C
        JZimm P

        I suppose the counter to my previous post would be that while they’re average or worse at every single position they’re really only terrible at two, and they’re the two least important defensive positions. Everywhere else they’re at least close to average.

        That really is a dreadful defensive OF, though, especially if Harper is slowed at all by his tuchus problems.

      • therealjohnc - Sep 3, 2015 at 4:46 PM

        Places where the Nats’ defensively are at least average, likely better: C (Ramos is much better defensively than he gets credit for around here); 1b; 2b; SS (no, seriously: Desmond has made two errors in his last 42 games – I’ll take that from any SS). It’s arguable that they are also that good in CF – Harper’s career defensive number in CF are very good, and his numbers in RF have been good this year as well.

        OK, I’ll give you that 3b and the corner OF spots are problems. But the Nats have put up far worse defenses over the years than this.

      • therealjohnc - Sep 3, 2015 at 4:47 PM

        AUGH! My reply to bb was ninja’d by … bb!

      • bowdenball - Sep 3, 2015 at 4:55 PM

        Yeah I thought about Harper being above average, therealjohnc. He’s certainly an above-average outfielder generally. Just not sure about CF. 2012 was a long time ago and he doesn’t have much experience there, plus the current crop of CFs are just outstanding defensively. Same deal with Rendon- he’s definitely a defensive asset generally speaking, but middle infield defenders these days are so incredible that I’m not sure he’s above average at that particular position. Certainly at 3B he’d be above average.

        I don’t have a real problem with their defense, or with Ramos or Zim or even Desmond these days, just not sure any qualify as above average for MLB starters.

        Anyway, just meant it as an interesting observation, not a complaint. What this lineup lacks on the defensive side its certainly makes up for at the plate.

      • Section 222 - Sep 3, 2015 at 5:20 PM

        Any lineup that had Adam Dunn at 1B or, especially LF, was worse than this. 🙂

  3. micksback1 - Sep 3, 2015 at 4:16 PM

    I felt and posted a week ago that the Nats must be 5 games or less out of first going into the Mets series. it is still possible. I believe if this is down to 4 going into the first game with Mets, they the Mets may choke.

    But, it is time for the veterans to man up and take the game to another level, that is what separates Champs from Chumps.

    • coop202 - Sep 3, 2015 at 4:25 PM

      I’ll hold onto hope until we’re really out, but man I feel like this ends within 3 games and the losing side of that would sting a ton…

      • adcwonk - Sep 3, 2015 at 4:35 PM

        ends within three games? Not so fast! Nats were in each game in St.L, the best team in the NL. Now they are playing a team that’s tied (with the Phils) for being the worst, and we have JZ starting us off.

      • coop202 - Sep 3, 2015 at 4:42 PM

        Just mean that we end up somewhere between 3 +/- the mets final record. Optimism will spring until we’re done

    • adcwonk - Sep 3, 2015 at 4:27 PM

      Werth, RZ, Rendon, Harper have all been hitting over .300 recently. The veteran bats are, indeed, manning up.

      • micksback1 - Sep 3, 2015 at 4:29 PM

        you are right wonk and in fact it the pitching which has failed. Think about it, if you were told back in the Spring that the Nats would score 5 runs per game in all 3 verse Cards, you would assume at least a series win

      • adcwonk - Sep 3, 2015 at 4:31 PM

        Yep — well put.

  4. natsjackinfl - Sep 3, 2015 at 4:32 PM

    I see that Bryce is in the lineup tonight according to MLB Network. His glute problem must have stemmed from the butt chewing he probably received for not even getting 10 feet out of the batters box.

    • adcwonk - Sep 3, 2015 at 4:42 PM

      Cute! 😉

      But, actually, I had assumed (and perhaps I am wrong) that he hurt it on that swing (or during that at bat) which is why he didn’t move much out of the batters box.

      • adcwonk - Sep 3, 2015 at 4:44 PM

        (Unless you were being serious and he got yanked for that. Here’s a completely unfounded theory: Rendon was lollygagging — and Knight called him out on it — on that hit that ended up being a double. What if MW saw that and said, “next person who does that is getting yanked”, and then Bryce . . .

        But do I even have the chronology right?

        And, again, did Bryce hurt it during the at bat?

        Nobody will tell — which, imho, is a good thing)

      • therealjohnc - Sep 3, 2015 at 4:50 PM

        Whatever the MLB Network says, Mark has Harper in the lineup.

        And apparently the glute has been tight before. There really is no reason other than pure rabble rousing to assume to try to make this a “thing” between MW and Harper.

      • adcwonk - Sep 3, 2015 at 4:58 PM

        Yep — I shouldn’t even have mentioned it.

        That’s how bad rumors start.

        I take it back, I take it back!!

    • Joe Seamhead - Sep 3, 2015 at 4:53 PM

      I thought Harper hurt himself the night before last when beating out an IF hit and he tripped after he crossed the bag.

      • adcwonk - Sep 3, 2015 at 5:53 PM

        Oh yeah, I remember that play!

  5. hitmeimopen - Sep 3, 2015 at 4:33 PM

    Their chances to reach the postseason are nil, but it is this very headline that gets into the team’s psyche. The minute that they think a series (or game, for that matter) is going to be “softer”, they underperform. The difference in strength between all the teams in MLB is so miniscule that taking their foot off the gas is more than enough to guarantee failure. The Cards, on the other hand, approach every game the same way – full speed ahead – and they don’t EVER talk about how “soft” an opponent might be.

    • adcwonk - Sep 3, 2015 at 4:41 PM

      The Cards, on the other hand, approach every game the same way – full speed ahead – and they don’t EVER talk about how “soft” an opponent might be.

      Are you sure? Wacha was going to pitch against the Nats, and they decided to hold him back for the Pirates.

      Fact is, the Cards are at or near the top, and the Braves are at or near the bottom. (And, alas, we seem to be halfway between sometimes).

      But you’re right in that teams near the bottom win series (sometimes sweeps) of the top teams with a lot of frequency. Nobody’s “soft”.

      • bowdenball - Sep 3, 2015 at 4:49 PM

        Seriously, he couldn’t possibly have picked a worse time to make that point and to use the Cards as a counterexample.

        Matheny even said that if they’d lost one of the first two games of the series Wacha may have pitched yesterday. They clearly do not approach every game full speed ahead.

  6. natsjackinfl - Sep 3, 2015 at 4:41 PM

    I’m still holding out on playoff assessment until a week from this Sunday.

    The Nats have to play their best baseball until then including 3 at home against the Mets starting Monday.

    After next Sundays game against the Marlins, if the Nats can be under 4 games back, there will be 13 games left including the season ending series in New York. Things will be fun.

    Until then, GYFNG!

    • micksback1 - Sep 3, 2015 at 4:43 PM

      yup and if that is the case, I think the Mets will fold

      • adcwonk - Sep 3, 2015 at 4:46 PM

        They’ve done it before!

  7. adcwonk - Sep 3, 2015 at 4:45 PM

    I’ll be in sec 312 with the lovely Mrs Wonk wearing her cute Pink Nats hat.

    As we hope to be there early (to get a set of dolls) we’ll try to stop by the picnic tables to say “hey” if anyone wants to join us. Around 6:45 for a few minutes.

    • micksback1 - Sep 3, 2015 at 4:49 PM

      one day wonk

      it is not my turn to go tonight

    • Section 222 - Sep 3, 2015 at 5:35 PM

      I’ll look for you wonk. Should be there by then.

      Don’t get too excited by the dolls. They are *tiny*.

  8. Karl Kolchak - Sep 3, 2015 at 5:43 PM

    Just picked up my nesting doll–but no golden ticket. They are indeed tiny.

    • adcwonk - Sep 3, 2015 at 5:55 PM

      Come by the picnic tables at 6:45!

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 3, 2015 at 5:56 PM

      I purposely didn’t go tonight… Becuz I don’t want that… lol, those things scare me.

  9. Eugene in Oregon - Sep 3, 2015 at 7:08 PM

    Anyone else having trouble with their AtBat app and/or subscription? I’m getting ‘unexpected error’ on one and ‘authorization failed’ on the other.

  10. Drew - Sep 3, 2015 at 7:20 PM

    Yeah, baby. GYFNG!!!

  11. Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 3, 2015 at 7:24 PM

    What is going on wit this SZ!?!?!?

  12. knoxvillenat - Sep 3, 2015 at 7:31 PM

    Jordan dies not appear to be very focused on his pitching tonight.

    • veejh - Sep 3, 2015 at 8:02 PM

      It doesn’t matter now!

  13. scnatsfan - Sep 3, 2015 at 7:43 PM

    Is there a layer in MLB who hustles less then Ramos? With 2 more catchers he needs to sit next inning. Laziness infects a whole team.

    • natslive - Sep 3, 2015 at 8:02 PM

      Yeah he doesn’t seem to hustle much…if that throw gets away he still would have been out

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 3, 2015 at 9:20 PM

      To be fair, he has standing orders to not pull anything.

      Which doesn’t happen when you stand there watching a fly ball off the wall.

      Not that I’m still pissed, or anything.

  14. Drew - Sep 3, 2015 at 7:48 PM

    FOF with another RBI.

  15. natslive - Sep 3, 2015 at 7:59 PM

    Big inning now need JZ to focus and shut down the Zbraves this inning

  16. natslive - Sep 3, 2015 at 8:05 PM

    Anyone else tired of the MLB commercial with Showater?

  17. veejh - Sep 3, 2015 at 8:11 PM

    This team needed a laugher.

  18. Drew - Sep 3, 2015 at 8:21 PM

    70 RBIs in 92 games for Zim.
    And how valuable is Clint?

  19. Joe Seamhead - Sep 3, 2015 at 8:25 PM

    Ok, we’re at the park. This is kind of fun.

    • Joe Seamhead - Sep 3, 2015 at 8:29 PM

      10 runs on 11 hits. No home runs. Gotta love it!

  20. Drew - Sep 3, 2015 at 8:31 PM

    The big lead feels good, but remember The Chief is in the nesting doll.

    Some of us remember a game with San Diego in September 2005 when the Nats went into the 9th up 5-0.

    The Chief gave up a game-tying salami to Khalil Greene and the Nats lost.

    Just sayin’

    • Drew - Sep 3, 2015 at 8:32 PM

      Just sayin’ keep your foot on the gas.


  21. Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 3, 2015 at 8:53 PM

    Wow Ryan…. wow

  22. philipd763 - Sep 3, 2015 at 9:54 PM

    Braves president John Hart has been a human wrecking ball as he “remakes” the roster. It worked for the Astros but it is a big gamble.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 3, 2015 at 11:21 PM

      Better than the Padres. Now THAT’s a wrecking ball.





As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...

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TUE: 2:30 p.m.
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