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Game 135: Braves at Nats

Sep 5, 2015, 3:33 PM EDT

Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER

It’s a nice, warm Saturday here at Nationals Park, where everybody seems to have a little extra giddy-up in their step today. Must be carryover from last night’s dramatic win over the Braves. (Or perhaps Northwestern’s upset of Stanford earlier today. OK, that’s only why I have a lot of extra giddy-up in my step.)

The Nats look to make it three in a row, and extend Atlanta’s losing streak to 11 games, when Gio Gonzalez takes the mound this evening against Shelby Miller, possibly the hardest-luck pitcher in baseball history. Despite a 2.56 ERA overall, the young right-hander owns a stunning 5-12 record. He hasn’t won any of his last 19 starts even though he has a 3.13 ERA during that time. Amazing.

Michael Taylor, last night’s hero, remains on the bench today, letting that sore knee continue to rest. Obviously he’ll be available again if needed to hit late. Wilson Ramos is back behind the plate, but that means he’ll be catching Gonzalez (a pairing that hasn’t worked out great this season).

Updates to come…

Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, XM 183/869
Weather: Partly cloudy, 80 degrees, Wind 7 mph in from RF

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

BRAVES (54-80)
RF Nick Markakis
2B Pedro Ciriaco
1B Freddie Freeman
LF Nick Swisher
CF Cameron Maybin
SS Andrelton Simmons
3B Hector Olivera
C Christian Bethancourt
RHP Shelby Miller

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

7:05 p.m. — We are underway and we already have an out recorded. Nick Markakis sent a lazy foul ball to left field on Gio Gonzalez’s first pitch, and Clint Robinson caught it right next to the railing down the line.

7:20 p.m. — Gonzalez got himself into some trouble in the top of the first, issuing back-to-back walks to Pedro Ciriaco and Freddie Freeman. He appeared to get out of it when Nick Swisher grounded to third, but Yunel Escobar (after stepping on the bag) threw wide of first base. No matter, because Gonzalez then got Cameron Maybin to ground to the hole at short, with Ian Desmond throwing a bullet across the diamond to get him by a step. The Nats, meanwhile, went down in order in the bottom of the first, with Shelby Miller striking out Bryce Harper on three pitches, capped by a 97-mph high fastball. Scoreless after one.

7:32 p.m. — Nothing doing for the Nats through two innings against Miller. Escobar did scorch a ball the other way, but Freeman made a nice play on it for the final out of that inning. Gonzalez also tossed a 1-2-3 second, so we move to the third.

7:59 p.m. — Wow, what a bottom of the third for the Nats. The Braves threw them a couple of bones, most notably when Maybin lost Desmond’s routine flyball to medium center field in the dusk for a gift double. Desmond later scored on a wild pitch from Miller, though catcher Christian Bethancourt didn’t make a great stab at it, either. That kept the inning alive and set the stage for Werth’s ground-rule double, Rendon’s RBI single and then a phenomenal at-bat from Harper, who fouled off four 2-strike pitches from Miller before launching a 3-2 cutter at the knees into the Red Porch for his 33rd homer of the season. Just like that, the Nats lead 4-0 after three.

8:20 p.m. — Oh my lord, the 2015 Atlanta Braves are a mess. The Nats just scored two more runs in the bottom of the fourth on a ball that traveled about 5 feet from the plate. Somehow, both Robinson and Desmond scored on that play, with Bethancourt mostly responsible for the goat rodeo that ensued after he picked up the ball. It’s 6-0 Nats as we go to the fifth, with Gonzalez having yet to surrender a hit.

8:42 p.m. — Make it 7-0 after Harper doubled to right-center — he has now reached base in 16 of his last 21 plate appearances — and scored on another RBI single by Zimmerman. Harper now has scored 100 runs for the first time in his career. Gio, meanwhile, is through five hitless innings, having struck out eight. His pitch count is a bit high, though, at 76.

Chase here taking over while Mark works on his game story

9:12 p.m. — It is still 7-0 after six as Gio worked his way out of a bases-loaded jam to keep the Braves off the board. He gave up a leadoff single to Markakis and a two-out single to Swisher before walking Bourn to put three men on. Simmons, however, then grounded into a forceout at second to end the frame. Gio was replaced in the bottom half of the inning by Dan Uggla, who pinch-hit and flew out to left field. On to the seventh now where Casey Janssen will come in to pitch.

9:34 p.m. — Another run for the Nationals made it 8-0 as once again Ross Detwiler struggled in mop-up duty. He gave up a single to Rendon, a double to Harper and then a run on a groundout by Zim. Ryan Kelly was brought in to get the third out. On to the eighth.

10:04 p.m. — The Braves got two runs in the eighth inning off Matt Grace, though both went down as unearned. That was because Markakis scored the first one after reaching on an error by Trea Turner at second base. He came home on a double by Swisher. Swisher then scored on a sac fly by Michael Bourn. It’s 8-2 Nats with the ninth up next.

10:13 p.m. — Nats beat the Braves 8-2, move to 70-65 on the season. They are 5 games over .500 for the first time since Aug. 10.

  1. natsjackinfl - Sep 5, 2015 at 3:41 PM

    Shelby Miller is one tough cookie. I hope the Nats can get him early because if not, he may pitch a complete game.

    Gio needs to be lights out tonight.

  2. philipd763 - Sep 5, 2015 at 3:44 PM

    If Gio works better with Loby, why didn’t Williams use Ramos last night and Loby tonight? Gio is a high strung guy and Loby knows how to settle him down when he goes hyper.

    • Section 222 - Sep 5, 2015 at 3:58 PM

      Maybe you weren’t paying attention last night. Lobi has a very good history against Teheran.

      • NatsLady - Sep 5, 2015 at 5:05 PM

        I saw that. Not a believer, even though he was something like 7-for-13 with two homers against Teheran before last night. He had an 0-fer (with a walk) which brings his line to .197/.288/.299. The sample size of batter v hitter is too small, and managers need to learn this.

      • Section 222 - Sep 5, 2015 at 5:07 PM

        I don’t think there’s anything wrong with playing those percentages. Espi “owned” Cliff Lee for awhile, though it was always as small sample size. But with Gio starting the next day, and Ramos being hot recently, if Lobi was only going to get one start, it should probably have been tonight.

    • Section 222 - Sep 5, 2015 at 4:03 PM

      Of course, that doesn’t answer the question, “why not use Lobi again today?” I suppose the answer is that Ramos has been hot recently, though his AB last night in the 9th was pretty pathetic. I’m with you — keeping Gio calm and giving him the best chance to pitch well is more important than Ramos’s bat. We’ll see how it works out.

      • Karl Kolchak - Sep 5, 2015 at 5:15 PM

        That’s the key point–but once again Williams refuses to show ANY flexibility. “Thou shalt start thy back up catcher only once a week no matter what” appears to be yet another stupid unbreakable MW commandment.

      • NatsLady - Sep 5, 2015 at 5:54 PM

        He has started Lobaton more than once a week, most recently August 14 and 15 against the Giants. I wouldn’t have started him last night, but that’s under the bridge. There are only so many times I want to start a .197 hitter.

  3. Section 222 - Sep 5, 2015 at 3:59 PM

    Gio has his work cut out for him tonight if there’s no one playing CF.

  4. Doc - Sep 5, 2015 at 4:31 PM

    Two LF’s to-night!

    My advice to the Braveless, try to hit it to CF.

  5. NatsLady - Sep 5, 2015 at 4:59 PM

    So I listened to the replay of last night’s Mets game. I started at the 7th inning but that’s where Mets fans started whining about Collin’s (mis)managing.

    Anyway, some interesting nuggets. Wilmer Flores went to Venezuela for a day to see an ailing relative. His flight got in at 6:00 p.m., and as soon as he got to the park he was inserted into the game mid-stream. He had one PA and walked.

    When the time came for pinch hitters, the Marlins announcers said Cuddyer and Murphy are both hurt. There is no DL in September so hard I had to look it up to see what’s the story.

    David Wright went 0-5, striking out with the bases loaded. Mets fans are not so happy with their non-clutch captain. So I checked that too. In nine games since his return, he has 11 hits, but they include one homer (that first one), one double, and one RBI. And three GIDP. His WPA is -0.648, meaning he’s cost them more than half a game (doesn’t include defense).

    • natsjackinfl - Sep 5, 2015 at 5:05 PM

      All great points, NL. I follow a lot of Mets stuff and the fan base is extremely concerned about the big 3 young starters, the horrible middle relief situation and the shoddy defense that gets in the lineup on almost a daily basis. You would never know they had a 5 game lead.

      • NatsLady - Sep 5, 2015 at 5:14 PM

        Yeah, they got the bad Addison Reed last night. O’Flaherty seems cooked. Clip was good, and in a tie game on the road of course they didn’t use Familia. 😉

    • NatsLady - Sep 5, 2015 at 5:11 PM

      Sorry about the typos. And now there’s this.

      • NatsLady - Sep 5, 2015 at 5:17 PM

        I’d say my timeline is exploding, but I unfollowed a lot of Mets fans. Still getting a lot from the beat writers and analysts, who are LIVID. Anyone who thought this was Boras and not Harvey is now disabused of the notion.

      • natsjackinfl - Sep 5, 2015 at 5:25 PM

        Only in New York. Young Mr. Harvey may soon become an evil being in that fair city.

      • Karl Kolchak - Sep 5, 2015 at 5:28 PM

        Say this for Strasburg–he was visibly upset about being shut down in 2012.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 5, 2015 at 8:44 PM

        “Be careful what metaphor you pick.” I’ve always said so.

        He wants to be the Dark Knight … did he see the movie? Batman winds up the bad guy.

    • knoxvillenat - Sep 5, 2015 at 7:01 PM

      So I listened to the replay of last night’s Mets game. I started at the 7th inning but that’s where Mets fans started whining about Collin’s (mis)managing.

      I was wondering if Met fans were complaining about Collins letting the lefty (O’Flaheraty I think) in to face Prado?

      • NatsLady - Sep 5, 2015 at 8:39 PM

        Yes, among other things. Of course, they’ve forgotten about that now with Harvey controversy and Bartolo Colon throwing more shut out innings.

      • knoxvillenat - Sep 5, 2015 at 8:46 PM

        Colon throwing more shutout innings……I think someone needs to be drug tested. I have no idea how he is doing it at his age.

      • Joe Seamhead - Sep 5, 2015 at 8:55 PM

        And Brad Hand gave up 7 runs, 3homers, in less than 2 innings pitched.

      • Section 222 - Sep 6, 2015 at 12:16 AM

        Did you guys see that play with Bartolo throwing to first behind his back. How can you not love that guy?

  6. Karl Kolchak - Sep 5, 2015 at 5:26 PM

    The Nats need to ignore what the Mets are doing and just go out and take care of business these next two days. Being five out with six games remaining against the team in front of them means they control their own destiny and should not let themselves get distracted with too much scoreboard watching.

    • natsjackinfl - Sep 5, 2015 at 5:37 PM

      And the Nats aren’t paying attention.

      We on the other hand, find it amusing.

  7. tcostant - Sep 5, 2015 at 5:31 PM

    Are we playing two left fielders?

  8. Met fan - Sep 5, 2015 at 6:03 PM

    Who do you guys want harvey for you should see our blogs he is public enemy #1 right now and will be boo’d in citi

    • Joe Seamhead - Sep 5, 2015 at 6:09 PM

      Damn “Report Comment” button and the iPad! Sorry, I just hit it by mistake.

      • Met fan - Sep 5, 2015 at 6:27 PM

        I often go on the nl east teams blogs for information on one of their prospects ot something because I’m curious not a troll and didn’t mean to come off as one

      • NatsLady - Sep 5, 2015 at 6:46 PM

        @Met fan, have seen you here several times, found you always polite & thoughtful & not a troll.

      • Joe Seamhead - Sep 5, 2015 at 7:27 PM

        I had no problem with your post,and I go on all kinds of other baseball blogs. You certainly are not a troll, and are 100% welcome here as far as I am concerned.

    • NatsLady - Sep 5, 2015 at 6:17 PM

      Lots of Mets fans in Nats Park usually. This should be something to see, visiting fans booing their player (should we join in, or just let them have at it?)

  9. senators69 - Sep 5, 2015 at 6:46 PM

    Hope the Nats get the good Gio tonight. Really need him to come through.

  10. NatsLady - Sep 5, 2015 at 7:07 PM

    Is it me, or does Clint Robinson look better in LF. Have seen him make a few nifty catches. Gio, THROW STRIKES.

    • natsjackinfl - Sep 5, 2015 at 7:24 PM

      Going right and left, he looks better. Going North and South, he leaves a lot to be desired.

  11. knoxvillenat - Sep 5, 2015 at 7:16 PM

    Hey Mark Z, you didn’t have a friendly wager on that Northwestern game with Drew Storen did you?

    • Mark Zuckerman - Sep 5, 2015 at 7:36 PM

      Alas, no. To be honest, I had no expectation of that result when I woke up this morning.

  12. natsjackinfl - Sep 5, 2015 at 7:26 PM

    9 pitch inning for Gio. Much better.

    Still not as good as Miller’s 8 pitch inning, but I’ll take it.

    • Joe Seamhead - Sep 5, 2015 at 7:57 PM

      Well, Miller just threw 10 pitches to Harper. And not a happy ending for Shelby Miller!

  13. knoxvillenat - Sep 5, 2015 at 7:30 PM

    Can someone explain to me why Escobar would wear two gloves on his hands while batting and carrying a third glove in his back pocket? What is the point of the third glove?

    • Joe Seamhead - Sep 5, 2015 at 7:36 PM

      Probably a sliding glove. And there’s probably a pair of them. Bryce usually carries them in his hands when stealing to keep his hands in a fist. Guys that slide head first often use them to get some protection for their fingers.

      • knoxvillenat - Sep 5, 2015 at 8:13 PM

        Thank you, I didn’t realize there was a difference.

  14. Hiram Hover - Sep 5, 2015 at 7:45 PM

    Man, is Miller snakebitten–and by snakebitten, I mean, getting no help from his team.

  15. Joe Seamhead - Sep 5, 2015 at 7:45 PM

    Free bases! And runs. All Desi, but with a lot of help from Fredie’s Friends!

  16. natslive - Sep 5, 2015 at 7:46 PM

    Braves announcers talking about Bettancourt not blocking the ball rather than trying to backhand it

  17. Joe Seamhead - Sep 5, 2015 at 7:51 PM

    I’m thrilled for Anthony, but ,I for one, am not giving up on Jayson Werth yet.

  18. Joe Seamhead - Sep 5, 2015 at 7:53 PM

    BTW, can you all believe that Michael A. Taylor’s homer was the first pinch hit walkoff home run in Nats history? That’s what Bob Carpenter said before the game.

    • veejh - Sep 5, 2015 at 8:17 PM

      Saw that. I would have figured an Adam Dunn would have had that taken care of.

  19. Drew - Sep 5, 2015 at 7:57 PM

    12 to reach 100 at 22.

    667 from Henry Aaron.

  20. Joe Seamhead - Sep 5, 2015 at 8:57 PM

    I have never seen Gio get so many calls go his way.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 5, 2015 at 9:21 PM

      Umps hate the Braves, too. I don’t blame them, but even so, it seems like it.

  21. Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 5, 2015 at 8:58 PM

    So much for the whole Gio Needs Lobaton thing. Gio carries a no-hit shutout into the sixth.

  22. Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 5, 2015 at 9:03 PM

    And that’s a night for Good Gio.

  23. Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 5, 2015 at 9:05 PM

    So is Harper going to go get some ice on that hip?

    • knoxvillenat - Sep 5, 2015 at 9:09 PM

      Did I miss something? What happened to Harper?

      • Joe Seamhead - Sep 5, 2015 at 9:12 PM

        What? I didn’t see anything with Bryce.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 5, 2015 at 9:19 PM

        He appeared in pain after a hard checked swing during his last at-bat. FP thought it was the hip, which would make sense.

  24. Joe Seamhead - Sep 5, 2015 at 9:13 PM

    He’s still in CF.

  25. natslive - Sep 5, 2015 at 9:27 PM

    And ran hard on his double there

  26. thisizit - Sep 5, 2015 at 9:27 PM

    Bryce a little too confident about his view of the strike zone. Those were both strikes that he was complaining about.

    • Joe Seamhead - Sep 5, 2015 at 9:31 PM

      I take the MASN pitch track with a grain of salt, especially on high and low calls.

    • knoxvillenat - Sep 5, 2015 at 9:42 PM

      If I’m not mistaken umpire Jerry Meals tossed Harper out of a game earlier this season on a ball /strike issue. Obviously they don’t see the same strike zone.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 5, 2015 at 9:53 PM

        You are not mistaken. Bryce kinda was, here.





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)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

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