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Game 157: Nats at Braves

Sep 29, 2015, 3:30 PM EST

Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER

ATLANTA — And a good afternoon to you from Turner Field, where the tarp is on the field and the rain has been falling all day. The forecast does appear to improve some as the night progresses, but there’s at least a 50 percent chance of rain each of the next three days here in Atlanta and then all weekend in New York. Oy.

The Nationals come to town on the heels of an, uh, eventful final homestand. Whether things can actual return to normal now remains to be seen, though Bryce Harper’s return to the lineup certainly helps in some way. Michael Taylor and Yunel Escobar, however, are off.

Tanner Roark gets the start. It’s been a rough go for the right-hander since he rejoined the rotation earlier this month. You can imagine he really wants to finish on a high note and head into the offseason feeling much better about his role entering 2016.

Updates to come, so please check back…

WASHINGTON NATIONALS at ATLANTA BRAVES
Where: Turner Field, Atlanta
Gametime: 7:10 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, XM 183/869
Weather: Rain, 72 degrees, Wind 3 mph in from CF

NATIONALS (80-76)
3B Anthony Rendon
2B Trea Turner
CF Bryce Harper
RF Jayson Werth
1B Clint Robinson
SS Ian Desmond
LF Matt den Dekker
C Wilson Ramos
RHP Tanner Roark

BRAVES (62-94)
RF Nick Markakis
2B Daniel Castro
1B Freddie Freeman
C A.J. Pierzynski
LF Nick Swisher
3B Hector Olivera
SS Andrelton Simmons
CF Michael Bourn
RHP Matt Wisler

UMPIRES
HP Mike Muchlinski
1B Mark Wegner (cc)
2B Sam Holbrook
3B Marty Foster

7:10 p.m. — And we’re underway, on-time after all. The skies cleared up enough over the last hour to get this game started as scheduled.

7:31 p.m. — The Nats got a couple of sharp singles from Anthony Rendon and Trea Turner to get things started in the top of the first, but they never advanced beyond that. Bryce Harper flied out to left (lowering his batting average to .335, just 2 points better than Dee Gordon for the batting title), Jayson Werth popped out to first and Clint Robinson fouled out to the catcher. Tanner Roark, meanwhile, retired the side in the bottom of the inning, even striking out Freddie Freeman (which, as you know, rarely happens when he faces the Nats). Scoreless after one.

7:42 p.m. — Ian Desmond just missed his 20th homer of the season, sending a ball off the top of the center-field fence for a mere double. He’s trying to reach the 20-homer mark for the fourth straight season. As was the case in the top of the first, the Nats couldn’t bring home a runner who was on second base with nobody out. Roark has faced the minimum over two innings, throwing only 21 total pitches. He looks sharp so far. Still 0-0 after two.

8:06 p.m. — Add another record to Bryce Harper’s remarkable season: He has set a new franchise record for walks with his 124th, besting Ken Singleton’s mark from the 1973 Expos. He’s not going to set a Washington baseball record, though, because Eddie Yost drew 151 walks in 1956. Still scoreless through three.

8:12 p.m. — Roark was cruising along, really looking impressive … until he hung a breaking ball to A.J. Pierzynski in the bottom of the fourth. Pierzynski turned on it and sent it over the right-field wall, giving the Braves a 1-0 lead after four.

8:34 p.m. — Strong performance tonight from Roark, who is through five innings on 63 pitches. He’ll take the mound for the sixth for the first time since rejoining the rotation earlier this month. Still 1-0 Atlanta, though, after five.

8:49 p.m. — Trea Turner is officially a big leaguer now. He launched his first career homer, a solo shot to left on the first pitch of the top of the sixth that tied this game. Teammates mobbed the rookie in the dugout, and Nick Swisher tossed the ball back in from left field so Turner could add it to his collection. You know, he had been a slow starter at each level of the minors this season before taking off, and sure enough he’s now doing the same thing here. After starting his career 1-for-11, Turner is now 6 for his last 13. 1-1 game after six.

9:10 p.m. — The Nats have had no trouble handling Freddie Freeman (0-for-3, 2 strikeouts) tonight. Unfortunately, A.J. Pierzynski is playing the role of Freddie Freeman. He’s 3-for-3 with two homers, including the tiebreaking blast in the bottom of the seventh off Roark. That was the 17th homer Roark has allowed in 105 innings this season. He allowed only 16 in 198 2/3 innings last year. It’s 2-1 Atlanta after seven.

9:31 p.m. — The Nats had two on with one out for Harper in the eighth. Can’t ask for a much better opportunity than that. But old pal Edwin Jackson got Harper to ground into a 5-4-3 double play, ending that rally. So it’s still 2-1 Braves, with the Nats down to their final three outs.

9:40 p.m. — That’s your ballgame. Nats lose 2-1. Or, more appropriately, A.J. Pierzynski beat Trea Turner, 2-1.

  1. Eugene in Oregon - Sep 29, 2015 at 3:50 PM

    Coming late to today’s conversations, but a couple of quick points:

    — The question isn’t ‘will Matt Williams be fired?’ but ‘who will be Matt Williams’ replacement’.
    — It’s worth remembering that if the Nats opt to hire a manager with MLB experience, it will almost certainly be someone who has a losing career record. Yes, there are a couple of guys in retirement with career winning records, but they’re not coming back. Thus, the pool from whom the Nats will be choosing will be managers who were fired for failing to win. Not saying that’s bad, but just the way it is. [If someone has a counter-example, I’d be happy to hear it.]
    — I see no way that Mike Rizzo is let go (and I wouldn’t let him go). That said, one can only imagine that the owners have made clear that he’s got a year to straighten things out.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 29, 2015 at 4:49 PM

      Well, the Cubs got pretty creative to get Maddon, but that’s probably a one-of-a-kind pull.

    • Candide - Sep 29, 2015 at 7:24 PM

      Is Terry Francona available?

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 29, 2015 at 7:41 PM

        I believe his Cleveland contract runs through next season. FWIW, that team is still mathematically alive. Just saying.

      • Candide - Sep 29, 2015 at 7:59 PM

        Dang, you’re right, Section 3. Signed a 2 year extension November last year.

        Maybe Fredi Gonzalez will be available? As long as we’re picking up Braves castoffs…?

  2. janebeard - Sep 29, 2015 at 4:04 PM

    If they fire Matt and let Pap stay, I…I…I don’t know what I will do. But I’ll make my family miserable screaming about it at the very least.

    I kinda wish they’d just say, “Rain out! Season over.” but they won’t.

  3. natsfan1a - Sep 29, 2015 at 4:16 PM

    Maybe things can be more “normal” for the guys being away from DC for the last string of games. I’ll watch until I fall asleep on the couch, I guess, which may not be long.

    Jane, let’s hope that Papelbon will be Papelgone soon.

  4. natsfan1a - Sep 29, 2015 at 4:17 PM

    And the season can’t be over, because Harp still has history to make. So there’s that. 🙂

    • ArVAFan - Sep 29, 2015 at 4:31 PM

      +34

    • janebeard - Sep 29, 2015 at 8:01 PM

      And Ian has to get that 20th dinger! Joining you on Papelgone.

      • natsfan1a - Sep 30, 2015 at 7:43 AM

        Good point!

  5. Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 29, 2015 at 4:36 PM

    on a happier note:

    from Himself:

    Andy Duffy
    15 mins ·
    I Just received word that Mayor Bowser and Council Member Nadeau will be at Duffy’s at approximately 10:40am tomorrow morning to perform a very brief ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating the reopening of Duffy’s. Duffy’s will not be open at that time (we open at 5pm) but all are welcome to attend the ribbon cutting!

  6. sec112 - Sep 29, 2015 at 4:48 PM

    Going to be difficult anywhere on the East coast to get in games this week given weather. Will be interesting how they deal with it, because Mets and Dodgers still have home field in play.

  7. ccallahan15 - Sep 29, 2015 at 5:44 PM

    While we’re wait for the rain to pass…what does stacast have to say about Harper hustling? Of course the retired baseball players don’t want to be confused by the facts on their defense of Papalbon.

    https://sports.yahoo.com/news/how-much-does-bryce-harper-actually-hustle–quite-a-lot-195153539.html

  8. Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 29, 2015 at 6:23 PM

    It doesn’t look like they will even get this game in tonight….

  9. natsguy - Sep 29, 2015 at 6:38 PM

    It would be great if they just rained out the rest of the way. Sometimes its just better to put a fork in it. The only thing worth playing for is Bryce’s numbers.

    • langleyclub - Sep 29, 2015 at 6:46 PM

      For those that bet “over” the team win total number (93), I’m sure they agree as for the bet to count (even though the Nats could never get to 93 wins), the Nats must play at least 160 games.

      For those that bet that bet the under, they need these games to be played…

      If they are a ton of rainouts across MLB this week, some people are going to get royally hosed (like those that bet under Braves or over Mets) or get very lucky.

      • Joe Seamhead - Sep 29, 2015 at 7:42 PM

        In 2011 I made a bet that the Nats would finish at least at .500. The game against the Dodgers got rained out and wasn’t rescheduled. The team finished 80-81. I lost $100.00

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 29, 2015 at 7:23 PM

      A favorable symptom of a successful franchise, oddly enough, when the tail-end of a non-playoff season isn’t worth bothering with. Half the teams in MLB live with elimination in August or earlier year after year after year.

      • natsfan1a - Sep 30, 2015 at 7:50 AM

        Including this team, year after year, after year, after year, after year, after year, after year, after year,
        ’til those hopes are just so much popcorn, for the pigeons beneath the ‘L’ tracks to eat (but I digress)

  10. Drew - Sep 29, 2015 at 7:21 PM

    As for managers with losing records, Warren Spahn played for Casey Stengel with the 1942 Boston Braves and the 1965 Mets.

    Spahn said: “I’m the only guy to play for Casey Stengel before and after he was a genius.”

  11. RoadApples - Sep 29, 2015 at 7:26 PM

    Looking forward to Roark having a solid outing: to help with; earning the opportunity to get back in the starting rotation for ’16.
    On a side note directed to bat/ball? boy:
    To be succinct: And the horse you rode in on.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 29, 2015 at 7:37 PM

      Roadie, if I may: I feel you, but engaging with commenters like that is what drove this place from 350 comments to 35. Just saying.

      • RoadApples - Sep 29, 2015 at 9:05 PM

        Respectfully understand .
        Ball/Bat Boy has been overall abusive to me and my posts.
        I am a sensitive guy and it has consequently hurt my feelings.
        I feel abused by his comments.
        That being said:
        And the horse he rode in on.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 29, 2015 at 9:23 PM

        Well, if it’s any consolation, he’s been among the “that guy” troop for a long time. Don’t take it personally. It’s like blaming the mosquito for biting — it’s what they do.

  12. Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 29, 2015 at 7:28 PM

    Tanner, the way you walked was thorny, through no fault of your own.

  13. janebeard - Sep 29, 2015 at 8:04 PM

    You know, looking at that field on TV, it makes me beam to think of the game in April when they came back from, like 97-1 to win on Uggla’s homer. I love our boys. 39 of them, anyway.

  14. Drew - Sep 29, 2015 at 8:41 PM

    With his first dinger, the Kid is hitting .292

  15. janebeard - Sep 29, 2015 at 8:41 PM

    Ah, Trea. I’m happy for him. SO good that the Braves player knew to get it to the dugout. I love when the Baby Nats do something cool for the first time.

  16. philipd763 - Sep 29, 2015 at 8:43 PM

    Harper’s lead in the batting race has shrunk to 2 points.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 29, 2015 at 9:29 PM

      It’s still early.

      (ducking)

      • NatsNut - Sep 30, 2015 at 6:43 AM

        LOL

  17. hersheyman - Sep 29, 2015 at 9:01 PM

    Its been quite a season. I probably mentioned at some point on this blog that Ive following the Expos and now the Nats since 1969, but I never saw anything close to a season quite like this one. There were some baaaaaad Expos teams, and a few of the early Nats years weren’t all that great either, but the teams generally played to their potential. I do not ever, ever, 2nd guessing a manager so much as M Williams this year (never mind last years playoffs). Maybe its because unlike most of the previous Xpos/Nats teams, MW had so much at his disposal to work with. Even his bench this year was decent. Yes, injuries were a factor, but for Rizzo to say that the bullpen melt-down was mostly because Stammen got hurt is down-right disingenuous, giving an impression that he just trying to save himself. C’mon, Stammen is a decent back end-of-the-bullpen guy, but not enough to cause the problems seen this year. Rizzo has made numerous mistakes, including:

    (1) MW.

    (2) over-estimated his own bullpen talent and their ML-readiness.

    and perhaps most importantly,

    (3) failing to understand the importance of team chemistry whatsoever and how to handle the human element of the sport. It is interesting that he defends MW at every turn, but is willing to suspend the franchise player for the crime of being attacked. Ludicrous.

    Rizzo has many good, maybe even terrific, qualities as a G.M. But he really needs to look in the mirror and take responsibility for some of this mess. If he doesn’t, he won’t have learned anything and similar situations will keep happening in the future.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 29, 2015 at 9:29 PM

      Didn’t Mauch pinch-hit for Bill Stoneman from a no-hitter-in-progress at some point?

      • hersheyman - Sep 29, 2015 at 10:04 PM

        No – lolol. Stoneman threw 2 no-hitters in fact, despite being essentially a journeyman pitcher.

    • knoxvillenat - Sep 29, 2015 at 9:55 PM

      “….how to handle the human element of the sport.”

      Point well made. Despite the perceived shortcomings of guys like John Lannen and Jim Riggleman, Rizzo’s failure to deal honorably or professionally with these gentlemen is a good example of his own shortcoming in the human element or human relationships that go with being any kind of manager. Seems to me he,and by extension the Nats, would stand to benefit from some training in personal relationships and human resource management.

      • hersheyman - Sep 29, 2015 at 10:06 PM

        Thanks Knox. Being too stubborn to recognize or failure to publicly own up to one’s own mistakes leads to failure long-term.

  18. Drew - Sep 29, 2015 at 9:01 PM

    Right down the middle.

  19. Danny - Sep 29, 2015 at 9:38 PM

    Will not miss Desmond being completely useless in clutch moments

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 29, 2015 at 9:48 PM

      That’s at least three-quarters on Matt. You don’t give away one of your remaining three outs with a power hitter up. Bad idea. Worse bunt, but a bad idea from the jump..

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 29, 2015 at 9:50 PM

        Although, to be fair, Harper GIDP’d to end the 8th.

      • hersheyman - Sep 29, 2015 at 10:08 PM

        Sec: But, that’s even more of a reason to hit away – its like playing poker, If it fails the first time, chances are better that it will work the second time. Terrible manager, no strategy, no smarts.

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