The Braves have won 10 of their first 11 games, giving them the best record in baseball and sending a message to the Nationals that the division will have to be won. They took advantage of a couple critical mistakes to beat the Nationals for the second straight day 3-1 in front of a sellout crowd of 41,992.
The Nationals made two crucial mistakes in the loss. The first was by Denard Span in the first inning. He led the game off with a single then advanced to second on an errant pickoff throw from Tim Hudson. With no one out Jayson Werth lined one into centerfield that stayed up for B.J. Upton. Span did not seem to bother to track the trajectory of the ball and broke for third. He was standing on third when Upton caught it and threw to second to complete the double play.
The second mistake was another costly throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman. He made a throwing error in last night’s game that proved crucial in the Braves comeback win from a 4-0 deficit. Today, Justin Upton bounced a routine two out grounder to the Z-man. It appeared he rushed his throw, sidearming the ball past Adam LaRoche to bounce against the dugout. Evan Gattis followed by depositing a Stephen Strasburg fastball into the left field bullpen to prove the difference in the game.
Tim Hudson only gave up four hits in his seven innings of work. The first two hits were wiped out by double plays. The fourth hit was a solo homerun by Danny Espinosa into the right field seats in the fifth inning to give the Nationals their only run. Through nine innings the Nationals only stranded one baserunner with Braves pitchers having to face only two hitters over the minimum.
The Braves scored an insurance run in the ninth off Ryan Mattheus. Chris Johnson and Ramiro Pena led off the inning with singles. For Pena it was his third hit of the day. Andrelton Simmons failed to lay down a bunt, popping it up to Mattheus. B.J. Upton blooped a single into no man’s land in rightfield, falling just in front of Jayson Werth and behind Danny Espinosa to load the bases. Jason Heyward grounded a ball to Danny Espinosa and when the Nationals were unable to turn two a run crossed the plate.
Game Notes: The first three hitters in the order are similar. Leading off are two centerfielders with the uniform number 2, Denard Span and B.J. Upton. Second in the order are two rightfielders with the same first name, though they spell it differently (Jason versus Jayson). Batting third both teams have their superstars who occupy leftfield, Juston Upton and Bryce Harper…In the eighth inning Wilson Ramos tried to beat out a grounder that glanced off the pitcher. He pulled a hamstring trying to beat out the throw from Dan Uggla and will be placed on the disabled list. Jonathon Solano will be called up to take his place on the roster…Tim Hudson mixed his pitches well to Bryce Harper, throwing a lot of curveballs at him. Bryce did not get a ball out of the infield going 0 for 3…Dan Uggla made a couple nice defensive plays and looked like a different player from the one myworld witnessed this spring…Jason Heyward made a nice diving catch on an Adam LaRoche line drive curving toward the right field line. Tim Hudson was one of the first to congragulate him on the catch…In his third at bat Bryce bounced one back to the pitcher. He seemed a bit frustrated not running the ball out…Stephen Strasburg threw seven straight fastballs to B.J. Upton to start the game. Upton whacked the seventh fastball to deep centerfield, but Denard Span was able to track it. The Brave hitters kept Span busy, whacking six balls near the warning track….The Braves third base coach made a poor decision by sending Dan Uggla in the second inning on a ground ball single by Tim Hudson. Bryce Harper threw a strike to the plate, getting Uggla at home by at least five steps…The error by Ryan Zimmerman cost Stephen Strasburg seven more pitches…Stephen Strasburg is trying to be mindful of runners breaking for second before he even throws the ball. In the third Justin Upton broke for second. Strasburg stepped off the bag and instead of turning around to throw to second he threw to first. Upton beat the throw to second from Adam LaRoche. If they could have picked off Upton that would have been the third out and Evan Gattis would have to pick another inning to hit his homerun…At the end of the sixth inning Stephen Strasburg had thrown 44 balls and 68 strikes for 112 pitches. Tim Hudson had thrown 22 balls and 52 strikes for 74 pitches.2582