After a long road trip and through all kinds of distracting weather, the Atlanta Braves returned home to take on the Washington Nationals on Monday night. But just returning home wouldn’t be easy for the Braves as they would see one of the best pitchers in baseball on their first day back, Stephen Strasburg.
The Braves offense struck early by playing a little small ball, Jordan Schafer walked to start the bottom of the first inning off and then stole second base to get into scoring position. Then Justin Upton singled to right field (yes you read that correctly, he went backside) and Schafer scored to go up 1-0.
In the top of the second inning the Nationals were able to put two runs on the board off the bats of Chad Tracy and Kurt Suzuki each singling in runners. Julio Teheran settled down after giving up these runs to go 5.1 innings with only giving up these two runs and striking out five…he did give up 10 hits but nine of them were singles. After the game Teheran talked about his pitching “(I) Just trying to compete. I didn’t have my best stuff (but) I was trying to compete with all my pitches. I wasn’t commanding like I was in Colorado…I was using more of my four-seam fastballs because my two-seam fastball wasn’t the best. I was trying to battle with my other pitches.”
The Braves tied the game in the bottom of the 4th inning when Freddie Freeman walked and later Gerald Laird singled to center to score Freeman. Both of the two runs that the Braves had on the scored board off Strasburg were off leadoff walks, Coach Fredi Gonzalez said about getting the leadoff men on “We’ve had some good approaches against him always in the last two or three years and maybe it’s just a byproduct that we see him six times a year and guys get to know him a little bit. He was good…(but) we had a good approach but we still only scored two runs off of him.”
The middle innings went back and forth with both pitchers dueling out the hitters.
In the seventh inning, again the Braves got their leadoff man on with a walk as Gerald Laird strolled his way to first. Tyler Pastornicky was inserted as a pitch hitter and he dropped down a sacrifice to move Laird over to scoring position. Schafer then pulled a ball to right field for a single, moving Laird to third. Simmons came to the plate with a great approach…he needed to get the runner from third in as the game is tied 2-2 in late innings. Off the third pitch he saw from Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard, Simmons hit a high fly ball to right field that scored Laird. Simmons spoke about the small ball play “It’s always nice to win no matter how. It doesn’t matter how, with errors, it doesn’t matter. I had a talk with a friend and he was saying ‘Good players get it done no matter what.’ So it’s nice to get it done no matter how we do it. If we strike out 20 times and get a win, we don’t care. We’re going to be happy.”
Braves up 3-2 in late inning…yeah, advantage Atlanta
Eric O’Flaherty threw a 1-2-3 8th inning and then Craig Kimbrel shut the door in the ninth. Jordan Walden who came in for Teheran in the 6th inning picked up the win for the Braves as Kimbrel snatched up his ninth save of 2013.