How do you break a long losing streak? Play the Nationals.
In the end, it was a heckuva lot closer than it should have been, but the Braves survived thanks to shutdown outings from Jordan Walden and Craig Kimbrel. In the end, Atlanta’s first four home runs in August carried them to a 7-0 sprint lead that ended in a scary 7-6 affair after a rain delay seemed to allow the Washingtonians to regroup.
Each of the first four players in the lineup homered, including Tommy La Stella‘s first big league shot – which ultimately proved to be the deciding seventh run. All of the long balls came off Washington starter Stephen Strasburg, who might actually be having a decent year except for giving up 3, 4, and now 7 earned runs in three outings vs. Atlanta this year (okay – in fairness: Miami got him for 6 on April 15th and Milwaukee hung 7 on him on June 25th – maybe they’re watching tapes of Braves’ games).
Against Atlanta, though: Strasburg now has an 8.22 ERA for 2014 in 3 starts, lasting just 15.1 innings. The Braves are hitting .338 off him with 24 hits and 17 runs overall.
Here are the numbers from last night:
It would have been better, of course, to get Ervin Santana through the 6th inning – and thus through the rain delay – unscathed. But alas: no, as the Nats quickly amassed 4 runs in that inning before an out could be recorded. Anthony Varvaro yielded 2 more… and left the tying runner in scoring position before Walden shut it down. But as happened in Seattle, the Braves’ defense nearly were their undoing, as 2 errors contributed to that 6th Washington run.
In the end: 1-2-3 innings from Walden and Kimbrel (2 K’s and an ‘excuse me’ check-swing groundout to Craig) to put the Nats away.
Alumni Weekend Stops Atlanta Braves’ Losing Streak In Season’s Biggest Win
Something had to change for the Atlanta Braves. It is just natural that a good team’s losing streak is more likely to end every single day that it stretches on. The Braves, however, seemed to find a new way to lose every single night and against the Washington Nationals in the biggest game of the season to date, they nearly found a way for a ninth consecutive game. Something magical seemed to spur them on to keep a narrow lead and draw closer to the Nats.
It was, of course, the first night of Alumni Weekend in Atlanta. Bobby Cox, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Chipper Jones and others were in attendance at Turner Field. How fitting that these legendary figures in Braves history would be on hand for the biggest win of the season? Was it something about the legends attending that brought about the winning ways of the Braves? It could have been.
After all, look at the way it happened. The game was a blowout for the first half and wound up being a one-run nail-biter by the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. Raise your hand if you remember a few close nail-biting contests when Glavine and Maddux were on the mound, Bobby was managing, and Chipper was manning third.
Braves need shakeup as August skid threatens postseason hopes
On Wednesday afternoon, the Braves lost to the Mariners in Seattle, 7-3, thus completing a dubious sweep: An 0-8 West Coast road trip in which the Dodgers, Padres and Mariners ran the table against them. At 58-56, the defending NL East champions are now a season-high four games behind the Nationals and one game away from matching the franchise’s longest losing streak since April 2010. Particularly when one considers some of manager Fredi Gonzalez’s recent lapses, it’s fair to wonder if complacency has taken hold.
No matter where one stakes the arbitrary endpoints, the splits are unflattering. Since jumping out to a 17-7 start through April 27, they’re 41-49. Since June 1, when they were 31-25 and last had a three-game division lead, they’re 27-31, with a lower winning percentage (.466) than the Cubs (28-30, .483) or Diamondbacks (26-29, .473) during that stretch, and a worse run differential (-8) than the Mets (27-31, +5) or Padres (26-30, +4). Since July 5, when a nine-game winning streak pushed them to a season-high 11 games above .500 at 49-38, they’re 9-18, worse than any other NL team save the Rockies (8-17) despite being outscored by just 11 runs in that span. Since the All-Star break, they’re 6-13, and of course, they’re 0-for-August.
>>> much more, including video at the link above.