Nats at Braves Series Story
The Washington Nationals recouped the final game of a three-game series at the Atlanta Braves. The Nats lost the first game in a tight frustrating fashion. But Washington won the last game against the beasts of the NL East by a solid margin thanks to a couple of two-run blasts by Jeimer Candelario and Dominic Smith. I should also mention a game saving catch by Alex Call. More on that below.
GAME 1: BRAVES 3, Nationals 2
Josiah Gray walked three of the first six batters he faced but sprang back with one of his better starts of the year. Gray didn’t yield a hit until the fourth inning. He threw 96 pitches in only five innings and allowed one run, four walks, two hits, and struck out six batters.
CJ Abrams ended the bottom of the seventh inning with a diving stop to his left and made the throw over to first base on the money. Abrams had trouble getting the ball out of his glove an inning earlier that allowed Ozzie Albies to reach first base safely.
Joey Meneses hit his 15th double and knocked in his team-leading 31st run. Luis Garcia was two for four and recorded his 27th RBI. Meneses is hitting .444 with men in scoring position according to mlb.com. That is 74 points higher than Keibert Ruiz who is second on the team in batting RISP.
The Nats led 2-1 at the seventh inning stretch.
Mason Thompson (H,3) and Carl Edwards Jr. (H,13) each pitched a scoreless inning in relief. But Kyle Finnegan (L, 3-3) got tagged for the blown save and loss as he gave up three hits and two runs (one earned) in the decisive home eighth inning.
A juggle and a bobble
Finnegan gave up two ground ball singles to start the bottom of the eighth inning. On the second base hit, Nationals RF Lane Thomas bobbled the ball which allowed Atlanta runners to advance to second and third. After a popout, Atlanta DH Marcel Ozuna grounded to Nats 1B Dominic Smith who juggled the ball enough to allow the runner from third to score. The game was tied 2-2. With two outs, Braves SS Orlando Arcia bounced one up the middle that Abrams could only touch with his glove and Atlanta had the winning run.
The Nats went quietly in the ninth with two strikeouts and a ground out.
Time of Game: 2:46.
GAME 2: BRAVES 6, Nationals 4
Lane Thomas led off the game with a triple and the Nats took an early lead. Luis Garcia’s deep sac fly to center field sent Thomas home. The Braves answered with their own sac fly in the bottom of the first off MacKenzie Gore (L, 3-5).
The second inning got worse for Gore as the Braves clubbed two 2-run homers to take a 5-1 lead. Gore finished his outing by retiring his last 10 batters, but the damage was done.
With two outs in the top of the fifth, Thomas golfed a two-run double that scored Michael Chavis (1-2) and Ildemaro Vargas (1-4) to bring the Nats within two runs at 5-3.
Joey Meneses (2-4) and Jeimer Candelario (1-4) hit consecutive singles to start the sixth. But after a pitching change by Atlanta, Washington could do no more in the frame.
Stone Garrett (1-4, K) led off the ninth inning with his third homer of the year to bring the Nats a little closer. Garrett’s missile off the upper decking in left field ended the scoring for Washington as they went down in order after that.
Time of Game: 2:22.
GAME 3: NATIONALS 6, Braves 2
The Nats recouped the final game of a three-game series against the beasts of the NL East. Washington exploded for five runs in the top half of the sixth inning.
Nats starter Trevor Williams (W, 3-4, 4.11 ERA) gave up a two-run bomb to Braves first baseman Matt Olson in the bottom of the first. But Williams steadied the ship after that, and Atlanta would not score again. Trevor lasted five innings and allowed seven hits, two runs, one walk, and struck out six. His ground out to flyout ratio registered 5:2.
Carl Edwards Jr., Kyle Finnegan, and Hunter Harvey gave up a total of zero runs and two hits in their combined four innings of relief. The trio struck out just one batter but did not walk any.
The Nationals cut the Braves’ lead in half in the top of the fourth. Keibert Ruiz (2-4, RBI, R) knocked in Jeimer Candelario with a hard grounder up the middle.
In the top of the sixth, Joey Meneses’ 77th hit of the season led to his team-leading 32nd RBI. The Nats mimicked what the Braves did the previous day by hitting two 2-run homers in the same inning. Candelario (1-3, 2R, BB) lofted one high and deep that just cleared the right field wall. Three batters later, Dominic Smith (1-4) hit his second long ball of the season that also brought home Ruiz.
Call Dials in Another Defensive Spectacle
In the Braves’ half of the sixth inning, with two out and one on, Alex Call flat out robbed Michael Harris of a two-run homer. Call held onto the ball as his glove slammed full speed into the yellow stripe atop the left-center field wall. The catch surely made the list for one of the best of the season to date.
In the end, The Nats broke their six-game losing streak and snapped the Braves seven-game winning streak. Washington improved to 2-4 against Atlanta this season.
Time of Game: 2:23.
Overall record: Nats 26-38.
Next Up for the DC9: Off day on Monday. And then to Houston to face the Astros for three games. The last time the Nats played in Houston, they won the seventh game of the World Series on October 30, 2019.