Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Braves @ Nationals: Game 1 Recap

Lots of so-called fans are going to want to jump off a bridge after last night's 13 inning loss. Frankly, I say let them. Let them panic and whine and complain. That's what they do. The intelligent fan on the other hand knows exactly what effect it has on tonight's game. Zero. We knew going into that matchup it was going to be the toughest to win. That we were in a position to take it at all after succumbing to a 4 run onslaught in the first is a miracle. The Nats had every chance to run away and hide, and they didn't. We had every chance to win it late, and we didn't. It was a slog where neither team played well, and when that happens, it's usually the team that bats last who wins. Home field advantage is huge in those scenarios.

Let's take a look at what happened after the first inning. We know that it was 4-1 Nats at that point, so it's best to see how we played in the later stages of the game. After that initial inning, the Braves went 1-11 with RISP, and they had 10 hits. We simply didn't get the key hits when we needed them. I'd rather be hitting and struggling with RISP, than not hitting, not getting on base and basically floundering. Yes, it's frustrating that we couldn't push the runs across, but you have to look at production as a whole. Prado had 3 hits, but went 0-2 with RISP. He didn't have a bad day at all, but the hits didn't come when he had a runner. Yet, he scored two of our runs because he was on base. That's the key factor, when you're getting on base, and moving runners, eventually things do work in your favor by the law of averages. When you're not producing, and not getting on base (like Game 3 against the Dodgers) you are dead in the water.

The Nats were no better in clutch positions, stranding runners at an epic rate. We got out of so many jams it's almost impossible to count them all. They stranded 12 runners, we stranded 14. They went 2-12 with RISP after the first. They grounded into two double plays, we grounded into one. They had 6 walks, we had 8 walks. We both struck out 8 times. With 2 on and nobody out in the 6th, they struck out twice and lined out to score nobody. With runners at the corners in the 7th, they grounded into a double play that ended the inning. With the bases loaded in the 8th, they popped up and then flied out to end the inning with no runs. Over and over again, they were just as pathetic at the plate until the bottom of the 13th, when we finally committed fielding errors that lost the game.

There's no point in looking at the pitching. Huddy was bad in the first, then locked down. Zimmerman only went 5 innings because he was just as bad, and then handed it to the pen. The pens battled it out. You can't really take anything away from this game on the pitching front except that Huddy continues to struggle early in games, and that better fix itself or we're doomed in a playoff series. The matchup tonight between Maholm and Strasburg is actually much more in our favor than this game. So, you can look forward to that tonight. My money is on the Braves. In short, don't panic. Don't be that stupid fan who gets reactionary because of one loss in a 162 game season. I'll tell you when you can panic. If we get swept, panic all you want. That's when the division race can officially be declared dead. Otherwise, I'm optimistic about our chances until the math says we're toast.

Go Braves!

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