Two extra inning games and one 2-1 close win were what the Braves had to weather in order to win this series on the weekend against the Nats. The hitting was...uneven on both sides, and that's what led to a the majority of these games going to extras. However, with liberal use of the bullpens, Atlanta was the team that came out on top.
Game 1 was the Justin Upton show, as he was responsible for the game winning walkoff homer in the 10th inning. The rest of the hitting was situationally awful for the most part. The Braves managed 9 hits and 3 walks, but they went 0-5 with RISP. The Nationals were only slightly better by going 1-10 on the day with RISP. With a combined 15 runners stranded, either team could have wrested control of the game long before it went to the 10th inning. However, it was only a matter of time until the Nats bullpen gave up a long bomb to somebody, and that somebody was Justin Upton. Key homers would become a theme in this series as the Braves transitioned into Game 2 on Saturday.
Game 2 was probably one of the weirdest starts to a game I've seen in a long time. Both starting pitchers looked completely lost on the mound. By the end of the 2nd inning, both starting pitchers were in the dugout. Minor had absolutely no strikeout pitch working, and he'd given up 4 runs in 1.2 innings including 4 walks and 4 hits. Strasburg then decided after walking Jordan Schafer to throw 3 wild pitches in a row, two of which flew behind Simmons. The home plate umpire had enough of that, and ejected Strasburg for trying to throw at the batter. The funny part is that I'm not entirely sure it was intentional, I think he just mentally self-destructed. Either way, it was a battle of the bullpens for the rest of the game, and that would be important. The Braves battled, but again hit absolutely horribly with RISP, going 0-7. Anything else would have won the game. The only thing that saved the Braves was the long ball, one by Freddie, one by BMac, and 2 by Heyward including a 2 run shot in the 9th that sent the game into extras. And how far into extras did it go! 15 innings later, the Nats finally capitalized on a Kris Medlen mistake (yes, he was the only guy left who was able to pitch out of the pen) and hit a homer of their own to win the game 8-7. Live by the long ball, die by the long ball.
Game 3 happened on Sunday afternoon after a small rain delay, under a grey canopy that has seemed to hold all weekend and well into Monday. While the Braves didn't collect as many hits, their RISP hitting was much improved, and that's the reason they ended up winning the game 2-1. By the way, that's the second 2-1 over Washington for Teheran in a row. The lineup, full of mostly the backups after a long 15 inning game the night before, went 3-7 with RISP and a double by Freddie Freeman. This game wasn't about the hitting though. It was about the pitching. Julio was not economical with his pitches, but he still managed to go 6 innings of scoreless baseball. The bullpen surrendered a run when Downs put 2 men on base and Carpenter couldn't hold the Nats down, but he did stop the bleeding long enough to get out of the inning with the lead. At that point, Walden and Kimbrel came in for the 8th and 9th to shut the door with 4 Ks total. Also Teheran manged to plunk another guy on the Nats, further endearing himself to that team I'm sure. I still think we haven't seen the last of the bean ball wars when the Braves end up in Washington for the final series in September. Plus, the Braves will have eliminated the Nats at that point most likely, leading to even more bad blood.
Now the Braves fly up to the Mets Citi Field for a 2 game series before going to a 4 gamer in St. Louis for the weekend. Series Preview up tomorrow.